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No. 1 ranked Gwen Jorgensen and her coach Jamie Turner chat ahead of Saturday’s WTS Edmonton Grand Final, where she is a heavy favorite to grab her first world title.
American Gwen Jorgensen heads into Saturday’s ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Edmonton as the heavy favorite to not only take the win, but earn the title of overall world champion based on her dominant 2014 series’ performance. Earlier this week, Jorgensen and coach Jamie Turner took time to talk to media about a variety of topics including mental preparation for the big Edmonton race, their coach/athlete relationship and her recent dominance in the WTS.
Jorgensen on which WTS win this year was the toughest.
They’re never easy, I can tell you that. I think each race this year that I’ve won has been difficult in different ways. I think the one I was happiest with was my race in either Yokohama or London. I had really good swims, was in the front bike pack and then had an excellent run as well, so it’s nice when I’m able to execute on the swim, the bike and the run.
Jorgensen on what she’s improved at the most in 2014.
Since I’ve started working with Jamie Turner we’ve been working on my swim a lot. We worked on it all last year as well, but last year my swim was a little more inconsistent, and I think this year I’ve been more consistent. That has been an improvement that I’ve been happy with.
On if Jorgensen is “redefining” the way the women race with her strong run.
That’s a compliment to Gwen. Her competitors put a lot of pressure on her as well. When Gwen’s in good shape and she’s prepared well for the race, she’s been quite dominant this season on her run performance. Races like Hamburg were certainly a challenge. They came at a phase of training that meant Gwen probably wasn’t able to turn up on race day to deliver her best performance. That’s something we hope to do in Edmonton. The best is yet to come from Gwen as we build through the year.
As Jamie said, that would be a huge compliment, but when I go to race I just try to do the things that we’ve been working on and it’s not something I think about. I know if I make a mistake and give my competitors an inch then they’ll take a mile, and so I really try to execute on every discipline of the sport.
On the decision to skip WTS Stockholm last weekend.
The plan all year was to skip Stockholm if I had enough points going in. The series overall counts your best five races plus the final, and I had five good enough results to not have to do Stockholm. We decided to get another week of training in and focus on Edmonton.
I might add that the demands of our sport are two-fold. One, it’s important to be able to demonstrate performance on a major benchmark event—we’ve seen a lot of athletes from Commonwealth countries have to prepare for the Commonwealth Games—so it’s all well and good if you perform well in the series, but at the end of the day the holy grail is to demonstrate performance on one day in Rio. Obviously that’s what we’re working toward now. Bypassing Stockholm gave us the opportunity to race Hamburg, have a little bit of a break and then prepare for a longer period of time for Edmonton, which is more like the preparation Gwen will need leading up to both the Olympic qualification and the Olympics upon qualification.
Jorgensen on the recently-announced scholarship.
It was a joint idea between me and my fiancé Patrick. We wanted to find a way to give back to the sport and we were discussing ways of how we could do it. We talked to USA Triathlon, Jamie and some other people in the sport and thought this would be a good starting point. We’ve been overwhelmed with support from other sponsors. Right now we have $15,000 to award and it’s something we hope we can give back to the future generation of triathlon.
On the coach/athlete relationship between Jorgensen and Turner.
It’s been incredible to have this performance environment, where every day I’m training with my peers that I compete against. It’s nice to have those people to compare yourself against and push yourself. Someone’s always going to be having a good day, so you’re always going to have someone there that’s going to push you to be better.
I think Gwen came on board [before the 2013 season] with some new zest. She probably had a much greater understanding of what she needed to invest in and what was required from her daily. I’ve just been a catalyst for that. I think some of Gwen’s learning opportunities come from myself, some from her experiences, but a lot of them come from the osmosis of being in an environment that’s competitive daily. It’s my job to make sure we manage that highly competitive environment and we look after individuals within the group… Gwen wouldn’t be where she is now without her support from her fantastic fiancé Pat… When you come to the sport late as Gwen has done, you really need a strong support team.
Jorgensen on mentally preparing for a big race like Saturday’s Grand Final.
I think that’s where I’m lucky that I have such a great support crew. I’ve had some experience now. I had a race in San Diego in 2012 where there was a bit more media attention around me and I don’t think I handled it very well, and that was a great learning experience for me on what I should do and what I should focus on. At the end of the day it’s just another race and it’s what I train to do. I’m really excited to go out there and race. We’ve been training really hard all year and it’s exciting to be able to go out there and show everyone what we’ve been working on.
Jorgensen on the success of USA Triathlon at last weekend’s WTS Stockholm race.
It’s incredible. Watching that race was amazing. Everyone—Sarah Groff took the win and then Lindsey Jerdonek finished fifth, that was an incredible race for her, and Katie Hursey in the top-10 as well. Then on the men’s side Ben Kanute had what I’d call a breakthrough race at the WTS level [finishing 11th]. It was incredible to watch that for team USA. I think it shows how much support, time and energy USAT has been putting into their athletes, and on trying to improve and become competitive on the world level.
Jorgensen on her plans after Edmonton.
After this I fly home to St. Paul-Minnesota. The day we arrive is eight months to the day since we’ve been home, so it will be nice to back and get some quality time with family and friends and just be home. I’m going to take some time and relax. We’re getting married on Oct. 4. I’m really excited.