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When One Second Means Second Place
That old cliché “nobody remembers who came in second” doesn’t apply to Josiah Middaugh and his remarkable runner-up performance at the XTERRA Winter World Championship in Utah last year.
On the contrary, Josiah’s near-victory at Snowbasin Resort is arguably the most memorable, gut-wrenching second place finish in the history of XTERRA, and thanks to YouTube, XTERRA.TV and the nationally syndicated TV broadcast of the race – millions of Americans have seen and shared in his agony.
Flashback to March 8, 2008 - After nearly two hours of grueling racing action that included mountain biking, snowshoeing, running and ski mountaineering in snow flurries at 6,000+ feet elevation, Middaugh was just about to capture the first-ever XTERRA Winter World Title. Just 200 yards of downhill skiing through eight slalom gates – all viewable from the main plaza at Snowbasin - remained.
He comes into sight of the spectators and falls rounding the first gate. At this point all he needs to do is stay upright and the race is his. He picks himself up and slowly rounds the next two gates only to fall on his back again, this time sliding down the hill. As he gets up and going again Brian Smith, fueled by years of alpine racing, the right skis, and a natural competitive fire, emerges from the tree line like a man possessed. Seconds later and with just two gates to go Smith zooms past Middaugh on the inside and speeds across the finish line arms raised high.
The margin of victory … 1.3 seconds.
“I just couldn’t get down the hill on those skate skis,” said Middaugh after the race.
“If it wasn’t about equipment, Josiah would’ve blown away the whole field,” said the champ, Brian Smith (who also recently won the USAT Winter Tri Nationals in Oregon).
The difference – Smith was on a brand new randonnee ski set-up suited for the demanding climbs and descents of the ski mountaineering course. Middaugh, on the other hand, was on Nordic skis (aka skate skis) and “just couldn’t keep it together” coming down the hill covered in fresh powder.
One of the many spectators standing there watching the drama unfold was Dave Goode, a former U.S. Ski Team member and founder of Ogden-based Goode Ski Technologies. Goode was so moved by the scene; he introduced himself to Middaugh then proceeded to set him up with carbon fiber randonnee race skis.
“He saw the finish of the race last year and told me that I was on the wrong equipment,” said Middaugh, one of the most decorated winter athletes in the U.S. “He was probably trying not to laugh, but that was very generous of him to give me the skis, and I’m psyched to race in them this year.”
The women’s race played out the same way with Olympic skier Rebecca Dussault on heavier Telemark skis getting chased down by adventure racing phenom Sari Anderson who was using the same “rando rig” that Smith was on.
“I won’t be racing on tele skis this time,” said Dussault. “They're the reason I lost last year."
So, there you have it, if you’re in it to win it - you best be on some form of alpine touring or randonnee skis. As for other advice Middaugh and Dussault are dishing out to first-time competitors in XTERRA Winter Worlds:
“Get your equipment in order and practice on it,” said Middaugh. “For the bike get fat tires and experiment with low air pressure. For the ski, practice at a ski resort. Get your transitions down, especially on the ski, and have fun.”
“This race definitely is heavy on the running and favors a fit runner for half the course,” said Dussault, the 2009 USAT Winter Tri National Champ. “Plan on a haul of a race. Physically this race is super demanding and someone may not realize to what degree until they start ascending the ski area. It's gonna take all you have … or eat you alive.”
CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL NAMED OFFICIAL HOTEL PARTNER OF XTERRA AMERICA EVENTS
TEAM Unlimited, owners and producers of the XTERRA America Tour off-road triathlon and trail running race series, have partnered with Choice Hotels International to provide athletes with clean and comfortable places to stay at great rates.
In 2009 XTERRA will host more than 100 races in the continental U.S. and everywhere XTERRA roams athletes are sure to find a Choice Hotel nearby. As the Official Hotel Partner of XTERRA on the U.S. mainland, Choice Hotels will provide XTERRA racers, friends, and family with a discount at participating hotels.
“We believe in the amateur athlete and are excited to provide great travel experiences for XTERRA competitors this year,” said Donald Crawford, the Director of Sports Marketing for Choice Hotels.
