Wanaka's Braden Currie has impressed on debut on the Europe Xterra scene finishing a close second to the 2013 world champion in the Switzerland race on Saturday.
After making a last minute decision to race earlier this week, Currie was unsure what to expect and was rapt to find himself not only competitive in his series debut but only 20 seconds behind Spain's Reuben Ruzafa in the Vallee de Joux-based off-road triathlon.
"I was stoked with the first race, especially to finish so close to double world Xterra champ Reuben."
Currie's month-long training at altitude in France's Font Romeu paid off as he was second out of the 1.5km swim, 30secs ahead of the third-placed athlete.
Setting off at a hot pace on the 40km mountain bike he took some time out of his rivals Ruzafa and British world number two Asa Shaw.
"I held them off for the whole first lap then Reuben shot past me going into a technical downhill section but I managed to get him back on the inside, which I don't think he was expecting," Currie said.
Ruzafa, Shaw and Currie all left the transition to the 10km off-road run together and Currie turned on his trademark speed, hoping to leave his rivals behind.
"Asa dropped off but Reuben caught me at the end of the first lap and we ran together until the last kilometre when he just took off and I couldn't stay with him on the climb," Currie said.
"I was pretty happy with the transition out of altitude, especially as we arrived in Switzerland the day before the race. At altitude you feel unfit as your body is battling to take on oxygen so when you race at a lower level, everything seems easier."
Currie will travel to Xonrupt, in north-east France for the Xterra France race next weekend, on July 6, where he will be doing his best to finish one step higher up the podium.
- The Southland Times