Meet Mr. Nielsen
Every year an amateur or group of amateur racers rise to the top and put up times and efforts that are right there among the elites, and then they go pro. The benchmark for turning pro has always been winning XTERRA's amateur national championship first. Past XTERRA age group national champs that have gone on to pro careers include Jari Kirkland (2001, 02), Matt Boobar (several), Josiah Middaugh (2002), Shae Rainer (2003), Lisa Isom (2003), Greg Krause (2003), Taylor Tolleson (2003, 04), Jim Vance (2004), Amber Monforte (2005), Craig Evans (2005), Ryan DeCook (2005), Andrew Biglow (2005), Cody Waite (2006), Damian Gonzalez (2007), Jeff Smith (2007), Emma Garrard (2007), and Erin Kummer (2008) among others. The one's in bold were overall amateur champs.
This year there is a wealth of talent in the age group ranks, and one guy in particular that looks like he could be the amateur-to-beat at the USA championship, Kristoffer Nielsen.
The 31-year-old entrepreneur won four races this year including the incredibly competitive XTERRA East Cup in Richmond and the Northeast Cup at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont. XTERRA caught up with Kris as he was driving nearly 31 hours across the country from his home in North Haverhill, New Hampshire to his training grounds in Boulder, Colorado (a month before the race mind you) to prepare for nationals...
How did you first hear about XTERRA?
I spent most of my 20s Adventure Racing— around 2004 I first heard of XTERRA by reading about it in AdventureSports Magazine (that was such a cool mag).
How important is it to win Nationals?
Nationals is the LAST STAND for me this year. I unfortunately can't afford to get to Maui this year, a race that's arguably more suited for me than Snowbasin, but Nationals is where I'm putting all my chips down. I'm very fortunate to be a business owner and be able to work remotely. Because of this I'm training and preparing in Boulder, CO for the 4-weeks leading up to the race. This race is about as important as any race could be for me. I want to be competitive and it is my desire to be the first Amateur to cross the line. I think with some smart, focused training and if I can manage to put together a good race, coming out on top of the amateur ranks is very realistic for me. I want to end my season on a good note— with a BANG if at all possible :o) I'm doing everything within my means to make this happen.
If you win, do you go pro?
I've been getting that question a lot lately, and I'm so honored to at all be in a position where this question is being asked of me. My overall goal is to reach my absolute potential as an XTERRA athlete— to be the fittest I can be and race as competitively as my genes and desire will allow for. With this in mind it is the racing well that motivates and matters to me, not stature. I do believe racing as a pro would allow me to be more competitive. Starting first in a smaller swim pack, getting to the singletrack in front of the masses, and having faster wheels to hold in the opening kilometers will all undoubtably up my race game. If I race well at Nationals and if given opportunity to race as a pro for next year then I will take my two month break and give it some serious thought. Either way I'm eager to put my plan together for a bigger and better 2010 season!
Name 5 guys you know who will give you a run for your money?
There are others, but these are the guys on the start list I know are fast...
- Jason Michalak
- Fred Smith
- Jamey Yanik
- Rickey Tolliver
- Jason Jablonski
What’s a typical workday like in the Nielsen household?
Wake up, gather bags and clothes for workouts, breakfast, wrangle up Loki(dog) into the car. Erin, Loki and I drive 45mins south to the pool, swim, drop Erin off 5mins away at work, Loki and I drive 10mins south again to my office in Lebanon, NH. Work a full day, then Loki and I pick up Erin at work and we either do our evening workout in the Lebanon area or drive the 45min back north to the house and do our workouts there. Both locations offer awesome training. Finish workouts and regroup at the house around 8-8:30, shower, make dinner. Eat around 9-9:30 pretend to watch TV while in a half comma. bed. Wake up and do it all over again. Love it— weekends are met with a smile though.
And a typical weekend?
Sleep late, large crepe breakfast with berries picked from our property to fuel a weekend of training. We generally do our loner, easier workouts on the weekends. Many times with friends and Kingdom Trails— a MTB mecca with over 125miles of MTB trails to light your hair on fire. We catch up on TV that we've recorded all week long— sometimes not. See family if there's time.
What’s your favorite part about XTERRA?
The speed. Sounds cheesy but after racing AR on a team of athletes for so many years, racing by myself as fast as I can is just an awesome feeling. The people— XTERRA is truly a unique community of people. Also, I think for the most part the races are produced really well. Going to a Cup race is just an awesome experience. The courses are always different and NEVER boring.
Will altitude be a problem?
I hope not— that's why I'm here in Boulder. I don't think I'll have a chance against the top guys from who live at altitude if I'm not acclimated. We shall see.
Best XTERRA finish:
So far the best race I've put together was XTERRA Stoaked this year, despite breaking my chain and running my bike the last couple of km of the bike.
Art Institute of Boston: Sadly no running program.
I left college early for several reasons and got started on a career that now is one of my life's most proud accomplishments.
Do you have a regular job outside of racing?
I am the owner and principal of a web production and advertising company I started in 2004. I'm proud to have created jobs for a handful of fellow NH residents and together we work serving clients throughout the US.
Tell us something we should know about you:
I'm a self-motivating go-getter. I think Sport is one of life's best offerings. I have an obsession with Nutella. I'm one of the luckiest people on Earth.
Also of note, "Stoff" is part of Mel's Rad Racing Team, his wife Erin is fast too, and he's got a website you can visit for more details.