I really love watching the Olympics, I look past the politics and look at the essence of the sport and the sportsmanship. I look at what has allowed these amazing athletes to become so successful and what we can take from it.
Here are my three big takeaways from the Olympics.
LESSON 1 – STAY CALM NO MATTER WHAT
In the Men’s cross country skiathlon, Norway’s Simen Hegstad Kruger was a big favorite to win. In the first 250 yards, Kruger fell, got knocked in the head, and broke his pole. He was now in last place. Without any panic he got back up, grabbed a spare pole, composed himself and set out to rejoin the group. Rather than a huge effort to quickly get back, he worked his way up steadily to the group. With 8km to go he was in the group in fifth place. Then, he put in an early push and ended up crushing his competitors, taking the Gold medal with plenty of room behind him.
The takeaway for triathletes is that regardless of any mishaps during your event or even pre race, from your goggles coming off in the swim, a flat tire on the course, or you can’t find your bike in transition (I’m guilty of this one) don’t panic. Adapt to the mishap, adjust your strategy accordingly and most importantly stay positive. If Kruger has said to himself that his race was over after his crash, he never would have put on one of the best performances of the Games. So, if you haven’t had a major mishap, you will eventually. Make sure you keep you head about you and make smart decisions.
LESSON 2 – TRAIN WITH A TEAM
The downhill skiers from Norway, the ones who called themselves the Attacking Vikings, they seemed to know what they were doing. As it turns out, they train as a team, race as a team, and have a lot of fun along the way. This camraderie is not only good for having a good time, but it also creates accountability. Not only can they not skip workouts, they are pushed by their teammates.
So, in your training, the next opportunity you have to train with others, you should do it and do it often. It holds you accountable to attend and to work hard. If Masters Swim club is too early in the morning, make the adjustment to get to the pool for that practice. If there are group rides or runs in your area, especially ones with a group of other triathletes, make an effort to get to those rides. You may find that you push yourself harder in a group setting than you can on your own. You may also find yourself having more fun too. If you want to stay in this sport, it has to be fun.
LESSON 3 – DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN
Did you notice that the most successful athletes there also seemed to either deal with the pressure or simply didn’t have pressure? As one skier pointed out, if your not having fun, whats the point? Yes it’s hard work, but in some sense it is also playtime. Sure beats painting your living room, or doing your taxes.
So, from the smallest race to the World Championships, it’s not luck that got you there, and it won’t be luck getting you across the finish line in a triathlon or a marathon. It will have hard training across many months. In order to have the consistency it takes to be successful, you must have some fun along the way. Maybe it’s finding a group to train with (see Lesson 2), maybe it’s making your workouts an adventure (ride to that coffee shop in the next town over), or simply enjoy the wind in your face on your bike. Your goals will drive you, but enjoyment will keep you coming back.
Jim Hallberg is certified by both USA Triathlon, USA Cycling and TrainingPeaks. He works with athletes of all ages and abilities and believes in a balanced training program to solidify your strengths and bring up your weaknesses. Jim is also a highly competitive triathlete, having won USAT Nationals in 2007, 2010, and 2016.
Two weeks ago, the Southern California News Group and OC Register broke the story of rampant sexual abuse in USA Swimming (USAS). The sexual abuse, largely perpetrated by coaches, was overlooked and/or covered up time and again by USAS and occurred over decades. Over this time period, there are over 590 alleged victims. Many coaches were held accountable through the criminal justice system, but were not banned from coaching by the USAS, or USAS was aware of the behavior (and didn’t do anything) decades before any criminal investigation was initiated. This, of course, comes on the heels of former USA Gymnastic (USAG) coach Larry Nassar finally being held accountable for the sexual abuse of over 200 young girls while serving as USAG’s medical doctor. In both cases, athletes came forward to their national governing body (NGB), law enforcement was involved at different points, and still victims weren’t believed and coaches weren’t held accountable.
