The XTERRA World Championship off-road triathlon has been a proving ground for talented young athletes for decades and winning the 15-19 or 20-24 age group division in Maui has become a good indicator of future endurance sports greatness.
Hayden Wilde from New Zealand, who won the 15-19 division in 2015 and 2016, just won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Neilson Powless, the 15-19 champ in 2012, just completed his second Tour de France.
Josiah Middaugh, Taylor Tolleson, Suzie Snyder, Rom Akerson, Charlotte McShane, Nicolas Fernandez, Francois Carloni, Hannah Rae Finchamp, Olly Shaw, Mauricio Mendez, Maxim Chane, Loanne Duvoisin, Tate Haugan, Karel Dusek, Pauline Vie, Alizee Paties, and Robbie Day were all teenagers or in their young 20’s when they won their age group at XTERRA Worlds, and all remain exceptional athletes today.
This year in Maui, at the 25th edition of off-road triathlon’s greatest day on December 5, 2021, we’ll see a whole new collection of future all-stars, highlighted by four young men from USA Triathlon’s Olympic Development Team, called Project Podium.
Austin Hindman, Keller Norland, Drew Shellenberger, and Darr Smith are among the most promising Olympic triathlon hopefuls in America. Their coach, Parker Spencer, believes mountain biking has a huge impact on bike handling in a draft legal race and has incorporated off-road training into their regiment.
“I think being a well-rounded triathlete will only help my athletes achieve their Olympic goals,” said Spencer. “Mountain biking is a regular part of their weekly training, and thus we decided to end the year at the XTERRA World Championship.”
Having the world's most amazing athletes battle it out on the red dirt trails and white sand beaches of Maui has been part of the fabric of XTERRA racing since the inception of the sport, even before triathlon was an Olympic sport.
Michellie Jones won the 1996 XTERRA World Championship four years before taking Silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. That same year 4x XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz was first off the bike, right alongside another XTERRA legend Olivier Marceau, and Jan Rehula, a regular at XTERRA Czech, took home the bronze medal.
Other Olympians of note who are also fabulous off-roaders include (but is not limited to) Hamish Carter, the 2006 XTERRA World Champ and 2004 Gold Medalist, Javier Gomez – the 2012 XTERRA World Champ who won Silver in 2012, Bevan Docherty (Silver 2004, Bronze 2008), Jan Frodeno (Gold 2008), Erin Densham (Bronze 2012), Susan Williams (Bronze 2004), and of course, Flora Duffy (Gold 2020)!
So, as you look forward to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, be sure to pay close attention to the talent on display at the 2021 XTERRA World Championships in Maui … you might just be watching the next Olympic Champion.
Read more about Flora Duffy's Olympic win here.