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With three World Triathlon Series wins this year in San Diego, Yokohama and most recently Stockholm, American Gwen Jorgensen leads the series rankings heading into this weekend’s 2013 ITU World Triathlon London Grand Final. But with only 13 points separating Jorgensen from Germany’s Anne Haug and Great Britain’s Non Stanford, Saturday should prove to be an exciting race. We caught up with Jorgensen before her bid to take the 2013 World Championship title.
Triathlete.com: Part of your win in Stockholm was due to an impressive swim, something you’ve been working on a lot this year. What has been the key to your swim training with Coach Jamie Turner?
Jorgensen: Jamie is focused on technique, so we work on technique daily. We also have been spending more time in the pool. I know it sounds basic, but spending more time in the pool leads to improvement, which means double swims are not uncommon. I still have work to do on the swim, and we are continuing to try to make my swim and bike better.
Triathlete.com: How do you maintain the balance of staying strong on the run with wanting to improve on the swim and bike?
Jorgensen: It’s a continued work in progress. It’s not an exact science. I did a big cycling block for Kitzbühel and it affected my swim/run. Jamie and I are still trying to figure out what works best.
Triathlete.com: You’ve been living and training in Vitoria, in the Basque region of Spain, for the past few months—how has your time there affected your training?
Jorgensen: Training in Europe has proven beneficial for me. Not only is Vitoria a place that provides a daily training environment, but it is also in the same time zone as most of the WTS races. In previous years, I came to Europe for short amounts of time. I was always at a camp, and never felt like I was settled. Now, I have a place in Europe I call home (Vitoria). It helps that [boyfriend] Pat is with me—we always say wherever we are is home.
When we were packing up all our belongings to fly from Vitoria to London I was sad to be leaving. I will miss the training, my training partners, riding, pintxos (Basque tapas), my apartment, the low cost of living, adventures from not knowing the language…but it helps to know we will likely return next year.
Triathlete.com: You’re in an amazingly close battle for the world title with Anne Haug and Non Stanford. What has it been like competing against those two all year?
Jorgensen: Anne and Non are incredible competitors who push me. We have all won a WTS this year, however, I think each one of us has won differently due to our own strengths. It will be fun to go up against those two in the Grand Final. Anne won the Grand Final last year, and Non won the U23 Grand Final last year—I know they will make it tough out there on Saturday!
Triathlete.com: You’ve got some American triathlon fans excited about ITU racing for the first time in awhile. Do you think it’s important to grow awareness of the sport in the United States?
Jorgensen: Absolutely. I’m excited about the growth of the sport. My passion is ITU racing and it’s a format I want everyone to be familiar with. I think almost every American knows what the Ironman is, and I want everyone to know what a WTS race is as well. When I was in the Basque region, I did a citizen draft-legal race. I loved it and hope to see similar races in the USA.
Triathlete.com: You had one of your most exciting performances (2011) and one of your most disappointing performances (2012 Olympics) on the London course. How does it feel to be returning this year?
Jorgensen: I owe a lot to the London course. In 2011, it put me on the map and, in my eyes, is what really started my career in triathlon. A year later, the London race was humbling; it forced me to look at triathlon in a completely new light. I sat down with those closest to me and researched coaches. I had seen Jamie Turner coach, and was familiar with his coaching style. I liked what I saw and decided to make some major investments. I decided to live abroad for the majority of the year (which means nine months on the road). I made triathlon my only job and dove in whole-heartedly in hopes of winning gold in Rio. I love doing triathlon, and I’m excited about the investments we are making.
Triathlete.com: Looking ahead, how do you plan to keep this momentum up over the next couple of years and into Rio?
Jorgensen: Jamie and I are going to continue to focus on my swim and bike. I want to be a “triple threat.” We are continuing to look at the long-term goals and how the sport is changing. The big players in the sport may change in the upcoming years, and we need to be ready for anything.
Triathlete.com: What do you think of the choice of Chicago as a WTS stop for next year and as the Grand Final in 2015?
Jorgensen: I am extremely excited to have a Grand Final in the USA. I hope it will continue to build the awareness of ITU draft-legal triathlon in America. Chicago is about an hour away from where I grew up, so I’m excited to be able to show all those who support me exactly what I do. I’m away for nine or more months a year, and to be able to race a few hours away from where I call home will be an incredible experience. Racing on American soil earlier this year in San Diego was incredible. The atmosphere with the fans was something I will never forget.