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American triathlete Suzie Snyder was still buzzing just three days after she recorded the first professional win of her career. Last weekend the 33-year-old from Fredericksburg, Va. recorded the fastest swim of the day and went on to hold off a surging Lizzie Orchard (NZL) to cross the line 55 seconds in front of Orchard and three other Kiwis at XTERRA New Zealand at Blue Lake in Rotorua.
“It felt awesome,” Snyder told Triathlete.com on Tuesday while attending an XTERRA press conference in Sydney, Australia. “I guess you could say it’s about time.”
The former Springfield College (Mass) pole vaulter made the switch to triathlon 12 years ago and immediately found success as an amateur with a couple of XTERRA world titles, as well as four national championships. Until her victory in Rotorua, Snyder had been shutout since stepping up to the pro ranks in 2010.
Now Snyder hopes to make it two straight when she lines up this Saturday, April 18, at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships in Jervis Bay, just 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Sydney—but she knows doing the double “Down Under” will not be an easy task.
“Of course, I’m always trying to win,” said Snyder. “I would love to have a clean sweep Down Under, but I realize this is a different race with different course and a much deeper field.
“That being said, I’ve raced all these girls before so I know how tough they are, but I’m not going to count myself out as that’s a sure fire way not to win. But at the same time I can’t expect it or put pressure on myself.”
With a $50,000 prize purse on offer, the world’s best have descended on New South Wales. In fact, five of the top 10 from last year’s XTERRA World Championships in Maui will be on the start line at Callala Beach for the 1.5km ocean swim, followed by a 30km mountain bike and 10km trail run.
Reigning XTERRA world champion and two-time Olympian Flora Duffy (BER), who has won two XTERRA races this season (Philippines and South Africa) and is fresh off a fifth-place finish on the Gold Coast in the third round of the ITU World Triathlon Series last weekend, will be looking to spoil Snyder’s plans to make it two in a row. While Worlds runner up Barbara Riveros (CHI), along with Jacqui Slack (GBR) and Carina Wasle (AUT), among others—including Ironman champion Caroline Steffen (SUI)—could push Snyder off a potential podium.
However, Snyder, who recently made the switch to Boston-based triathlon coach Tim Snow of QT2 Systems, is confident in both her form and her strategy.
“I think I’m pretty well-rounded,” said Snyder, who claims she’s improved “leaps and bounds” since joining Snow six months ago. “While my swim is my strength and I was fast in New Zealand, I’m rarely first out of the water, nor am I usually the fastest rider or fastest runner, but I am well-rounded.
“If I can just focus on my own race and my own processes and put it all together, I have a good chance of making another podium.”
For Snyder, who is in the midst of moving to Reno, Nev., “making podiums” is all a part of the bigger picture for 2015.
“Without a doubt, the world championship is my ultimate goal,” said Snyder, who finished sixth in Maui last year. “I want to make it into the top three at every race from now until Worlds.
“New Zealand was a great start and now I want to keep the momentum building.”
Aaron S. Lee is a professional cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor for Triathlete.com.