January 12, 2009 (Bend, OR) – More than 50 athletes competed Sunday in the 2009 USA Triathlon Winter Triathlon National Championships under sunny skies at Mount Bachelor.
Brian Smith from Gunnison won the run, bike, cross country ski event with a time of 59 minutes, 3 seconds. Two-time defending champion Mike Kloser of Vail was second with a time of 1:02:15. Professional bike racer Carl Decker of Bend, Oregon took third place in 1:03:24.
At age 54, legendary mountain biker Ned Overend of Durango finished fifth overall, while 16-year old Christian Kloser of Vail claimed the male junior title.
The elite women’s race was decided very early with Nordic ski racer and Olympian Rebecca Dussault of Gunnison taking an early lead on the run and finishing with a time of 1:05:39. XTERRA racer Emma Garrard of California finished second in 1:15:20; and 2008 national champion Heather Best of Alaska was close behind in third with a time of 1:15:43. Lisa Isom of Vail came in fourth in the women’s race.
Also representing Colorado, Linda McDonald of Wolcott finished in the top three for the female 45-49 age group.
The top three men and women in the elite category receive a $1,000 stipend and paid entry fee to the World Championships in Gaishorn, Austria in February.
With a prize purse was $3,000, the winners earned $1,000 each while the second-place finishers took home $400 and the third-place finishers earned $100.
“The bike course was much better than last year, when the soft snow conditions forced almost everyone to walk for long sections,” said Bill Warburton, the race director. “The unusually warm, clear weather provided a perfect day for an excellent race and there’s talk of bringing the World Championships to Bend for 2010.”
About Winter Triathlon
Winter triathlon involves running, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing – all performed on snow. It is a perfect way to learn new sports, improve your base fitness, and expand your skills as a multisport athlete. The International Triathlon Union has been holding winter triathlon world championship races since 1997. The United States has hosted several winter triathlons in the past 10 years, with much of the activity based in the Rocky Mountain region, and the number is increasing.
In winter triathlon, the running is contested on hard-packed snow courses (usually packed ski trails) with distances ranging from 5-9K. Racers typically wear normal running shoes or cross country spikes. One way to get extra traction is to drill 8-10 sheet metal screws – 1/8 of an inch – into the bottom of an older pair of running shoes. This trick is also great for running in areas with lots of ice in the winter.
The mountain bike leg is held on packed ski trails for a distance of 10-15K. Competitors ride standard racing mountain bikes, often equipped with relatively wide tires run at low (about 15-20 psi) pressure. Tires with spikes are legal, though most competitors shun their use because of the additional weight.
The final event of winter triathlon is cross-country skiing. Courses are usually 8-12K in length and are contested on groomed Nordic ski trails. Classic or freestyle (skating) techniques are allowed, though most serious competitors use the freestyle technique as it is faster. Athletes wear Nordic ski suits or tights and long sleeve jerseys, gloves, and hats or head-bands depending on conditions.
Most race courses involve multiple laps of each leg to add to the spectator friendliness of the races. There is also a team relay race at the world championship. The team relay involves three athletes per nation, where each athlete completes a short distance of each of the three disciplines (i.e. 2K run, 5K bike, 3K ski) before tagging the next athlete for their turn. The first team relay was contested in 2002 at the Brusson, Italy championship, the same year the ITU Winter Triathlon World Cup series began. While most races have been held within Europe, the series finale in 2002 was held in Canmore, Canada, site of the Nordic skiing events of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.