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Who would win? Sam Hill vs Nico Vouilloz in their prime

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5/22/2014 7:08 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/22/2014 7:14 PM

Bench racing is fun, so let's throw some meaningless theories around.

Imagine Nicolas Vouilloz and Sam HIll are both in their prime at the same time, racing against each other. When I think about Sam's World Champs run at Val di Sole (yeah, i know he crashed but...), there's no way Nico could have ever touched him, right? I think about the World Champs runs I've seen where Nico has won and he seems untouchable, too.

The ultimate pinner vs the ultimate tactitian...who would be faster?

Sam at VDS 2008

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Nico at Kaprun 2002 (the 70ft Evel Knievel huck at 1:15 is nuts!)


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5/22/2014 7:34 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/22/2014 7:34 PM

The answer is "Sam Hill motherf#cker"

If they'd raced each other, nico would have studied rankin videos and figured out to go faster than soul and simple love for rowdy speed. And he would have beat sam hill on the regular just by being boring and figuring out how to do it.

But the answer is still "Sam Hill motherf#cker"

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5/22/2014 7:44 PM

Hard question, i mean Hill changed the way DH was raced, and he modified equipment beyond what Nico did...although Nico was also modding ahead of his years.

I think when you look at those raw rough proper DH tracks, I think Sam Hill would beat Nico (prime vs prime). But I think if we looked at the series this year, and the tracks they are using Nico would probably take more wins. On those epic tracks, think VDS, Schlad, Maribor, Champs etc I believe outright technical riding has the larger advantage than preparation, whereas PMB, Leogang, etc you can plan much better.

Sam Hill mutherf#cker!

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5/22/2014 7:58 PM

2012 Aaron Gwin takes everyone.

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5/22/2014 8:54 PM

Brains > Balls.

Nico would win the single-run race. Work smarter not harder, and he knew how to pick a trail apart. HIll's voracious speed and love of slashing corners is most certainly fast and entertaining, no doubt about it. However, only one of these two riders was call, "The Alien". Just "Givin' 'er" isn't how things work any more i.e. "The Hill Glory Days", and back are the days of strategy and race tactics from the Vouilloz epoch.

And of course, TEAMROBOT started throwing hammers and nullified the argument with "2012 Gwin" - meaning, I agree.

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5/22/2014 9:07 PM

I think Sam wins on the tech gnar and Nico wins on the stuff Ropelato runs his 29er on.

Never has a rider smashed tracks so hard yet looked so smooth doing it. Sam is a big time talent but seriously, has there ever been a better match between a riding style and bike?

Sam is just more fun to root for anyway. His comment that he never rode in the wet after his epic Champery ride was brilliant. Effortless genius is just more captivating than the kid who stays up all night studying.


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5/22/2014 9:59 PM

Gotta side with Teamrobot on the Gwin addage.

That aside, I think Hill would win on the wetter/sloppier courses while Vouilloz would fare better on the fast and dry tracks. Maybe.

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5/22/2014 10:02 PM

kidwoo wrote:

The answer is "Sam Hill motherf#cker"

If they'd raced each other, nico would have studied rankin videos and figured out to go ...more

Yezzir.

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5/22/2014 10:45 PM

It's a pretty impossible comparison really. It's like comparing Fangio to Schumacher or Senna with Hamilton. They are riders from different eras and the sport has changed massively, both in terms of the tracks and equipment they use. There's no doubt though, that both Hill and Voullioz were pushing the envelope when it came to bike development (Vouilloz working closely with Bossard on suspension and also running 3 bolts per disc to save weight).

Sam Hill in his prime was untouchable and I feel privileged to have seen him ride. I think that if tracks like Schladming, Champery and Val Di Sole were still regulars on the WC circuit, then Sam would still be winning races. But times change and it seems that we have moved away from those super steep, technical tracks in favour of media friendly, accessible tracks (but that's a different debate all together).

I think it's easy to forget the achievements of Vouilloz because he is 'last generation' so to speak. But you can't change the record books and 10 times world champion says it all to me. In terms of out right speed, yes, Sam Hill can match him, but Nico's dominance of the sport for over a decade (with rivals such as Peat, Barel, Gracia etc) is almost unmatched in any sport, not just downhill mtb. It's for that reason I would say that Vouilloz would be my choice.

