Races Held in Norway February 13-14
February 3, 2010 (Colorado Springs, CO) – On the heels of strong finishes at last month’s USA Triathlon Winter Triathlon National Championship, the five elite members of Team USA headed to the 2010 ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships in Eidsvoll, Norway are primed to continue their success on the international stage February 13-14.
Leading the way for the U.S. contingent will be repeat national champions Brian Smith and Rebecca Dussault, both of Gunnison, Colo. Jay Henry (Avon, Colo.) joins Smith on the men’s side, while Emma Garrard (Park City, Utah) and Heather Best (Fairbanks, Alaska) are also slated to compete with Dussault in the women’s elite race.
The individual races are slated for Feb. 13 with a team relay set for Feb. 14. Team members also have the option of heading to Norway early to complete in the European Winter Triathlon Championships, an ITU World Cup event set for Feb. 5-7.
A 2006 U.S. Olympian in Nordic skiing, Dussault earned an individual bronze and guided Team USA to a team silver in the relay at last year’s event for the first-ever winter medals for the U.S.
Since qualifying for worlds with top-three finishes January 15 at the Battle at Soldier Hollow outside Salt Lake City, Team USA has been hard at work preparing for the annual international competition.
“Speed, speed, speed,” said Henry, who is an accomplished mountain biker and a two-time USAT Winter Triathlon National Championship runner-up, when asked what skill he had been working to fine-tune since nationals. “In qualifying for the worlds team I shifted from general offseason training to much more event specific training. It will be a very fast and very intense race, and I have prepared for this as much as possible.”
Meanwhile, Smith said, “Over the last month, I have been training at a higher intensity in both my running and biking and practice fast and fluid transitions. At worlds, transitions can make or break your race, especially in the relay. I want to really focus on my Nordic skiing, as the top athletes have a very strong background there.”
This quintet is experienced on the international stage, and Team USA plans on using its veteran make up to its advantage. All five elite athletes have extensive international experience in endurance sports, and all five are veterans of the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championship.
“In the last three years I have learned a lot about winter triathlon and have been able to tailor my training to be more multisport specific,” said Dussault, who owns a pair of top-six finishes at winter worlds. “I will of course rely heavily on my Nordic background to really hammer at the end of the race. I believe it is an advantage to have your strongest sport at the end of the race when you are most fatigued.”
Best, who has posted three top-20 finishes at winter worlds after a collegiate basketball and volleyball career at Bradley University, also sees her experience as an advantage.
“I have gone to worlds the last three years and have improved my finish position each year. I hope to continue that trend this year. I am especially excited to finally have a worlds location that has a reliable snowpack and should allow us to hold all three disciplines on a snow course with a measurable base.”
With such an experienced crew heading to Norway, Team USA already knows the feeling of representing U.S. and hopes to see a great deal of red, white and blue supporters in the crowd.
“Last year in Austria we got really loud cheers for USA, probably second to Austria, the host country, so I felt very proud, especially when we got second in the relay, and I got to carry the flag across the finish,” said Garrard, who posted a ninth-place individual finish in 2009 to goal along with her relay silver medal.
“I am always very proud to represent the U.S. at international events,” said Smith, who was an 11th-place finisher at 2009 worlds. “I would like to prove to the athletes and spectators that we can be competitive with the best athletes on the planet. Given that this is my fourth trip to winter worlds, I feel I have the experience and knowledge to be competitive with the best athletes.
Smith, who has already captured a pair of XTERRA Winter World Championship titles, has his sights set on a world title of a different sort this month.
“This year we have the opportunity to race the European Championship event the week prior to worlds and spend the following week tapering and resting before worlds. Each season prior to this year, I have struggled with the jet lag and last-minute preparations prior to worlds. This year will be my best shot for a big performance.”