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Triathlon News & Notes: IM New Zealand Postponed, Katie Zaferes Announces Pregnancy, and More

The news from around the multisport world this week.

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Katie and Tommy Zaferes announce pregnancy…

Katie Zaferes’ July 2022 will look decidedly different from last year’s, when she collected two medals at the Tokyo Olympics. The 32-year-old announced in a joint post with husband Tommy that she is 20 weeks along with their first child. “The plan now is to focus on this little one, stay in contact with triathlon, do things I haven’t had the opportunity to do while training and racing full-time, and really just enjoy this period,” Katie wrote. In his post, Tommy spoke to his wife’s future in the sport, saying “This is not the end for her, just a break, so don’t worry, she will be back on the tri scene in 2023!” 

and Katie offers advice to fellow Olympian Mikaela Shriffin

Prior to her big baby announcement, Zaferes was asked what advice she would give American skier Mikaela Shriffrin, whose heartbreaking disqualification in her first two events at the Beijing Winter Olympics sparked more discussion about the pressure elite athletes face on the world’s stage. “Just don’t forget who you are, lean into that support crew that is around you and really feel all the love people are giving right now,” offered Zaferes, who, like Shiffrin, whose father passed away in February 2020, had to navigate the grief of suddenly losing her dad during a pivotal time in her athletic career. (Zaferes’s dad, Bill died just months before she raced in the Tokyo Games.) “You’re going out there to do the best you can and sometimes you fall short of that goal,” added Zaferes. “So the second part of that is just making sure that you get yourself back up.”

Ironman New Zealand postponed, Kiwi Currie pivots and wins adventure race

A developing Omicron outbreak has forced the postponement of Ironman New Zealand, originally planned for Taupō on March 5. “With the entire country remaining in the red setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework, it became clear the event could not be held on its original date,” race directors said in a statement on Thursday. The race is now set to take place on Dec. 10 in conjunction with Ironman 70.3 New Zealand. 

In light of the race postponement, pro triathlete Braden Curie pivoted and entered Saturday’s Coast to Coast Longest Day adventure race from Kumara to Christchurch, New Zealand. The 35-year-old Kiwi and Ironman champ dominated the race, which included over 100 miles of cycling, 22 miles of running, and 18 miles of kayaking,  winning in 9 hours, 45 minutes, 23 seconds. Currie had previously won Coast to Coast in 2013, 2014, and 2015. 

Two U.S. age-groupers medal at Winter Triathlon World Champs 

While last week’s World Triathlon Winter Championships in Andorra were mostly dominated by European athletes, five U.S. age-groupers made the trip to the tiny country in the Pyrenees Mountains to compete in the unique event—and two are returning home with hardware. Sheri Schrock of Cohasset, Minnesota, the 2022 U.S. winter triathlon national champion, finished second in the women’s 65-69 age group, completing the four-lap 5.4km run, three-lap 9km bike, and three-lap 9.3km ski with a time of 3:02:31. On the same course, William Head of Fort Richardson, Alaska, picked up a bronze in the men’s 25-29 age group, finishing in 2:11:46. While it was Head’s first time to the world champs, Schrock has been competing in the event since 2018 and has medaled each year since then. 

Pro triathlete’s bike crushed during a flight 

It’s among many a triathletes’ biggest fear when traveling: Finding your bike damaged after a flight. That’s just what happened to British pro India Lee, who earlier this week tweeted that her $13,000 bike was “crushed” during an EasyJet flight to Spain. Lee shared photos of the damage, adding that the bike’s thru-axle appeared to have been “sheared in half,” while other parts were also shattered. “Please can you help me sort this ASAP,” Lee asked the airline. “I’m a pro athlete and it’s my job to ride a bike.” Lee later shared that she had insured her bike through London-based Laka, who was “brilliant” in helping her sort things out, and that she was being set up with a new bike while working with EasyJet to deal with the situation.