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5/22/2014 11:48 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/22/2014 11:49 PM

Very tough to answer as the sport has progressed between Nico's heyday and Sams Heyday ...

HOWEVER - Sam won the Junior Worlds in 2002 on that same track thats in the video - Nico won the men with Minnaar 2nd.

SSpomer - see if you can dig up the results from that event? Would be interesting to see how far off Nicos pace Hill was ... would give you an indication right there.

But again as guys have said already - the tracks changed between 2002 when Kaprun was still in with a race time of 5 minutes

I found the world cup results times at http://www.tissottiming.com/Competition?id=00030F0304FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF&sport=CM&year=2002

And in 2002 at Round 1 in Les Gets the following happened (remember Hill was still a junior)

Les Gets: R1
Nico 3rd - 3:38.68 (+0.65 off the win)
Hill 10th - 3:44:48 (+6.45)

Looking at the stats for the 2002 season its quite interesting as Hannah and Minnaar are already consistent in the top 10 and 5 respectively. With Hill being a bit inconsistent (or missing events)

But in any case I would say the comp would come down to the track that suited the rider - If they were to be put together I would say Nico would be like Minnaar (totally consistent - top 3 at every event) with Hill annihilating everyone once in a while when he has a good day.

But If I had to choose - Id go with Nico!



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5/23/2014 12:56 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/23/2014 1:03 AM

As a fun comparison - Nico raced for Lapierre at Champery in 2007
I remember seeing his interview on one of Clay Porters movies?

Anyway that would be an interesting stat if someone could find it - its not on the swiss timing page

in qualis though -
One for Sam Hill and one for the rest- he took 15 seconds out of 2nd place! He stopped the clock at 4mins 1 second with France's Mickel Pascal in 2nd on 4mins 16secs. Nico Vouilloz in 5th

But then the article i found says that Sam in the mud put a minute into Nico ... OUCH!

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5/23/2014 1:35 AM

Sam Hill motherf#cker.

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5/23/2014 5:53 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/23/2014 5:54 AM

Nico's return in 2007 was a one shot event and He did not train for this race the way he used to at his prime. Look at his results in the past Garbanzo's - Vouilloz is still the master by a long margin! Hill is nice to watch when you're a rider or a racer ; Vouilloz was a pure racer. On dry, rocky, gnarly and very fast tracks Nico is an alien. Though Hill at his prime was on another planet, Vouilloz with his effortless style was unique. He still is for me the best clipless racer -he never clipped out when everyone else did.

Hill creates lines, Vouilloz creates speed. According to Blenkinsop, Nico would fight for a top 5 if he was still racing.

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5/23/2014 8:34 AM

nigelhicks101 wrote:

Very tough to answer as the sport has progressed between Nico's heyday and Sams Heyday ...

HOWEVER - Sam won the Junior ...more

alrighty nige, i found the results from kaprun 2002 world champs.

obviously sam was still young and figuring a lot out, but it's fun to look back and speculate!

Elite Men's top 5
1 Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra) 5.08.53 (70.30 km/h)
2 Steve Peat (GBr) 0.00.54
3 Chris Kovarik (Aus) 0.05.35
4 Cédric Gracia (Fra) 0.05.97
5 John Waddell (Aus) 0.08.69

Junior Men's Top 5
1 Sam Hill (Aus) 5.22.01 (68.18 km/h)
2 George Atherton (GBr) 0.01.61
3 Justin Havukainen (Aus) 0.02.61
4 Julien Camellini (Fra) 0.03.77
5 Mark Beaumont (GBr) 0.07.53

check out nico's bike and specs from kaprun here, too (pretty rad, semi-slick rear tire)
[LINK TO IMAGE]

nico was no slouch in the tech and gnar. the way he rallied the vail world champs course (especially that super steep bottom section) is still otherworldly.

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5/23/2014 8:43 AM

TEAMROBOT wrote:

2012 Aaron Gwin takes everyone.

didn't he win more races (5 of 7) in 2011?

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5/23/2014 9:07 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/23/2014 12:17 PM

Is George Atherton second in juniors the Gee we all know and love?