Choice Hotels has more than 5,700 Comfort Inn®, Comfort Suites®, Quality Inn®, Sleep Inn®, Clarion®, MainStay Suites®, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel®, Econo Lodge®, and Rodeway Inn® brand hotels worldwide.
“XTERRA athletes travel hundreds and in many cases thousands of miles to compete, and providing them with consistent value at Choice Hotels throughout the U.S. and overseas is a great benefit,” said TEAM Unlimited President Janet Clark.
To receive the special XTERRA rate athletes simply need to call the Choice Sports Desk at 877.240.AWAY (2929) or visit choicesportstravel.com and provide the XTERRA Discount Code. For more details and information about the partnership, visit www.xterraplanet.com.
A NEW SPIRIT BEHIND XTERRA FITNESS LINE
Spirit Fitness, manufacturer of cardiovascular fitness equipment, has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement to manufacture and distribute a line of fitness equipment under the “XTERRA Fitness” brand. The new XTERRA Fitness line will be composed of an array of treadmills, elliptical trainers and stationary bikes.
Spirit Fitness has been the premier developer and manufacturer of the quality cardiovascular exercise equipment to retail home market for over twenty years. The existing product line under the Spirit & Esprit brands includes treadmills, elliptical trainers and exercise bikes and is currently sold at specialty fitness, select sporting goods stores and internet retailers. Spirit maintains state of the art manufacturing facilities through their parent company, Dyaco International in Taiwan. Dyaco has evolved into one of the world’s most respected and premier leaders in the design, manufacture and distribution of home-use and light commercial fitness equipment in the world.
“Spirit Fitness recognizes the unique market that the XTERRA brand will attract” say Todd Udowitch, Vice President of Sales for Spirit Fitness. XTERRA represents a young, aggressive and athletic minded market with demographics that are aligned with consumers buying fitness equipment today” Udowitch added.
This joint venture between Spirit and XTERRA is positioned to emphasize a “premier brand” that is partnered with many selling channels which will include big box retailers, sporting goods and internet retailer websites.
HEATHER - A FUHROCIOUS TRAIL RUNNER
Triathlon legend Heather Fuhr is starting to build a reputation as a "trail running legend" having recently won the XTERRA Mission Gorge 15km Trail Run for the second straight year.
Fuhr won the demanding race in 1:11:40, nearly five full minutes in front of 2008 XTERRA SoCal Regional Champion, Beth Gerdes. Paula Newby-Fraser was third in 1:20:33.
Brandon Dugan, a 19-year old from Rancho Cucamonga, won the men’s race in 1:04:45.
For more info visit www.xterratrailrun.com
MEXICO JOINS WORLD TOUR
The XTERRA Mexico Championship is the latest addition to the 2009 XTERRA World Tour and is tentatively scheduled for September 6th in Valle de Bravo, a beautiful small town roughly two hours southwest of Mexico City. Among the organizers for the new event is Javier Rosas – who represented Mexico in the 2004 Olympic triathlon event. The championship will provide XTERRA World Championship qualifying spots for amateurs and $15,000 in prize money for pros.
“We are very excited to bring XTERRA to Mexico,” said event director Juan Carlos Vazquez. “Athletes will certainly enjoy not just the challenge of this race, but its beauty. Located on the shore of Lake Avandaro, Valle de Bravo is one of the most breathtaking locations in all of Mexico.”
SNRGY XTERRA CAMP
Professional XTERRA Athletes Brian and Jenny Smith are teaming up with professional swim coaches and Olympic Trials swimmers Trever and Brandyn Gray to produce a three-day swim, bike, run clinic March 13-15 in Farmington, NM.
The camp costs $295 for access to all coaches and a beautiful 50 meter aquatic facility. Located in the high desert in Farmington, New Mexico, the mountain bike and running trails are open, and it's a great opportunity to get some high altitude training in!
XTERRA star Melanie McQuaid was named the "GU Off-Road Triathlete of the Year" at the Competitor Endurance Sports Award last weekend in San Diego. It's the second time in three years McQuaid has been honored as being the sports best. In 2008 McQuaid won the XTERRA West, East, Mountain, and USA Championship races along with XTERRA U.S. Pro Series crown.
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