303Radio interviewed Rocky Harris who was named CEO of USA Triathlon in August of this year. Since then Rocky has been working on a strategic plan, meeting with many constituents to bring some new perspectives to the governing body of Triathlon in the United States. One of his major objectives is simply increasing participation by embracing all distances and disciplines and growing the sport across all communities.
Rocky has spent much of his career in team sports ranging from Communications director for the Houston Texans to a member of the Super Bowl XXXVIII host committee and Director of Sports and Marketing for Reliant Energy. He most recently work for Arizona State University as Chief Operating Officer with direct oversight of Sun Devil Athletics. Here he was a key proponent in helping ASU become the first NCAA Power Five conference school to adopt triathlon.
Listen in to his great energy and personal passion for the sport of triathlon.
*we apologize for some unforeseen background noise that can be a bit distracting here and there, but still worth a listen!
For triathletes who hate the running part, there’s a new sport that offers a path to glory
When I proudly told friends that I had qualified for the world championships in aquabike this past August, at age 60, I faced blank stares and concerned questions.
“How does the bike move in the water?”
“Do you practice on a stationary bike in the pool?” my brother-in-law asked.
The answer is that aquabike is a relatively new sport in triathlon, a race that normally includes a swim, bike and run. In aquabike, you get to skip the run.
While races vary, the most common distance is a 1.2-mile swim and a 56-mile bike ride. “Swim, bike, done,” enthusiasts say.
While the number of participants in triathlons has declined in the past few years, aquabike is growing rapidly, partly by appealing to older athletes with running injuries.
“It’s growing like a weed,” says Chuck Graziano, a director of USA Triathlon who has a titanium knee and competes in aquabike. “It doesn’t include the pounding of running. It can be age-related, injury-related, or people who just prefer not to run.”
Indeed, the number of aquabike races sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body, has more than doubled in five years to 562 races with 5,160 aquabikers last year.
Select elite athlete, age-group athlete and contributor nominees to be inducted next August in Cleveland
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The deadline to nominate elite athletes, age-group athletes and contributors to the ninth induction class of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame is approaching quickly, with nominations being accepted until Dec. 1. New inductees to the Hall of Fame will be honored during a banquet in Cleveland on Aug. 9, 2018, in conjunction with the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships from Aug. 11-12.
Launched in 2008, the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame serves to recognize, honor and commemorate those individuals and groups that have demonstrated excellence in every aspect of multisport, thereby inspiring others to elevate their own performance, participation and community involvement.
Categories of eligibility include elite athletes, age-group athletes and contributors. The elite and age-group athlete categories recognize individuals who, while licensed as an elite or age-group athlete respectively by USA Triathlon, competed with great success in national or world events over a period of years; demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship; and contributed in other ways to the betterment of multisport.
To be nominated in the elite category, an athlete must not have competed as an elite for at least three years prior to consideration or must be at least 40 years old.
For both elite and age-group categories, achievements in all disciplines governed by USA Triathlon may be considered — including triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, paratriathlon, off-road triathlon and winter triathlon.
The contributor category is intended to honor an individual who has made significant contributions to the growth, reputation, character and/or success of any of the disciplines governed by USA Triathlon. A wide variety of roles may be considered under this designation, including but not limited to: sport pioneers; event organizers; officials; coaches; trainers; inventors of equipment, processes or systems; members of the media; volunteers; or others who have served the governing body.
Anyone may submit nominations in one or multiple of the eligible categories. All nominations will be reviewed by a selection committee to ensure that nominees meet the criteria. All nominations meeting the criteria will then be forwarded to a voting committee, which will consider the merits of each nominee and make the final designation.
The nomination form is available at usatriathlon.org/halloffame and can be either completed and submitted directly online or emailed to Ellis.email@example.com.
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.
Colorado Mesa University is the first NCAA Triathlon program in the State of Colorado. We caught up with head coach Geoff Hanson to learn about the Maverick’s first season and this foundation-building year. “This first season has been a learning process for all of us. It’s something we talk to our team about and the kids we recruit. We are the one and only NCAA [triathlon] program in the State.”
We asked how important the relationship with USA Triathlon is to the success of starting and growing triathlon as a women’s NCAA sport. “USAT is the driving force in all of this. What they have is a grant system to get NCAA programs started. The support from the top of USAT is only going to help the sport grow. When you see the momentum growing, other schools want to get involved.”
