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Q&A with Daniela Ryf: Returning to the U.S., Finishing Her Degree, and Missing Races

The many time World Champ answers some quick questions ahead of her races in St. George and Tulsa next month.

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Last month, the legend and nine-time world champion Daniela Ryf returned to racing with a win at Dubai 70.3. It was her first race since a disappointing 13th place finish at Kona in fall 2019. She then announced she would be making a rare trip over to the U.S. to race, competing in the North American 70.3 and Ironman championships at St. George, Utah next weekend and then in Tulsa, Oklahoma later in May.

She answered a few quick questions about what she’s been doing the last year—studying, training, a lot of cross-country skiing—and what her plans are for her American trip and for the rest of the year.

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Triathlete: What did you focus on during 2020? You did a lot of cross-training, did you maintain a full training load during the year even without races or did you take breaks? (Did you focus on non-triathlon stuff?)

Daniela: Even without competitions, I maintained a fairly regular and intense training schedule and was able to lay a good foundation for this year, hopefully. On the side, I took advantage of the extra time available and complete my bachelor’s degree in food technology, which helped me find a great balance.

Triathlete: What was the hardest part of COVID and 2020?

Daniela: Good question. I must admit that it initially felt quite good to no longer chase appointments. And I was highly motivated to train. But over time, things became more difficult as one event after the other got cancelled. That’s when my studies turned out to be quite helpful

Triathlete: We didn’t see you race from Kona 2019 to Dubai this spring. Why decide not to race? Did you feel rusty at your first one back? What things took you by surprise after that long not racing?

Daniela: That wasn’t really a deliberate decision on my part, there simply weren’t any competitions around expect Daytona, which I didn’t do cause I was still coming back after my foot injury. That’s why I was excited to finally get back into racing in spring. Dubai felt great.

Triathlete: Why come over to the U.S. for a long block? What are your plans between St. George and Tulsa?

Daniela: Competitions are still few and far in between, so I am happy to get a crack at two races here. In between, I will train in Sedona to discover some new beautiful places on Earth that I haven’t seen before. I heard the trail running is amazing there.

Triathlete: What are your plans for the rest of this year?

Daniela: I am hoping to race a lot, but haven’t really looked to far down the road. It’s likely that many races will have to be postponed into the fall again. So it’s about keeping in the work, not overdoing it, and staying flexible to be ready when the races will happen in the end of year.

Triathlete: Will racing be more competitive this year after a break (it looks like every race is going to be very stacked), or not?

Daniela: Yes, that’s what I am expecting. With fewer opportunities to compete, everyone will be looking to enter. But that makes racing even more fun, as I enjoy the challenge and facing the best.

Triathlete: What did you miss the most about triathlon during this past year?

Daniela: The excitement of the races.