After a very weird 2020, we’re (finally) now headed into 2021—but there are still a lot of questions left unanswered, in the world and in our sport. Who will help shape triathlon? Who are the people working in front of and behind the scenes to do exciting, new, or interesting things? Who should you keep your eye on in the next multisport year?
We racked our brains, scoured the tri-space, and came up with this varied list of multisport movers and shakers—all of whom we’re looking forward to watching in 2021. We can’t wait to see what they do and how they change the sport in the year ahead. We’ll be revealing one person at a time over the next two weeks, but Active Pass members can view the entire list right now. Today we’re highlighting pro triathletes Eric Lagerstrom and Paula Findlay.
Eric Lagerstrom And Paula Findlay
Both 31 | Troutdale, Oregon
It’s been a hard year for everyone, and no easier for pro triathletes whose jobs were put on indefinite hold with the worldwide cancellation of triathlon events. While some took the opportunity to lay low and knock out a big training block, start a family, or retire from the sport, Eric Lagerstrom and his partner Paula Findlay actually thrived. From February to April, the couple spent time living a slightly nomadic and off-the-grid lifestyle, quaran-teaming up with Heather Jackson to train and rediscover themselves—swimming, biking, and running without a thought to racing at all.
Not only did they rediscover their love for multisport, but a new audience of tri fans discovered Eric and Paula for the first time. For years, Eric had been producing a regular YouTube video series that takes a behind-the-scenes look into his life, but ironically it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that his YouTube channel really took off. “We’ve been seeing 10 times the amount of views on our channel since everything started,” Lagerstrom said. “We’ve doubled our Instagram followers.”
The secret to Lagerstrom and Findlay’s newfound success is a combination of factors: First, the duo is inherently photogenic, fun, and open about their ups and downs; second, Lagerstrom is a super-talented videographer (and for Findlay’s part, she helps with music and is increasingly featured on camera); finally, in the absence of any racing, fans of the sport still want to follow those who are immensely talented at tri and take a peek at what they do.
Though Lagerstrom said the big surge in interest is absolutely not a conscious effort (“It is great to see the work pay off that we’ve been doing for years,” he added), the structure of a weekly video series has been an added bonus. “It’s created a natural cadence to the week that’s essential,” he said, and adds that he spends anywhere from four to 10 hours per week on editing and post production.
Looking ahead, Findlay will seek to defend her title at Challenge Daytona—which is shaping up to be the pro race of the year—and Lagerstrom has now also gotten a special invite to the race. As for next year, while no one can predict what will happen, Lagerstrom is planning on creating more great content—regardless of whether pro racing restarts in earnest: “If we can continue to be us and pay the bills, then there’s nothing better than that.”