We just finished the Winter Olympics, and many of you may have rejoiced in Shaun White’s gold medal. But did you know he was accused of sexual harassment by a former member of his band? He allegedly sent her explicit images of himself, asked her to wear sexually provocative clothing, and forced her to watch sexually disturbing videos, among other problematic and hostile behaviors. After his win, when asked about the allegations by the press, he referred to them as “gossip.”
While he later apologized for this comment, it is another example of how violence against women in sport is routinely minimized, erased, and covered up. White settled the lawsuit against him in 2017. His behavior apparently wasn’t severe (relevant?) enough for the USA Olympic Committee (USOC) to ban White from PyeongChang. When money and medals are at stake, pushing the sexual harassment of girls and women off to the sidelines is acceptable, right? After several months of pressure from senators and former Olympians, Scott Blackmun, the head of the USOC, just stepped down. Under his leadership, the USOC failed to intervene in numerous cases of sexual abuse that came to its attention.
Brett Sutton, a well known triathlon coach was also convicted of sexually assaulting a minor, a minor he coached. He was given a two year suspended sentence and was suspended from Triathlon Australia and ITU and is barred from coaching in Australia. Yet, he is still a successful coach, and his criminal act — because, yes, it was criminal — is hotly debated in triathlon circles, although generally receives very little attention overall.
Nancy Hogshead-Makar, former Olympic swimmer, runs Champion Women, an organization dedicated to supporting women and girls in sport. She is also a civil rights attorney and regularly represents college athletes with Title IX claims against their schools. She was integral in pushing for the resignation of USOC chief executive Blackmun. She shares: “The [fight against the] issue of sexual abuse in club and Olympic sports has been going on for about twenty years.” In 2014, she represented 19 victims of sexual abuse in the sport of swimming, and nothing really changed in US Swimming. In fact, USAS chief executive Chuck Wielgus was shortly thereafter honored by the USOC. But now, something is different, Hogshead-Makar laments. The #MeToo campaign and the women who came forward in the Nassar case “showed the depth of the emotional harm that occurs as a result of sexual abuse,” says Hogshead-Makar. This helped people understand, rather than dismiss, women’s repeated complaints of sexual abuse.
Last month, the U.S. Congress voted to pass the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act. This act, championed by Hogshead-Makar and many others, was signed into law on February 14th. The law does a few things including making NGBs, including the USOC, mandatory reporters of child and sexual abuse. They must report to law enforcement within 24 hours complaints alleging abuse. Prior to the law, NGBs and in the case of USAG, Michigan State University, argued they did not have a duty to protect if made aware of Nassar’s sexual abuse. And this is largely true. Olympic or professional athletes are not employees or students, and so Title XII and Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act do not apply to them. With the passage of the recent Safe Sport law, this will no longer be a legitimate legal argument. The law also extends the statute of limitations to 10 years from the point a person realizes they were sexually abused, and entitles victims to statutory and punitive damages. The U.S. Center for Safe Sport, based here in Denver, is also designated as the investigatory body for all sexual abuse complaints reported. If you are a USA Triathlon coach, you will have taken its sexual abuse module as part of your certification requirements.
The prevailing thread through the examples in this article, as well as many others, is the culture of silence surrounding the behavior of coaches and high profile athletes. There has been barely a peep about White’s sexual harassment case during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, and we know for decades leaders at Michigan State University, USAG, and the USOC did nothing about Nassar’s repeated sexual assaults on the gymnasts he was supposed to be caring for. USAS seems to be the same way. We will have to wait to see what happens with the Chicago area volleyball coach accused of sexually assaulting a number of his athletes. As a culture, we are routinely willing to look the other way and make excuses for perpetrators (who are almost always men). We need to ask ourselves why one girl’s or woman’s complaint is not enough to take seriously. Why does a coach’s word hold more sway? Why does it need to tip past 100 complaints for any substantive public action to be taken? How does power, money, and winning play into all of this? The decisions made time and again would lead many of us to believe a girl’s life is of less value than a coach’s reputation and winning gold.
