Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford are striving to take home the XTERRA Beaver Creek off-road triathlon elite titles on July 17, the only race on the Pan Am Tour neither were able to win during their dominating 2019 season.
Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford on the top step
The Kiwi couple took the Americas by storm two years ago, winning eight races and the Tour titles. They were both victorious at XTERRA Brazil, XTERRA Victoria, and XTERRA Mexico, plus Osborne took the tape at XTERRA Oak Mountain and the USA Championship as well. The only one to elude them both was Beaver Creek, the ultimate mountain challenge few can master.
“It’s no secret that the high altitudes of Beaver Creek are a cruel beast,” said Osborne, who finished 2nd in 2019, a little more than two-minutes behind hometown legend Josiah Middaugh. “It caught me a little off guard last time, I mean, everyone talks about it but until you’ve actually experienced it yourself it’s hard to explain what it does to you and how it feels.”
Kingsford, who placed fourth two years ago a full 10 minutes off the winning time set by Suzie Snyder, is quick to agree, adding, “I don’t know if you can ever really be prepared for Beaver Creek, but I guess at least now I know what I am in for and what to expect with the extreme altitude. I can take my learnings from 2019 and hopefully put them into practice this time round - hopefully!!”
After winning their hometown race at XTERRA Rotorua in April, Osborne and Kingsford took the bold step to travel to the U.S. amidst the pandemic to reclaim their racing lifestyle and jumped out to a great start by winning the first U.S. major since the pandemic started at XTERRA Oak Mountain in Alabama in May.
Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford embrace with a hug after winning XTERRA Oak Mountain 2021
The two have been based out of Boulder, Colorado ever since, and making the most of the epic outdoor arena so many triathletes use as their training base.
“We’ve settled in well to Boulder, it feels a lot like a second home here now and just sort of slot back into life as if we had never left,” said Osborne. “I’ve tried a bit of a different tack this year to manage the altitude and feel like I am a lot better prepared for it this time round. But proof will be in the pudding next Saturday.”
In addition to the abundance of daunting natural obstacles to be found in the Rockies, there’s also a wealth of world-class elite talent for the two to contend with as well.
“The field is stacked,” exclaimed Osborne. “The U.S. seems to have the deepest fields we are seeing in the world at the moment. A lot like Alabama, guys like Sam Long, Eric Lagerstrom, and Mauricio Mendez bring a really interesting dynamic to the race. Everyone seems pretty familiar with the fat tires and when you look at the pedigree of these guys, it’s impossible not to get a cracking race. There’s a really good group of fast swimmers here and what many would consider ‘Uber Bikers,’ so I’m expecting the race to be flat box from the gun and really close.”
“I’m sure girls will be fired up to to have another race,” said Kingsford. “No doubt Suzie will be gunning for her second win here, and I’m sure Amanda Felder will be looking to build on her runner-up performance at Oak Mountain. It won’t be easy, that’s for sure. Ultimately, the winner on the day will be the girl who has the biggest engine or who can be the smartest racer to survive the ridiculous altitude elevations.”
Samantha Kingsford wins XTERRA Oak Mountain 2021
One aspect of this race both agree on, is that it can’t be won on mountain bike skills alone.
“It’s probably the tamest course technically of all the XTERRA’s in the world, not a course that is rewarding for someone who has a really sharp mountain bike skillset,” explained Osborne. “A lot comes down to who can manage their efforts well and keep away from going too deep into the red zone too early on.”
We’ll find out July 17, 2021, 9am MDT. Follow the updates on Instagram/xterraplanet.
Related article: Sam Long takes talents off-road at Beaver Creek
Tentative Elite Men's Startlist
Place at 2019 Beaver Creek - Name, NAT
1 - Josiah Middaugh, USA
2 - Sam Osborne, NZL
4 - Mike Meehan, USA
5 - Branden Rakita, USA
7 - Brad Zoller, USA
8 - Brian Smith, USA
9 - Will Ross, USA
10 - Elliot Bach, USA
11 - Evan Pardi, USA
NA – Steve Croucher, USA
NA – Curtiss Feltner, USA
NA – Eric Lagerstrom, USA
NA – Sam Long, USA
NA – Garen Marter, USA
NA – Kieran McPherson, NZL
NA – Mauricio Mendez, MEX
NA – Hans Ryham, USA
NA – Paul Stevenson, USA
NA – Timothy Winslow, USA
Tentative Elite Women's Startlist
Place at 2019 Beaver Creek - Name, NAT
1 - Suzie Snyder, USA
4 - Samantha Kingsford, NZL
6 – Tess Amer, USA
7 – Nicole Valentine, USA
9 - Michelle Mehnert, USA
NA – Amanda Felder, USA
NA – Rebecca Zitnay, USA
Find more information about the course, schedule, registration, where to stay and what to do here.
All-time XTERRA Beaver Creek Elite Champions
Year - Man/Woman
2019 - Josiah Middaugh/Suzie Snyder
2018 - Mauricio Mendez/Lesley Paterson
2017 - Josiah Middaugh/Lesley Paterson
2016 - Josiah Middaugh/Julie Baker
2015 - Josiah Middaugh/Flora Duffy
2014 - Josiah Middaugh/Chantell Widney
2013 - Josiah Middaugh/Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 - Conrad Stoltz/Shonny Vanlandingham
2011 - Josiah Middaugh/Danelle Kabush
2010 - Nico Lebrun/Shonny Vanlandingham
2009 - Nico Lebrun/Shonny Vanlandingham