Braden Currie picked up two big wins over the last couple of weekends, winning the New Zealand Champs at the Paymark XTERRA Rotorua Festival and the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship in New South Wales, Australia. Earlier this year, Currie had his sights set on qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio, but after falling short on points, he had to throw in the towel. Currie has come back to racing in the dirt and we caught up with him to see what these two wins and how moving past his Olympic bid has meant to him.
DirtTRI: After having to move past an Olympic bid, are you going to re-focus on cross triathlon for the rest of the 2016 season?
Braden Currie: I do feel stronger than I have ever been and I’m very passionate and motivated to make off-road a big focus for me. Coming 2nd last year [at the XTERRA World Championship] has only made me more determined to win this year! The last few months have created a solid foundation to start building on. I haven’t had this set up in the past as my summer has normally focused on bigger styles of racing and a variety of different disciplines such as kayaking. So it’s going to be a pretty exciting winter, starting fresh with my training in June.
DirtTRI: Are your wins from the past two weekends a factor in your choice of where to head next?
Braden Currie: These two wins do mean a lot to me, and have given me my confidence back in off-road. I’m stoked to realize I can come back from that as it was pretty brutal. But I’m glad to have had that experience as I don’t think I could ever be intimidated or stressed again going into any race.
“A lot of my success in off-road has been my head game and my head definitely took a punishing over the last few months!”
DirtTRI: If not cross triathlon, what will be your focus for the near future? Will you shift to long course road? If you do shift focus to other road disciplines, why?
Braden Currie: I’ve definitely got a few people out there in the 70.3 scene that want to see me pursue this. I’m sitting on the fence right now as I’m pretty happy with the off-road focus. My thoughts are right now to build into 70.3 in 2017. I think this is a smarter approach but that’s not to say I won’t be tempted to mix it up. I find it pretty hard to say no, so I’m just playing it by ear to see what comes up and feels right as the next few months play out.
DirtTRI: Why not put full focus on off-road?
Braden Currie: Like everyone out there in sport, business and jobs, we all want to do well and capitalize on our strengths and let’s be honest, time as an endurance athlete is short. 70.3 is booming right now with some solid prize purses and a lot of media attention. It’s hard to not follow the carrot. But part of me is also tempted to stay off-road and see if it’s possible to make it my life. I’ll let you know whether the carrot wins in the next few weeks.
DirtTRI: If you are focusing on cross triathlon, as the southern hemisphere racing comes to a close for 2016, will you be focusing on the Pan Am series or the European series for the rest of the year?
Braden Currie: I don’t think I’ll do either. I think a bit of local racing and some mountain bike cross country racing might be my best option leading into Worlds. We have had two northern hemisphere summers back-to-back in the last two years and I think my family might enjoy staying put this time around. But my wife is known to love a new adventure so we will see what happens.
DirtTRI: What do the coming days look like for you?
Braden Currie: I’ve just arrived home from Australia and I’ve planned to have 4 weeks off. For me this means ticking off some of the missions around the South Island that I’ve wanted to do for many years. My training approach over the last few years has been pretty dedicated, so it’s going to be nice to live by way of inspiration for a few months.
DirtTRI: Will the XTERRA World Championship be your big goal for the year, or the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship? Or both?
Braden Currie: Both!