An adventure-loving native of New Zealand, the spiritual mecca of extreme sports, Sam describes his ski style as “fast and loose with a good deal of risk.” This exciting, fun-loving approach has helped him light up the world of freeskiing in recent years. A consistently strong athlete on the Freeride World Tour, his highlight was a second place overall finish in 2014, which earned him the title of New Zealand Snowsports Freeride Athlete of the Year.
Birthdate: July 6, 1986
Hometown: Cromwell, New Zealand
Homebase: Wanaka, New Zealand, and Verbier, Switzerland
Favourite Book: Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ and ‘The Dharma Bums’ are pretty crucial for travelling folk I think. I love a good exploration of the darkness inherent in mankind.
Favourite Movie: Films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and A Clockwork Orange always get me thinking.
Favourite Music: It’s a lot of different stuff and dependent on my mood and type of skiing. Some favourites being Tame Impala, Shapeshifter and Led Zeppelin.
Favourite Food: Love a good curry – Indian, Thai, whatever, as long as it’s tangy.
Biggest Dream: Winning a Powder award for best male performance in a ski movie. Maybe one day I can do it!
Best advice ever received: Never let school get in the way of your education. Not to dispute the value of school, but that there is so much to learn from life around you. Learning never stops and there's always something more.
What inspires you? Original riders like JP Auclair and Shane McConkey for their skiing but almost as much their demeanour towards others as ambassadors for the sport. And for keeping it fun.
Favourite other fitness exercise: Mountain biking is great for ski fitness and the quick-fire decision-making keeps your reactions on point.
I don’t leave the house without my… The North Face Thermoball jacket in camouflage. It’s great for keeping warm no matter what activity you have planned and keeps you hidden in plain sight.
Growing up on the South Island of New Zealand, he was hitting the backcountry from an early age, so he has never been afraid to push his limits or wrestle with the unknown. Always injecting positivity and energy into anything he does, Sam believes every day on the slopes can be rewarding if you tackle it with the right attitude. With good friends and good fun, he reckons even a carpark full of dirty snow can be enjoyable. But that doesn’t mean he’s not serious when he gets down to business. In recent years he’s enjoyed memorable Freeride World Tour victories in Andorra (2015), Austria (2014) and France (2012).
Ever since he was a kid Sam has enjoyed back-to-back seasons in Europe and New Zealand and he is now looking for new directions and new challenges. He wants to keep pushing his skiing with bigger lines on bigger mountains and he is keen to throw himself into more film projects, following his stunning work with Legs of Steel in the 2015 film Passenger. His adventures have now taken him everywhere from Alaska to Bolivia, where last year he completed a highly personal project, climbing peaks previously summited by his father, Ronald M. Smoothy – a keen outdoorsman - and laying fresh tracks on the descents.
After years of competing in competitions, the chance to plan, develop and complete successful exploratory trips, where he can enjoy wild new places and meet interesting local people, is what gets Sam excited right now. A whole world of new ski adventures awaits.