Kirsten Kasper is finally getting a chance to make a name for herself.

While the name might not immediately ring a bell, it should. At Georgetown University, Kirsten Kasper competed at four NCAA Division 1 Cross-Country Championships before trying triathlon. She’s only been in the sport for three years, but already she’s become one of the top American ITU athletes and an ITU World Triathlon Series contender. In May, the 26-year-old finally stood on a WTS podium with a third-place finish in Yokohama—a result that also boosted her to number one in WTS rankings at the time. In an era when being top five at a WTS women’s event could still mean you’re third or fourth American, Kasper is finally getting a chance to make a name for herself. After the 2017 season of WTS racing, Kasper sat just off the overall series podium in fourth. Meet the next generation of America’s ITU dominance.

Growing up in Boston, there’s a big sporting culture, and in my family sports were a big deal. My uncle played hockey in the NHL for the Boston Bruins and the LA Kings. He later coached the Bruins.

My time at Georgetown definitely helped prepare me for the big stage. I remember my first experience running at NCAA XC Nationals as a freshman. My coach and teammates told me, “Prepare for the crowds, it’s like nothing you’ve experienced before.” And it wasn’t until I could actually race it that I understood.

My first group ride was at a collegiate recruitment camp in Chula Vista. It was a two-hour ride, and I couldn’t believe how long it was. I was biking in a tank top and spandex running shorts. I didn’t have an actual cycling kit, so I was told by the coaches to go buy one.

I have a huge fear of sharks. But I handle it—I’ve raced in Cape Town twice and in the Gold Coast three times.

One of my proudest moments was being on that 2016 World Championship Mixed Team Relay. That was a pretty special experience, and to share it with three Olympians was definitely an honor. [Her teammates: Gwen Jorgensen, Joe Maloy and Ben Kanute.]

I still can’t really believe that I was number one in the WTS rankings. I guess it just shows that being consistent really pays off. It was surprising, but I’m glad the hard work is worth it.

I really look up to Gwen Jorgensen. She was new to the sport too, and for her to win the first American gold medal in triathlon is very inspiring to me.

Kirsten’s Faves

Boston-centric food:
You can’t go wrong with a lobster roll, some clam chowder or a cannoli from the North End.

Place to race:
Cape Town, South Africa because they had us finish the last 400 meters on the track. It felt like my college running days.

Tri fans:
Hamburg WTS and the Hamburg Mixed Team Relay. Even during the swim, we have fans right in our faces cheering us on.

Georgetown bar:
The Tombs. It was founded by a Georgetown alumnus and is located in the basement of a mid-1800s townhouse.