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Sam Hill is undoubtedly the face of the game of enduro mountain biking. However, it hasn’t always been this way as he’s originally from enduro’s sister-sport, downhill racing.

His shift between the two worlds had been one of the most talked about transitions in the industry, probably because of his groundbreaking achievements.

Now, the multi-awarded world champion says that the discipline is exploding in popularity not only in Europe but throughout the whole world as well. Well, especially in his home country, Australia, of course. 

Why is this so? Many sports pundits believe that this has to do with Hill himself.

Being a legend of the two MTB disciplines, Hill has won five downhill world championships, numerous world cup events, and had just included his recent two-straight enduro world champion titles to his ever-improving resumé.

The soft-spoken 33-year old who grew up in the Australian suburb of Glen Forrest said in a recent interview that the main reason why he shifted from downhill to enduro was because of the direction the former was headed.

According to him, downhill racing is becoming more like the kind of ride you get when you go to the bike park — you get fast, but not very technical.

The raw and natural feeling he gets every time he races enduro is what makes him love the sport even more, compared to the few minutes of highly-aggressive, but predictable features you get when riding downhill trails.

We think Downhill can be exciting, like the feeling you get in casinos when playing strategy roulette, but just like the latter, you get yourself in a kind of recurring pattern that, eventually, becomes predictable.

Hill said that he loved the challenge of riding varying technical terrains, together with the thrill and unpredictable nature of enduro racing.

Enduro is a fairly new mountain biking discipline which took off in 2013 with the help of the Enduro World Series — the global governing body of enduro racing. This discipline mixes downhill’s technical aspects with the fitness demands of cross-country racers.

Steve Janiec, Race Director of WA Gravity Enduro, was one of the pioneers of the sport. He launched the first-known enduro race in Western Australia in 2014 and said that it easily became the largest MTB series in the area.

He added that they had over 100 riders during their first event, but now are getting close to 300 and beyond. Mr. Janiec continued saying that Sam Hill was a prime mover for riders as people followed his transition from downhill to enduro.

Many sports analysts agree with Janiec’s statements, though, as enduro racing attracted the best mountain bike riders in the world due to its requirements of athleticism, speed, fast-thinking, and overall fitness.

Janiec also said that Hill’s mastery of shredding through technical terrain and using “inside lines” to further increase his speed was what makes him not only as a role model to young riders but as a true legend of the sport. 

As of now, Hill is enjoying his offseason with his wife and three sons in Western Australia. When asked about his future plans, the Nukeproof rider said that he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. He even said that he would continue racing enduro for as long as he loved. 

Enduro is becoming more accessible for everyday riders because of its dual-functionality; it can be used to ride uphill, shred flat trails, as well as go full throttle in downhills, Hill said.

Shredding muddy trails had always been one of Hill's expertise. The reason, he said, was because he grew in Western Australia, which is known for its pea gravel surface that becomes very tricky to figure out if it gets wet. This, according to him, was what gave him "good" bike skills. In fact, Hill said that he is more comfortable racing when the trails are wet and tricky.

Hill will focus on coaching and local racing in Australia for the remainder of the off-season.

Sam Hill's Switch From Downhill to Enduro MTB Examined
Digital Mag

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