Leaders in USAG and USAS covered up, failed to report, settled cases, and in some cases paid damages, while trying to desperately to keep the information out of the news. This takes effort. These are not isolated incidents of one bad apple. They are representative of a long term pattern of behavior that continually excuses incidences of sexual abuse. There has to be a network of people ensuring perpetrator behavior continues unchecked or to blame the victim and explain it away when a report does make the light of day. This is the problem and it is widespread. Silence is complicity. We must demand more from our NGBs, from the USOC, and from our fellow coaches. We must believe victims, and we must ensure the scores of coaches entering triathlon (or any sport) understand abuse of any kind will not be tolerated in the sport, will not be ignored, covered up, or hidden. There will be consequences. Each of us has an individual and collective responsibility to make sure this happens.
Hogshead-Makar urges: “When a victim and/or witnesses to sexual abuse is ready, please have them file a complaint with the U.S. Center for SafeSport. [They can also] call directly at: 720-531-0340.”
For his profession, Lowell Bailey wears a .22 caliber rifle strapped to his back. It has taken him across the world and to four Olympic Games, most recently to the biathlon mixed relay Tuesday night at Alpensia Biathlon Centre, where he skied the anchor leg for a United States team that finished 15th. His sport and his livelihood revolve around shooting. His competitors from other countries often wonder about his country’s relationship with guns…
Two-time ITU World Champion to pursue professional marathon racing
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — U.S. Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen today announced her plans to officially transition from professional triathlon and pursue a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the marathon. Jorgensen, who last year in Rio de Janeiro earned the United States’ first-ever Olympic gold medal in the sport of triathlon, makes the announcement after not competing in the 2017 season to give birth to her first child in August.
“Gwen will be forever remembered crossing the finish line in Rio to claim the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, a true watershed moment in the history of USA Triathlon,” said Barry Siff, President of the USA Triathlon Board of Directors. “But she has also personified the ultimate role model for all athletes by continually giving back to the sport through efforts like the Gwen Jorgensen Scholarship. On behalf of every triathlete in the U.S., I wish Gwen — as well as her husband Patrick, and their new son Stanley — great joy, success and happiness in every possible way.”
“USA Triathlon brought me into this sport, and now I’m incredibly privileged to step away at the top, with an Olympic gold medal. Though my near-future training will be focused on winning gold in the marathon in Tokyo, I will always be a part of the USA Triathlon family and look forward to embracing every opportunity to help grow the sport of triathlon. In fact, I hope this new adventure in running will play a big part in doing exactly that,” Jorgensen said.
“Gwen has left an indelible mark on triathlon in this country and lifted the sport’s profile to unprecedented heights through her remarkable career over the past eight years,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “As a highly accomplished athlete who is yet so balanced in other areas of her life, Gwen has always served as a tremendous ambassador for USA Triathlon and will be sorely missed. We fully support her decision to pursue new dreams as a full-time marathon runner, and wish Gwen and her family nothing but continued success in this exciting new chapter.”
A standout runner and swimmer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jorgensen was recruited into the sport in 2010 by USA Triathlon through its newly developed Collegiate Recruitment Program (CRP). That year she balanced work as a Certified Public Accountant at EY (formerly Ernst & Young) with training during her first season as an elite triathlete. She was named the 2010 USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year after a standout season in which she earned three podium finishes as a pro.
Jorgensen made the choice to pursue triathlon full-time in 2011, and claimed three ITU World Cup podiums. She qualified for her first U.S. Olympic Team in 2012 and was one of the United States’ top medal contenders in London, but suffered a flat tire on the bike and finished 38th overall.
Her 2013 season included a USA Triathlon Elite National Championship title, three ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) victories and a bronze medal at the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships.
Jorgensen went on to post a record-breaking 2014 season in which she became the first woman in ITU World Triathlon Series history to win eight career WTS events and five in one season. She claimed victory at the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and earned the overall world championship title, becoming the first U.S. triathlete — male or female — to win a world title since 2004. Jorgensen’s 2014 season also included a win at the inaugural Island House Triathlon, a two-day stage race in the Bahamas.