There are seven women and seven men on the roster at CMU. They come from a variety of backgrounds including cross county, cycling and swimming, but most everyone is new to the sport of triathlon this year, and draft legal racing in particular. The Mavericks qualified for the National Championship at the Pumpkinman Triathlon in Boulder City, Nevada on October 21st. Just prior to the team getting on the bus for Tempe Arizona, we asked coach Hanson how the team was feeling. “They’re excited and it should be a great race. We’re just incredibly honored that we could qualify for the national championship in our first season”.
USAT put out a press release earlier this week summarizing the race and Arizona State University’s title defense among the 11 varsity teams and 10 club teams. The race included high profile figures such as 2016 Olympian Ben Kanute and USAT National team member Renee Tomlin as announcers. When asked about CMU’s performance in Tempe, coach Hanson told us “Our top finisher, Hannah Brockie, was 39th overall out of 83 starters in all divisions. She was the 11th finisher among the Division II competitors. I was very pleased to have an athlete finish in the top half of such a talented field. As our program concludes its first year of NCAA competition, I feel like we have laid a great foundation to build on and I’m excited about the future of CMU Triathlon!”
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Rocky Harris, a multifaceted professional sports executive and collegiate athletics administrator, today was announced by USA Triathlon President Barry Siff as the new Chief Executive Officer for the National Governing Body.
Harris, who was named to SportsBusiness Journal’s prestigious “Forty Under 40” list in April, spent the past five-plus years as an athletics administrator at his alma mater, Arizona State University, and comes to Colorado Springs with two decades of experience across professional and collegiate sports, as well as the corporate sector. An age-group triathlete, Harris has been instrumental in helping grow triathlon at the collegiate level and has been recognized for developing and implementing innovative initiatives throughout his career.
“The USA Triathlon Board of Directors is unanimously enthusiastic about welcoming Rocky to help lead our sport forward here in the U.S. and on the international stage,” said Siff. “Rocky brings 20 years of demonstrated leadership in key areas consistent with our new strategic plan: building collaborative partnerships, listening and working closely with key constituents and stakeholders, and being an inspiring leader of people. His passion for triathlon is extremely high, and we are confident he can help grow our sport in an effort to make a healthier America.”
“I want to thank Barry, the USA Triathlon Board of Directors and members of the hiring committee for the opportunity to work with a sport I’m truly passionate about and to serve the triathlon community,” Harris said. “I look forward to furthering a culture of excellence at USA Triathlon and working alongside the talented staff already in place who share my belief in triathlon’s special ability to bring people with different backgrounds together from across the world. The chance to take a sport I love and make it accessible to all communities and relevant to all generations, as well as build upon USA Triathlon as an inspirational and innovative brand, will be an exciting and fulfilling challenge. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made at ASU and confident the athletics department is set up for long-term success under Ray Anderson’s leadership.”
Harris and the USA Triathlon Board of Directors have already identified a number of priorities to advance the organization’s strategic plan, including creating collaborative partnerships within the sport and enhancing technology to engage new audiences. Additionally, Harris will look to collaborate with the High Performance department in support of the U.S. National Team, and find ways to increase value for members, coaches, race directors, clubs, elite athletes, volunteers, officials, corporate partners and others touched by the sport.
Harris’ role at ASU evolved throughout his tenure, with his most recent position as Chief Operating Officer, a role that included direct oversight of the strategic planning, implementation, administration and day-to-day operations of Sun Devil Athletics.
“Simply put, Rocky is not only one of the best administrators I have worked with in my career, but he is also one of the most well-rounded individuals I know,” ASU Athletics Director Ray Anderson said. “He is passionate, genuine, dynamic and strategic, and his unique skill set and perspective will undoubtedly help him flourish in this new role.”
Held at the University of Colorado and co-sponsored by USA Cycling and USA Triathlon, this 3-day event focused on the business and science of coaching endurance athletes. Keynote speakers included six-time Ironman champion Dave Scott, USAT running coach Bobby McGee and Dirk Friel from TrainingPeaks.
Participants had the opportunity to listen to talks in sports physiology and coaching business. In this year’s format (2016 was the inaugural summit) there were 20-minute business roundtables, where coaches could break into small groups to hear quick presentations on business law, running a multi-coach business, enhancing your social media presence and using TrainingPeaks’ coach referral program.
Networking opportunities were built into the design throughout. Roka hosted a swim workout and Dave Scott a run workout, both on Friday morning before sessions began. Retul hosted a pre-conference networking session at their new facility on Airport Road in Boulder.
Coach Raeleigh Harris said, “The summit showcased the best coaching methodology, technology and leadership available to us today, all in one location. Total immersion into this setting was invaluable moving forward in development of Coaching services and supporting platforms.”
Emceed by Barry Siff, President of USA Triathlon, this even earned coaches 12 CEUs. Training Peaks plans to bring this event back to Boulder in 2018.
