Closes rookie season with top-five finishes
Gunnison Valley athletes Jenny and Brian Smith and Rebecca Dussault closed the 2009 Xterra off-road triathlon regional cup racing circuit with the Mountain Cup in Beaver Creek on Saturday, July 18.
The course featured more than 4,000 feet of climbing and combined a one-mile swim in Avon’s Nottingham Lake with a 16-mile mountain bike and six-mile trail run.
“It was the most demanding course of the cup series races,” says Brian. “It was long and climby.”
Furthermore, the field was jam-packed with some of the top off-road Xterra athletes in the world.
“The Beaver Creek raced was stacked,” says Dussault. “The biggest pro field of the year.”
“It’s one of the top two events in the states,” adds Jenny. “It’s really good to have that competition there.”
For Brian the race came down to an uncharacteristically mediocre bike section.
“I didn’t have that spark,” says Brian. “It’s my bread and butter.”
Brian switched onto the run and battled through a cramp the first part of the course before finding his rhythm and picking off two competitors to post the second-fastest run split of the field and take sixth place overall.
“At the end I was charging,” says Brian. “It made this year’s race a little bit better.”
Jenny’s race was tough from start to finish.
“I just didn’t have a good day,” says Jenny. “I just wasn’t feeling the love.”
Jenny admits after the first 200 meters of the bike portion she was thinking of dropping out but pedaled through the tough part to rally.
“I pulled the bike together to get into fourth place,” says Jenny.
But her struggle continued on the run. Despite her efforts, Jenny lost two spots during the run and couldn’t pull them back in finishing in seventh place by the end.
“I was trying, I just wasn’t going very fast,” says Jenny. “It wasn’t working at all.”
Dussault was psyched with her fifth-place finish in Beaver Creek.
It’s Dussault’s first full season on the summer Xterra triathlon circuit and follows an impressive winter triathlon season winning the Xterra Winter World Championships and taking the bronze medal at the ITU Winter Triathlon world championships.
“Through the winter triathlon I realized if you’re good at two of the three, you can do really well,” says Dussault.
Dussault’s interest in the summer events began by watching her mom, Carol Quinn, compete, as well as Brian and Jenny Smith. Dussault then tested the Xterra triathlon waters, competing in two events last summer and decided this summer to go full bore.
“I kind of got a taste for it,” says Dussault.
Dussault suffered a couple of setbacks in her first three races of the summer with the onset of blisters, flat tires and a wrong turn, but has since been on fire with a fourth-place finish two weeks ago at the South Central Cup in Little Rock, Ark. and a fifth-place finish at the Mountain Cup.
“I literally learned so much each race weekend,” says Dussault. “To even have an iota of a chance you have to have a perfect race. I’m really glad to be top-five.”
With her last two results, Dussault shot up into seventh place in the final overall points series standings.
All three athletes now have a long “break” until they head to the Xterra U.S. national championships in Ogden, Utah on September 26.
Jenny and Brian will spend the months leading up to the national championships on the international Xterra circuit. Brian is going to Brazil to compete in August on the global Xterra circuit, mixing in the occasional Pinnacle race while in the valley as well as some additional mountain bike races.
“I really need to go and dig hard,” says Brian. “I don’t think I’ve hurt myself yet.”
Jenny goes to Europe to race in Germany and Austria.
I’ve always wanted to go do the European Xterra races,” says Jenny. “It’s something different. It’s going to be really fun to mix it up.”
Meanwhile, Dussault will commence her bid for the U.S. Olympic Nordic team headed to the 2010 winter games.
“I’ve got to get on the roller skis,” says Dussault. “I look forward to starting that again.”