In 2015, Jorgensen went undefeated in seven WTS starts and extended her win streak to 12. She became the first U.S. athlete to win back-to-back ITU World Championships, and punched her ticket to the 2016 Olympic Games with a victory at the Rio de Janeiro ITU Qualification Event. She capped her historic season with a successful defense of her title at the Island House Triathlon.
Though her win streak was broken with a silver-medal finish at ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast in April 2016, Jorgensen earned two more WTS gold medals and a bronze as she built toward the Rio 2016 Olympic Games that August. She also helped the United States capture its first-ever ITU Mixed Relay World Championship title in June 2016 alongside teammates Ben Kanute, Kirsten Kasper and Joe Maloy.
As the heavy favorite in Rio, Jorgensen outran defending Olympic champion Nicola Spirig of Switzerland and claimed the gold medal, becoming USA Triathlon’s first-ever Olympic champion. She covered the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run in 1 hour, 56 minutes, 16 seconds, crossing the line 40 seconds ahead of Spirig. Jorgensen went on to place second at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final that September and take silver in the overall 2016 WTS rankings.
“It has been both a pleasure and an honor to work with Gwen over the years and to see her evolve from a newcomer in the sport to dominating the world’s best fields in Olympic-distance triathlon,” said Andy Schmitz, USA Triathlon High Performance General Manager. “Her accomplishments have permanently raised the bar within our U.S. National Team Program — for both women and men. And I have no doubt that her strong commitment to excellence will translate to a tremendous career in marathon racing.”
Shortly after the 2016 Olympic Games, Jorgensen announced her plans to run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, as well as her intention to start a family with husband Patrick Lemieux. Racing in her first-ever marathon, Jorgensen placed 14th in the elite women’s field with a time of 2:41:01.
She announced her pregnancy in January of 2017, and welcomed baby boy Stanley Allen Lemieux on Aug. 16.
Known for her strong run, it was a common sight for Jorgensen to make up significant deficits on competitors coming off the bike. In June of 2016, she overcame the largest deficit in ITU World Triathlon Series history in Leeds, England. Trailing Bermuda’s Flora Duffy by 1 minute, 40 seconds at the start of the run, she ran a 33:29 10k and won the race with a 51-second margin over Duffy.
Jorgensen leaves a legacy in the sport through the Gwen Jorgensen Scholarship, which she launched in 2014 to assist junior draft-legal triathletes and paratriathletes in their pursuit of excellence in the sport. More than $90,000 has been awarded to date in conjunction with the USA Triathlon Foundation, which contributes a matching grant. The recipients of the 2017 scholarship will be announced on Nov. 10. Gwen has also directly supported female development athletes by volunteering as a mentor coach at the USA Triathlon Junior Select Camp in Colorado Springs.
For Jorgensen’s personal announcement on Facebook, click here. For her complete career results and bio, visit usatriathlon.org.
These events go back to the summer of 2014 when we had the 1st “Pro’s vs “Amos” contest (“amos” is just a rhyming abbreviation for “amateurs”). There was achocolate chip cookie bake-off followed by adodge ball tournament. There was laughter and tears. *It was mostly the laughing and the cookies that inspired us to keep this “challenge” going.
Since then we’ve invited many strong, fun women to join in on the shenanigans. While the cast of women is ever changing (life happens), the spirit of this event never will. This will always be a somewhat silly celebration of the pure joy we all have for our sport.
Pros & Amos: Tri-Style
In a digital-cyber-y version of 303’s famous Pros v. Amos challenges, we pit famous local “Amo” Katie Macarelli opposite a couple “Pro” athletes you may have heard of… Olympic World Champion Gwen Jorgensen & Professional Triathlete Alicia Kaye! And we’re talking about how Pros live their athletic lives and learn their lessons, compared to Amos… What it’s like as a female role model, mistakes they’ve made, and how they’ve overcome obstacles along the path to stardom… Read on to find out who’s a brainiac with multiple degrees… who hurdles barbed wire fences with ease… and who’s favorite prize ever was 20 pounds of steak.