Nation’s top amateur triathletes to compete for national titles in sprint and Olympic-distance events
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — More than 4,000 amateur triathletes are registered to compete at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, happening this Saturday, Aug. 12, and Sunday, Aug. 13, at Levi Carter Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Age Group Nationals weekend is USA Triathlon’s largest and longest-running National Championship event. Also held in Omaha in 2016, the event will feature two days of competition with national titles up for grabs on each day.
Races begin at 7 a.m. CT each day, with the Olympic-Distance National Championships on Saturday and the Sprint National Championships on Sunday. The Olympic-distance event, which has been held annually since 1983, features a 1,500-meter swim, non-drafting 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run course. Athletes in this race qualified to compete based on a top age-group finish at a previous USA Triathlon Sanctioned Event. The Sprint National Championships, which have no qualifying criteria, will feature a 750m swim, non-drafting 20k bike and 5k run.
On both Saturday and Sunday, athletes will be competing for national titles in their respective age groups. Top finishers in each age group will also earn the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2018 ITU Age Group Triathlon World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, in their respective race distances.
The top 18 finishers (rolling down to 25th place) in each age group of Olympic-Distance Nationals will automatically earn a spot on Team USA.
Sprint-distance competitors must finish in the top six in their age groups to secure a spot for the Sprint World Championships, which will feature a draft-legal bike leg. Athletes can also qualify for the Sprint World Championships by finishing in the top-12 in their age groups at the Draft-Legal World Qualifier in Sarasota, Florida, on Oct. 7, 2017. More information about Team USA qualification for the sprint race is available at usatriathlon.org.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia are represented by the competitors in this weekend’s field. The youngest athlete on the start list is 14 years old, and the oldest is 88.
In total, 16 national champions from 2016 will be back to defend their Olympic-distance age-group titles.
Colorado Athletes Racing both the Sprint and Olympic distance events:
William Ankele Jr
Mother/daughter racing Sprint
Christy & Hannah Croasdell
A tremendous achievement for any able-bodied soul, Becky had to work harder than most, both physically and mentally, because she is paralyzed on her right side.
Just four years ago she was an accomplished runner and XTERRA athlete, living in Guam with her husband Sam, stationed in the military there. During a home invasion, she was beaten, and according to doctors, was with an hour of dying. But she didn’t die. She survived, and learned to talk and eat and walk again.
She GOT BACK UP.
In June, 303 reported on Becky’s “comeback” off-road triathlon at XTERRA Lory: Becky Piper: Xterra Nats qualifier, savagely attacked, comatose & paralyzed, and back to Xterra again – at local Lory race
We followed her closely yesterday as she tackled the next goal on her list, IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder.
303’s Para-Tri ambassador Sasha Underwood is a close friend of Becky’s, and frequent training partner and guide. She was at every turn of Saturday’s race, and was overwhelmed with pride and emotion as Becky hit each milestone.
Becky is everything I strive to be; sheer grit, tenacious, positive, gracious, kind, courageous, strong, an amazing sense of humor, and she’ll probably kill me for saying this but she is inspiring – but not because she has a disability .. it’s because she finds a way to do anything and everything whether it’s racing, or becoming a USAT coach, she doesn’t accept “no” or “can’t” and nothing can stop her.
Sasha captured these pivotal moments of Becky being carried out of the water by her husband, and the crowning moment of crossing the finish line, just behind the similarly-inspiring story of Team Agar.
Swim exit video:
Becky Piper said she hopes news of her first Ironman 70.3 reaches someone who is living with a mobility issue.
“I just want to get the word out that if you have foot drop, then your life and your quality of life isn’t over,” she said. “There’s tools out there and there is technology out there to improve your quality of life. And not to give up. Don’t give up.”
“Continuing its commitment to grow the sport of triathlon, the Life Time Tri Series, produced by Life Time®, Healthy Way of Life, introduces new athlete-friendly innovations and format changes to make the sport simpler, more accessible and more exciting for new and veteran athletes.”
The new innovations include some barbs against triathlon’s governing body, USAT:
A Simpler Experience
No Hidden Fees: Finally, all-inclusive race registration pricing, which includes insurance and race registration fees – and no requirement for a USA Triathlon membership.
Coach Support: Expert coaches provide free, online training programs upon registration, as well as face to face race insights at every event.
New Officiating: No more surprises. Life Time Tri will utilize IRONMAN® and ITU rules assessment, including implementing penalty tents.
