Team: Monster Energy/Specialized/Mad Catz
2008 World Cup overall:2
Career highlights: 2 x World Champion, World Cup Champion 2007
Specialized are back in downhill, and they have something pretty special to win races with, Sam Hill. Going into the 08 season, Hill was seen as the man to beat, having won both the world champs and world cup overall. Few expected anything less than a repeat of 2007.
Early season and things were looking all too familiar, with first and second place at Maribor and Andorra, respectively. But then things went weird at Fort William, and he came fifth. Worse was still to come. A nation held its breath as he tore the World's track apart, with Gee in the start hut, Sam launched off the big step down and in to the left hander, and just as he began to reign the horse back in, it bucked.
Some say his confidence never recovered, and coupled with the big question of who he was riding for in 2009, perhaps he lost a little focus. He is, after all a relatively young contender at just 24 years of age. But let's not knock his achievement last year. The fact we're talking about Hill having an off year in 2008 is testimony to the skill and respect he has earned, after all, the man claimed second overall in the World Cup and third in the World Champs, despite having a major off. With all this behind him, and having already notched up a typical Hill style victory at the fourth round of the Australian Nationals, beating Mick Hannah by over six seconds, we can assume he's back on it for 09.
Looking at his credentials, he has all it takes to become the most prolific victor in the world of downhill. As a relatively young sport, there are still plenty of records to set and titles to take. Hill is moving towards the end of the beginning of his career, and you never know, he may be yet to reach his peak, a frightening prospect for the competition.