Sam Hill Interview
We caught up with Monster Energy / Specialized rider Sam Hill and asked him a few questions about the 09 World Cup season, the Pietermatitzburg world cup, racing in Australia, and what he has been up to in the off season…
All Photographs supplied by Stewie81
With the first leg of the world cup just over a month away you must be in your final sages of preparation for the 09 season. What have you been up to since the last round of the 08WC?
Pretty much after the end of last season I took a lot of time off, just rode my moto and hung our a lot. I also went back to America and Canada to visit some people which was cool and I had my first real winter there which was cold but really fun. I have been back on the bike now since the start of January and the time off got me really pumped up for this year, I’m stoked with my new bikes and everything going on with the Monster Energy/Specialized team. I have also had my team mate Brendan Fairclough here for the past 6 weeks hanging out but I dropped him at the airport this morning. it was good having someone to train with and he is a really good guy so we had a good time.
With you pretty much on the rode most of the year do you like to travel during the off season? Or do you prefer to stay at home?
I do like to be home and I miss being home when I’m away, I guess it depends on where I am and what I’m doing. I don’t really like to travel during the off season but sometimes it’s nice to get away somewhere new as well.
When you are in Australia where are some of your favourite places to ride?
I have been riding downhill at dwellingup and Wellington mills a lot this year, I love riding at nannup but its a bit further from my house and I haven’t made it down there this off season yet. There are heaps of cool XC tracks from my house as well but most of them are illegal.
What sort of training to you do during the off season? Do you take some time off to recover, or is it strait into training for the coming season?
Yeah I pretty much take time off to after the new year and then start, I just feel that doing that keeps it fresh for me and exciting when I am riding rather than a job. My training is pretty standard, just fitness work and strength stuff really. I only really ride DH 1 time a week.
Once the 09 race season starts where will you be based? I know a lot of riders choose to stay in Europe as it means less traveling during the year.
Yeah I think it would be really good to be from Europe because you can spend a lot of time at home between the races and it makes the season a lot easier on the rider. I pretty much leave home for 6 months and am on the road every week. I usually get 3 or 4 weeks at the same place during the start of the year and also towards then end when we have a small break but otherwise I don’t have a base anywhere.
How much of your race preparation is done on the bike? And how much is other stuff like gym and fitness training?
I have been to the gym in the past but this year I have been concentrating on some other stuff. pretty much 100% of my training is on a bike at the moment. I occasionally go running but not a lot.
This is a first time a world cup has been held in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. Have you heard much about the track or seen any pics?
No I haven’t seen anything, I have heard that’s its got a bit of everything but I’m not really fussed what its like, I am just really fired up to get racing again and get amongst it. Hopefully I can start the season with a solid result and get stronger over the year.
With it being the first round of the new year is there more pressure on you to go out and do well so that you get a good start to the season, or do you just take it as any other race on the circuit.
I always want the best result I can, I think being the first race it will be important to get a good start but also I don’t want to go in and try too hard and blow up in my race run. I will be pumped to be on the podium and build from there. its a longer season this year and I think a lot of the tracks later in the year I can win on so a podium in the first round will be a good solid start.
The PMB track will be new to almost all of the riders. Do you look forward to racing new tracks or would you prefer to race on tracks you are familiar with?
I love going to race new tracks, I think its more exciting for the riders and also doesn’t give anyone an advantage. I love tracks like Schladming but even that is due for a new track. we have raced the same course too many times now. it would be cool if every track we returned to had to change at least 25% of the course to keep it fresh.
What type of tracks do you like the most? You are well known for your wide open riding style and your drifting through corners, but at the same time you seem to make easy work of the technical stuff as well.
I pretty much enjoy riding everything that goes down hill. I really enjoy technical tracks but I love wide open turns like at mt st anne as well. my favourite tracks on the circuit are probably Schladming, Maribor, Ft William, Bromont.
Do you plan on racing any events here in SA leading up to the WC event? Or will the world cup race be your first race on the track?
I think I might be in SA a few days early to acclimatise and get ready for the world cup, my team has been talking about the lead up race the weekend before but its undecided yet. We will just see how we feel when we arrive I think.
You have been the man to beat for the last few years and have consistently placed well. Are you going to be approaching the 09 season with any new plans, or will you just race with the same strategy you always have?
I have learnt a lot over the last couple years and I think I am going to approach this season a bit different. I think there will just be a more precise mature Sam Hill out there racing. but we will see, that’s the plan anyway.
There are quite a few Australian riders on the WC circuit these days. Would you say DH racing is well supported in Australia? And do Australians in general know that so many good riders come out of their country?
Yeah I think Australians know that there is plenty of talent there and the competition is good, I’m not sure why there are so many fast riders coming from there. The races are pretty well supported and the tracks are pretty challenging so I guess its good for the sport here in Aus.
Do you get to race at home very often or do the WC races mean you have to miss out most of the local season?
The local state races in West Australia all happen when I am away racing the world cups so I never get to race any. I wish I could do some because they are really fun and its good to see the young kids pinning it. The national series here is during summer which is the off season so I usually get to 1 or 2 of those each year
Obviously any racer wants to win as many races as he can, but do you have any specific goals you want to achieve in 09?
I am pretty much going to every race to win, I know its probably not going to happen but I will be there to try and win. my main goal is to try and win the world cup series though and get my title back from 07.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, and all the best for the 09 season!