First off, Nico went way further in adapting his bike than Sam did. Sam said lower and slacker, which is obvious. Nico went as far as to design in lateral frame and suspension flex so that the bike would slither around as well as over obstacles. That aside, Nico was always about flowing through and surviving the rough stuff so he could lay down speed in his sit down pedal style on the smoother bits. Sam is just all about the attack. He conquers the rough with speed by going in hot and skipping over the rough like it's a set of whoops and then, again, attacks the pedals ass up and elbows out. As far as this forum question goes…Sam.

On the Gwin note, he's kind of a combination of the two which I think wins the day.

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5/23/2014 11:20 AM

Look at what how he prepared -by himself- his DH bike for the 2010 Garbanzo DH - http://mpora.com/videos/PZgr364sV

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5/23/2014 3:45 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/23/2014 3:49 PM

We all know Nico's numbers. Three Junior & Seven senior/elite World Championships, Five World Cup overalls and Sixteen individual World Cup round wins. But since you can't really go on numbers alone (you know different times, different tracks, different equipment, and just plain old different circumstances), I'm going to talk about some things he didn't do.

1:
He didn't win the elite World Championship in 2000, completely blowing any chance he had of being World Champion every single season as an elite.

2:
He didn't win the World Cup overall in 1997, 2001, or 2002. He spent 37.5 percent of his elite career not being World Cup Champion.

3:
He doesn't have the record for the most Men's DH World Cup round wins. Minnaar (still racing at 32) and Peaty (still racing at 40) have 17 wins whereas Vouilloz (retired at 26) only has 16 wins. Quitter!

4:
He got smoked by Hill at Champrey in 2007. He was only able to qualify 5th for goodness sake. So what Hill was in his absolute prime and Vouilloz had been retired for five years and hadn't even ridden a downhill bike for most of that time. Like that makes a difference. Everybody knows he went to Whistler to ride a DH bike for a week and did three or four regional races in France to prepare to race on probably the most difficult track in World Cup history, and 5th is all the higher he could qualify? Excuses excuses...

In all seriousness, it's fun to bench race this stuff, but we really won't ever know. Sam Hill is superhuman (as are the aforementioned Minnaar and Peaty) and I am a huge fan of all of them, but Nico Vouilloz was, is, and will always be "The Alien".

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5/23/2014 4:58 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/23/2014 5:00 PM

warthog wrote:

We all know Nico's numbers. Three Junior & Seven senior/elite World Championships, Five World Cup overalls and Sixteen ...more

@warthog

1. He did not won in 2000 because he had a flat. I was in Spain at the first part of the track and Nico was way way faster than Rockwell - he was at least 2-3 sec faster after about one minute.

2. In 1997 he crashed during training, had surgery and after few months of rehab he won the worlds. In the middle of the 1999 season, Sunn -the company he rode for- bankrupted and he -with the help of his dad he- created his own team. He put himself under pressure in 2000 to win as much as he could to reward his sponsors. In 2001 and 2002 he made the decision of not winning the overall, his goal was the worlds stating he could retire after 10 titles. Guess what? He did. It's funny because when he decided to win a WC in 2001 and 2002 he did it. From 2001 tracks became way shorter to reduce the cost of broadcasting.

3. I'd like to compare Nico's winning percentage with Hill, Peaty or Minaar. Vouilloz won 16 races in only 8 seasons -and I'd say 7.5 seasons because he did not raced full time in 1994. From 94 to 97 the DH world cup took place on 6 locations each year, 8 locations per year from 98 to 2001, 5 in 2002. I'm pretty sure Vouilloz beats Peaty and Minaard when it comes to winning percentage.

4. He said he did not trained in 2007. Okay he went to Whistler and raced few events in France but at that time he was a full time rally driver. I'd have one his training program from the early 2000 somewhere -it's mental!

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5/23/2014 6:09 PM

warthog wrote:

We all know Nico's numbers. Three Junior & Seven senior/elite World Championships, Five World Cup overalls and Sixteen ...more

Euskafreez wrote:

@warthog

1. He did not won in 2000 because he had a flat. I was in Spain at the first part of the track and Nico was way way ...more

@Euskafreez,
The way I wrote that was meant to be facetious. According to Google that translates to facétieux. I hope that is correct.
Being serious, I agree. Nico Vouillouz is the best ever men's downhiller in my opinion. Clearly no one beats Nico's winning percentage. I don't think anyone ever will.