“Life Time confirmed to Slowtwitch that USA Triathlon is out. Not only will USAT’s rules not be used, and pass-thru annual and one-day memberships not be charged to registrants, the races will not be sanctioned by triathlon’s U.S. governing body.“
Around the same time, Bob Babbit hosted Breakfast with Bob at the New York City Triathlon with an update from Scott Hutmacher on LifeTime Tri’s newly announced initiatives. Hutmacher says the breadth of the LifeTime company covers the insurance, which means USAT sanctioning is not necessary. He also states, “we have no animosity with USAT.”
USA Triathlon’s president, Barry Siff, responded to LifeTime’s decision with this letter to USAT members:
Dear USA Triathlon Key Stakeholder:
Greetings, I hope this finds you well and your season has so far proven to be both rewarding and enjoyable!
I am writing to address last week’s announcement by Life Time Tri that it will no longer sanction its eight races with USA Triathlon. This announcement resulted in the circulation of misinformation, as well as several questions being posed to us. None of these items are new, and we have addressed them many times over the years.
However, as we continually strive to communicate openly and proactively with our community, I wanted to once again clarify some specific points:
The benefits of sanctioning with USA Triathlon are many.
Experience – USA Triathlon has sanctioned more than 40,000 races over the last 35 years, delivering athlete peace-of-mind by ensuring, among other things, industry-wide safety standards and high-quality event criteria.
Event Services – USA Triathlon offers an experienced and expert team to support race directors and event production companies with questions and issues, as well as provide certification, best practices, educational opportunities, and other resources.
Risk Management – Sanctioning ensures unmatched insurance protection designed specifically for multisport events – not gym memberships – to cover the event, the athlete, and the venue at the most nominal cost possible. Athletes (and their families) and race directors who have unfortunately needed to utilize this general liability and excess medical coverage, including in the tragic circumstances of catastrophic incidents, can personally attest to its irreplaceable importance. The costs incurred by USA Triathlon and our policy providers to cover claims and defend against unwarranted lawsuits have saved race directors tens of millions of dollars over the years.
Other points of clarification:
The cost for a USA Triathlon one-day membership is not a “hidden fee” as alleged by Life Time. Race directors are strongly encouraged to always notify athletes in advance about the requirement for either USA Triathlon annual or one-day membership.
Utilizing USA Triathlon Rules and Certified Officials does not result in “surprises” for athletes. In fact, just the opposite. Implementing penalties mid-race (i.e., penalty tents) actually does the following:
Removes the ability for any due process or realistic appeals by athletes – The process of assessing USA Triathlon penalties does not interfere with the athlete during competition, but instead allows the athlete to address any concerns about the violation after completing the race, and may result in the penalty being rescinded should a mistake be determined.
Threatens on-course safety – For sprint- and Olympic-distance age-group races, having officials on motorized vehicles directing athletes in real time to penalty tents can significantly decrease on-course safety, particularly on the bike leg. Short-course races for at-large age-group athletes differ considerably from long-course races, elite races, or age-group world championship races where penalty tents can all be more effectively integrated.
Regardless of claims to the contrary, customized event offerings such as the ability for athletes to choose their own wave/start time or have greater access to transition areas, are already being implemented at other sanctioned races and are not new concepts. There are many examples currently within USA Triathlon’s 4,000-plus sanctioned races where these approaches and other innovations have been successfully offered. Our goal as a sanctioning body is to be flexible and accommodate event-specific requests whenever possible, provided they do not compromise safety or the quality of experience for the athlete.
For competitive athletes, sanctioned races provide coveted points for USA Triathlon Regional and National Rankings (comprised of more than 37,039 athletes in 2016), including USA Triathlon All-American status. And only sanctioned races provide the opportunity to qualify for USA Triathlon National Championships and the chance to represent your country at ITU Age Group World Championships as a member of Team USA.
As the official National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of triathlon in the United States, we are responsible for selecting and training teams for international competition including the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are dedicated to supporting and growing youth and women’s participation in our sport. Our commitment to paratriathlon is perhaps the strongest and most successful in the world. We help educate first-time triathletes, as well as race directors, coaches and officials. And we have a very strong Safe Sport program, helping protect our members, including the most vulnerable.
The fees for one-day and annual memberships are recirculated back into the sport to accomplish all of this – and more – while fulfilling our mission to advance and promote the sport of triathlon. For example, this year we will award $60,000 in youth grants, directly assist high school programs and state championships in significant ways, and continue to support our NCAA Emerging Sport for Women initiative in order to reach full championship status.
Change for the sake of change is not a compelling strategy. Ultimately, the sport loses as a whole . . . a “strategy” that is not good for anyone.
As always, we welcome feedback, questions and concerns, so please feel free to contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our commitment to you and our great sport is unwavering, and we thank YOU for being such an important part of it.