Top pros recovering from separate bike crashes 

Lee isn’t the only pro who experienced a bout of bad luck this week. Both Canada’s Tamara Jewett and Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig are recovering from separate incidents on the bike. Jewett, a rising star on the 70.3 circuit, was heading out for a training ride in Tucson, Arizona when she was hit by a car as she waited to cross a road. She suffered a concussion and is “pretty banged up,” but remains optimistic, posting, “As far as I’m concerned, it’s actually my job right now to do that [take a step back] to ensure that my way back to being fast and fierce and competitive is as steadily and as quick as possible.”   

Meanwhile, Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and a competitor in the upcoming Sub 8 Project, reported that she broke her collarbone and two ribs and needed surgery following a bike crash near Zürich and will be training on a “limited basis” for six weeks. “This means that I will not be able to start the season at the Ironman in Dubai on March 5 as planned, but I am glad that nothing worse has happened and I am looking forward to later competitions,” she wrote. 

2008 70.3 world champion triathlete dealing with long-haul COVID

Joanna Zeiger, the 2008 Ironman 70.3 world champion, is featured in a story about research into COVID-19 long hauler syndrome. The 51-year-old contracted the virus five months ago and has since been hampered by brain fog, fatigue, and memory issues. She recently traveled from her home in Colorado to New York to undergo a series of tests to help researchers get a better understanding of how the virus impacts the lungs and central nervous system—perhaps help determine what kinds of drugs are needed to develop treatments for millions of “long haulers” like Zeiger.

Future of Ironman Lake Placid continues to hang in the balance 

The town of Lake Placid, New York continues to weigh the pros and cons of carrying on the decades-long tradition of hosting an Ironman each summer. The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) is in the process of presenting recommendations on the future of the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon, which may include a contract extension through 2023. ROOST is taking several factors into consideration, including mitigating traffic congestion on race day, establishing a better relationship with Ironman so community concerns can be promptly addressed, and even establishing a code of conduct for training camps that frequent the area prior to the July event. ROOST is set to provide a “solid recommendation” regarding extending the race beyond 2022 by March 1. 

In light of potential Peloton sale, Zwift makes mainstream media 

This Bloomberg News piece offers an insightful comparison between Peloton and Zwift, the virtual training platform beloved by endurance athletes everywhere. Specifically, the piece pegs Zwift as Peloton’s biggest rival when it comes to potential purchase by big-tech (Peloton is rumored to be up for sale after a series of fumbles over the past few months) and argues why the former would be a better acquisition target for companies like Meta Platforms and Apple. Pluses for Zwift, according to the author, include the bring-your-own-bike business model, the lower subscription fee ($15 to Peloton’s $39), and a sleeker user experience (virtual courses versus instructor-led classes). While there have been no reports that the owners of Zwift are considering selling, there is news of a “major hardware product” from the company within the next 12 months, said to include an indoor bike similar to Peloton’s but without the screen, and a smart trainer. 

Podcast Notes

  • Paralympic gold medalist Kendall Gretsch heads to the Triathlete Hour to talk about switching between paratriathlon and cross-country skiing & biathlon, the latter two in which she’ll compete in Beijing.
  • Pegged as “ones to watch” in 2022, U.S.A’s Chase McQueen and France’s Emma Lombardi share their stories with the World Triathlon podcast.
  • The Real Triathlon hosts, including Garrick Loewen, Nicholas Chase, and Jackson Laundry, offer their best tips for improving your swim on their latest episode.
  • That Triathlon Life chats about managing peak fitness as a professional vs. amateur triathlete, as well as the stresses of being a professional triathlete outside of training and racing.
  • On the Zwift PowerUp Tri podcast, Matt Lieto chats with Sarah True and Tim Don about their recent trip to the Specialized Win Tunnel with the Zwift Academy Tri Team, plus their recon of the St. George World Championships course.
  • Greg Bennett brings on Brazilian swimmer Buno Fratus, who has gone under 22 seconds for 50m more times than anyone else; he shares his journey in swimming as well as some setbacks he’s experienced along the way. 

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