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5/23/2014 6:42 PM

It's all good bro. If we are old enough to remember the glory days of DH racing it means we both are adults :D. And no it's not correct :/, for the average Joe in France you'd use "taquin" -even if google says taquin is French for teasing- I passed a bachelor's degree for that dizzy.

Gwin has a chance to beat him but it depends of Spesh tongue.

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5/24/2014 12:39 AM

Sam Hill motherf#cker

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I can ride my bike with no handlebar!

5/24/2014 4:38 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/24/2014 4:39 AM

Sam is the reason Nico retired! FACT! Haha. He saw the writing on the wall. He knew he wouldn't be able to compete with this little flat pedal marauder.

A year later while still a junior Sam's World Champs winning run would have been good enough for 3rd in senior...and he crashed in that run. Nico got out just in time.

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5/24/2014 9:33 AM

As far as I'm concerned, Sam Hill is still killing it.

Sure, he might not be winning now, but he is just as exciting to watch. As a Canadian, I'll always be rooting for Steve Smith to win anything he participates in, but to see Sam win another race (or Peaty for that matter) would be epic.

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6/5/2014 11:50 AM

It depends on the track, the steeper and more technical the more i lean towards Hill

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6/9/2014 3:59 PM

Sam Hill motherf#cker

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6/16/2014 8:18 AM

Nico of course. Why is this even an option?

Seriously, Nico was so far ahead of the other racers in terms of prep, training, equipment that it took up until the mid 2000's for everyone to adopt the same ideas. Now a lot of the field are really fit and the equipment is on a level playing field. Back then Nico had the best bikes and suspension, it just wasn't close. I think these are the reasons why he was so much better than everyone.

I don't get the love affair with Sam Hill. He can only do well on one type of track and he refuses to clip in, which would make him faster. He is a one trick pony. Nico, Minaar, Gwin, Smith, Peat - none of those guys can only ride one track. They are fast on everything. At that level you need to ride everything and stop f*cking complaining when a track doesn't suit you. Maybe if he swallowed his pride and clipped in he could find some extra pedaling power and keep up with the guys who are winning.

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6/17/2014 3:35 PM

Faction wrote:

Nico of course. Why is this even an option?

Seriously, Nico was so far ahead of the other racers in terms of prep, training, ...more

Sam Hill motherf#cker

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6/19/2014 12:06 AM

Faction wrote:

Nico of course. Why is this even an option?

Seriously, Nico was so far ahead of the other racers in terms of prep, training, ...more

kidwoo wrote:

Sam Hill motherf#cker

Faction - You have no idea what you are talking about.

Sam Hill has won:
2 Junior World Titles
3 Senior World Titles
Overall World Championships
Many World Cups
National Championships

You don't manage that many World Championship wins if you are a "one trick pony".

Sam Hill has NEVER "complained" about a track not suiting him. Tracks like Stromlo or Pietermaritzburg which do not suit him, he works his arse off to improve his pedalling, there's no complaint from him.

Sam Hill mother#cker

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6/19/2014 2:30 AM
Edited Date/Time: 6/19/2014 2:31 AM

I'm sorry but Faction is right. Sam Hill can't win on certain type of tracks. Sure he was the man to beat for few years. But at this time tracks suited him.

Sam Hill has a flamboyant style and he won on flats. But what Sam has done in 10 years is not even close to what Nico did in 8. I've been lucky enough to be a spectator on so many DH courses over the last two decades. Therefore I've seen the differences between the two -with my own eyes, not on television.

You can feel Sam is going fast -it's obvious- and his style is flamboyant but Sam Blenkinsop has more style than Hill. If you want to support the guy with the most enjoyable style to watch support him. But bro, when Vouilloz was charging with the victory in mind no one will ever come close to him. Vouilloz was able to create a 2 or 3 seconds gap on just ONE single move. And Nico was so silent and fast, his bike wasn't making any noise like the others -at a time alloy was the standard. Sam Hill is a very good rider don't get me wrong but Vouilloz is an exceptional rider.

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