Here’s some background:
GWEN JORGENSEN Gwen Jorgensen is a professional triathlete from St Paul, MN. Gwen is a 2x Olympian, 2x World Champion (2014, 2015), and 17x ITU World Triathlon Series race winner. She also likes to read, try new foods, and hang out with friends and family.
2016 Olympic Champion
2015 World Champion
2014 World Champion
2012 U.S. Olympic Team Member
2013 USA Triathlon’s Triathlete of the Year
2014 USA Triathlon’s Triathlete of the Year
2015 USA Elite National Champion
2014 USA Elite National Champion
2013 USAT Elite National Champion (Sprint and Olympic Distance)
First USA Woman to win a World Triathlon Series race
15-time ITU World Triathlon Series Winner
2010 USAT Rookie of the Year
2010 USAT Elite Duathlete of the Year
ALICIA KAYE Alicia grew up in Canada and began participating in triathlon when she was 11 years old; she became a professional triathlete at the age of 14. Alicia spent her teen years racing triathlon while juggling her academic studies. While completing her undergraduate degree in Sport Psychology she met fellow triathlete and now husband, Jarrod Shoemaker. Since meeting Jarrod she has began racing for the United States and also completed her masters degree in Athletic Counseling. Some of Alicia’s proudest moments include winning Canadian Junior National Championships in 2001, and winning the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in 2013. In her spare time Alicia works as a mental trainer and runs a skincare company with her husband Jarrod, called Endurance Shield.
And our “Amo,” KATIE MACARELLI Katie is a Colorado native who grew up on a dairy farm on the Eastern Plains. She got her start in the Colorado cycling scene competing in triathlons for about five years until she realized that running is the worst. She’s a mom of two teenage girls, a year-round bike commuter who hates driving but loves cyclocross. She is currently the marketing manager for Feedback Sports.
Here we go! 1. Have you ever googled yourself? Any oft-repeated MISconceptions out there that you’d like to clear up? Any rumor or tall tale that just keeps popping up on Wikipedia? Here’s your chance to set the record straight. And if not, give us your best pretend fake fact.
GJ: I’ve googled my husband, Patrick Lemieux, but don’t google myself. I think one thing people may assume is that I come from a running background, however I actually come from a swimming background and didn’t start running until I was a junior in college.
AK: Yes, I’ve googled myself. It almost always just to find an image or to find articles written about a recent race. Maybe once every few years I’ll look to see if anyone is saying something mean or false, but I’ve never found anything truly negative.
KM: I work in the digital marketing realm, so of COURSE I have. The only misconception I’ve ever found was an article that listed me as living in Portland. I’ve never actually been to Portland, but it sounds lovely. *I generally disregard everything past page 5 on google, because it’s like reading the comments on Pinkbike. It will just make you mad and/or confused.
2. How has your rise to fame affected your performances? Has there ever been a time when the spotlight really helped you? Or worked against you?
GJ: I am an introvert, so it took some time to get used to the media attention and fans walking up to me. I now enjoy being able to share my experiences, but still need my alone time to recharge.
In 2012, after I qualified for the Olympics I had a bunch of media engagements lined up for the week of a WTS race in San Diego. I did an all day photo shoot along with other media the week leading into the race and I believe this contributed to my poor performance. I think I almost finished dead last.
AK: I had my breakout year in 2013 winning the Lifetime Series and Toyota Triple Crown. I thought it would be this ultra grand moment where everything would change. But life went on as normal, the money and/ or result didn’t change any of my relationships- we were just able to make a big fat mortgage payment instead;) What was interesting was in 2014 I really struggled to find purpose and meaning after achieving all my goals in 2013, trying to replicate them again in 2014 was an entirely different experience.
KM: I’m not famous, but I do find it hard to get to the start line to any race because I often stop to hug, heckle and/or say hello to friends. As it turns out, missing the start of a race directly impacts your performance.
