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They’re inspirational, powerful and changing the sport of triathlon from the inside out.
The staff at Inside Triathlon asked: Which 10 people had the most influence on triathlon in the United States in 2012?
Our list, ranked in order of impact, was chosen based on 2012 happenings—not based on influence since the creation of triathlon. It reflects the group of people who are directing the future of the sport, are changing the general perception of the sport—positively or negatively—or are molding the minds within the sport. Read about #10 here, find out who #9 is below and check back throughout the next two weeks to find out our complete list. Don’t want to wait? The complete list is in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon, on newsstands now.
#9: Mat Steinmetz
“The Speed Technician”
Armed with degrees in exercise physiology and sports performance from a mecca of sports science, the Human Performance Lab at Ball State University, Mat Steinmetz settled in Boulder, Colo. “If you want to be in the thick of things in the endurance world, you have to go to where the best live and train,” he says. Steinmetz got his foot in the door of this world by working at Retül, where he began advising the likes of world champion Craig Alexander on bike fit.
Steinmetz had more to offer than tweaks to cycling position, as it turned out. Noticing that the world’s best triathletes didn’t receive the same level of attention that the elite cyclists did—in certain cases related to training, diet and technology, some were just “winging it”—Steinmetz began to offer more but through exceptionally small, concrete steps. As his work with athletes like Alexander, Julie Dibens and Tim O’Donnell grew in scope, he grew from status as a technical adviser into that of a coach. With his reputation for being data-driven and his skills in fine-tuned research, he began to get noticed in the pro ranks. In 2012, he assumed the role of coaching 2010 Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae to her podium finish in Kona.
Continued success of the athletes Steinmetz is working with will undoubtedly propel him further in his mission to redefine the professionalism of coaching in triathlon, with the potential for trickle-down to age groupers everywhere. Through his new company, 51 Speedshop, Steinmetz offers his services as a consultant and coach to all ranks of athletes. In bike fits, wind tunnel testing, one-on-one consultations and clinics, the effect of his approach to the sport is widening.
Path to Influence:
2006 | Earned master’s degree in exercise physiology from Ball State University, a mecca of American sports science.
2009 | Began working at Retül in Boulder; also began consultant relationship with Craig “Crowie” Alexander.
2010 | Coaching work with Crowie became “full blown.”
2012 | Became Mirinda Carfrae’s head coach. Launched website (Fiftyonespeedshop.com) and coaching operation for age groupers.
Guess who’s #8 on our list by his Path to Influence:
1982 | Detleft Kuhnel is the first German to race in the Hawaii Ironman.
1984 | Kuhnel stages triathlon in Roth, Germany, which ultimately gets the notice of the Hawaii Ironman’s race director, Valerie Silk, and is granted a license. The race becomes Ironman Roth.
2001 | Kuhnel sells the race to this man’s father. The same year, the WTC license is up for renewal and is not renewed. Despite the loss of the WTC license, his father builds the race into a week-long festival with a rock concert.
2007 | His father dies from lung disease. The night before he passed, he told his son that to install thorough credibility he would have to complete a Challenge race. He went on to race Challenge Wanaka twice.
2012 | After losing Challenge Cairns in the WTC’s acquisition of USM Events in March, the Challenge Family announces Challenge Penticton in August, taking control of the site of the longtime classic Ironman Canada.