Gunnison athletes dominate Winter Triathlon Nationals

Smith and Dussault qualify for worlds

Brian Smith and Rebecca Dussault teamed up to take the men’s and women’s titles at the 2009 USAT Winter Triathlon National Championships in Bend, Oregon on Sunday, January 11.



As I said, it was a team effort by the two individuals from the Gunnison Valley. While Dussault, an Olympic Nordic skier, fine-tuned Smith’s ski gear, i.e. waxing, Smith, a seasoned winter tri competitor, offered some key advice to Dussault prior to the race.
“Brian’s advice was to drink a Red Bull right before the race,” says Dussault. “I did and I felt awesome.”
The winter triathlon national course involves an opening four-kilometer run on snow, followed by an eight-kilometer biking section on snow, ending with a nine-kilometer Nordic ski.
It was Smith’s third time competing at the national championships but it was his first win.
“Third time’s a charm,” says Smith. “Mike Kloser has been in my way every year except this year.”
Smith opened the race posting the fastest run split, to build a one-minute lead on second place by the transition to mountain biking.
Smith held his lead on his bike for most of the eight kilometers, but the packed course allowed world-class mountain bike racer Carl Decker to catch Smith by the final transition.
“The bike course got better as the race went on,” explains Smith. “A lot of times it gets so soft you have to walk a lot but we had single track.”
The course left the final transition and sent the competitors on a downhill immediately before turning onto a flat section.
Decker stacked on the downhill and Smith took the lead for good, holding off Kloser in the end for the win, finishing the course in a time of 59 minutes and three seconds.
 “The last two years, Kloser’s passed me on skis,” says Smith. “I’m finally starting to get a full package in the winter triathlon.”
It was Dussault’s first time at the nationals, although she took sixth place at the winter triathlon worlds last year in Germany.
Dussault says while she was looking for the win heading in, she was unsure of what to expect from her competitors.
“I was confident for sure going in but I was definitely nervous,” says Dussault. “But, that’s how I operate.”
Dussault made quick work of the women’s field, pulling away after the first kilometer of running and never looking back.
Once Dussault had built an insurmountable lead on the women’s field, she started taking on the men’s competitors.
“It’s hard to keep pushing with no one near you, so I thought I better just start racing the guys,” says Dussault.
Dussault finished the course in a time of one hour, five minutes and 39 seconds for the win, seventh place among all racers.
“It just got better and better,” says Dussault.
Both Smith and Dussault received a $1,000 check for the win and qualified to represent the United States at the 2009 ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships in Gaishorn, Austria in February, with a $1,000 stipend to help pay the way.

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