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.
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.
6th July 1986
Cromwell, New Zealand
Wanaka, New Zealand, and Verbier, Switzerland
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.
Films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and A Clockwork Orange always get me thinking.
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.
Love a good curry – Indian, Thai, whatever, as long as it’s tangy.
Winning a Powder award for best male performance in a ski movie. Maybe one day I can do it!
How do I focus?
I find music really helps me zone in to skiing a big line, and I use different styles of songs for different moments.
How do you fight doubt?
I focus on the physical job at hand and try make my head go quiet before I drop in.
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.
Words to live by:
Mottoes aren’t my thing
I don’t leave the house without my…
TheNorth FaceThermoball jacket in camouflage. It’s great for keeping warm no matter what activity you have planned and keeps you hidden in plain sight.
- 1st overall Freeride World Tour, Andorra
- 4th overall Freeride World Tour, Alaska
- 2nd overall Freeride World Tour
- 1st overall Freeride World Tour, Austria
- New Zealand Snowsports Freeride Athlete of the Year
- 4th overall Freeride World Tour
- 1st - Chamonix Freeride World Tour
- 2nd - Courmayeur Freeride World Tour
- 3rd - Roldal Freeride World Tour
- 1st - Freeride World Tour Male skier to podium three consecutive events.
- 2nd - World Heli Challenge
- Swatch Skiers Cup victories against Cody Townsend and Oakley White-Allan.
- New Zealand Skier of the Year
- 14th overall Freeride World Tour
- 5th - Fieberbrunn Freeride World Tour
- 1st - Export Extreme
- 1st - World Heli Challenge
- 3rd - New Zealand OPEN Big Mountain
- 1st - Engadin Snow Invitational Freeride
- 2nd - New Zealand Freeride Series
- 4th Overall on Freeride World Qualifier series.
“Passenger” – Legs of Steel (2015)
“Satori” - JOB (2013)
“The Lost” – Legs of Steel Productions (2013)
“Like There’s No Tomorrow” - Warren Miller Entertainment (2012)
“Hurt So Good” – Legs of Steel Productions (2012)
“New Areas with Old Friends” – a nice online edit we at CoLab Creative made. Check them out!