3. Please provide five single-word adjectives that best describe you and what makes you tick.
KM: Enthusiastic. Loud. Empathetic. Droll. Indefatigable. (You said single-word, so I didn’t think I could use “over-caffeinated”)
4. Have you experienced being asked media questions different from your male counterparts that you attribute to gender? What’s your best example?
GJ: Can’t think of one off the top of my head, but I also try not to read into questions too much. I also have a poor memory so may have been asked something but have forgotten. I do believe there should be equal prize money for men and women (which there is in ITU which I love).
AK: This is a great question, I think our sport is pretty good about equality but the biggest gender difference I notice is that it’s ALWAYS the male winners picture in a newspaper article. Media outlets within our sport tend to include pictures of the women’s winner and why is the men’s race always written about first?
KM: No, because the media isn’t interested in me. However, I’ve been in many eye-rolling situations as a female working in a male dominated industry. I feel our industry (and society in general) is getting better about this but I still got called “Hon” only a few months ago by a guy my age who was visiting our office. I can assure you that I’m not his “Hon.”
5. What is the best PRIZE you’ve ever won, in your entire life of racing (maybe it was that 2nd grade field day ribbon…)?
GJ: Any prize that involves food! In 2015 I won a gravel road race and won 20lbs of steak.
AK: I won a race down in Tobago a LONG time ago, back in 2005 I think. The trophy was a beautiful wooden carved sea turtle, it’s still hanging on my wall at home.
KM: I won a pair of Tough Girl socks and a pint glass for 3rd place in my first ever Cx race (I raced it on my full suspension Yeti 575). I was instantly in love with cyclocross and bought a Cx bike about 4 months later
6. Race Day prep – name three best practices you always adhere to the night before a race… and three things you always avoid. What is your best example of a time you didn’t follow your own rules, and things fell apart?
GJ: Don’t try anything new (once I ate out in Japan and tried a dish I’d never had before and got food poisoning)
-Relax/put my feet up
-Avoid: unnecessary stress, being on your feet all day, and new foods.
AK: I don’t go to bed until I feel sleepy, I eat the same thing (chicken and rice) and I prepare everything the night before leaving race morning to be fairly stress free. Three things I always avoid the night before a race are any foods that contain caffeine, any foods high in fiber, anything my body isn’t used to.
KM: Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Race prep. That’s funny. Here are my “3 best practices”:
-Start looking for my wetsuit at about 10 pm. and run a load of laundry.
-Eat a bowl of Peanut Butter Panda Puffs and pack my bag in the dark so I don’t wake my family.
-Get a good, solid 4 hours of sleep.
Three things I avoid (due to life in general plus an incessant desire to self-sabotage):
-Consistent, focused athletic training.
-Having enough ______________ to make success an option (fill in the blank with any of the following: sleep, water, food, peace of mind, clean clothes, gas in the car etc)
Best example of things falling apart:
An example where things went wrong: Pretty much every race I’ve done since I turned 35. Recently, I had to hop a barbed-wire fence and run through a ditch to find the start-line. Good thing I grew up on a farm.
7. If you’re a Pro, do you ever find yourself wishing you were an Amateur? And if you’re an Amateur, every wish you were a Pro? Why?
GJ: I love what I do and am thrilled to be able to also make it my living. I do hate training when the body is tired and it is pouring rain outside.
AK: I went pro at such an early age that I almost can’t remember what it’s like to race as an amateur. Triathlon has been my life since I was 14 years old, and I began participating in them at 11. I think what I’ll miss when I don’t race as a pro someday is a clear course!
KM: Nope. Waaaaay too much pressure. I race because it helps me conquer my fears, which is a good example for my daughters and other women. Oh, and also: its good preparation should things go south and we find ourselves in a post-Apocalyptic scenario. If I had to do that as a job, I’d undoubtedly get fired.
The U.S. women’s cycling team, which bikes outfitted with specially made power meters from Boulder’s Stages Cycling, claimed silver in the team pursuit.
And Gwen Jorgensen became the first American to win the triathlon. The Minnesota resident and two-time world champion is an official partner of Boulder’s Training Peaks, and has been using its software to analyze her training for several years.