ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – The winter triathlon was made for Alaskans and Alaskans: Fat bikes essentially originated in the 49th state, producing a number of world-class skiers and athletes who can race on almost any terrain. (looking at you, Mount Marathon).
With this combination, the results of the 2023 Tri-Flake USA Winter Triathlon National Championships should not have come as a surprise.
For the seventh year and third in a row at Kincaid Park in Alaska, the nation’s top winter triathletes came together Saturday to compete in a ticketed 6K run, 8-mile fat bike ride and 6K ski race. for the World Championship on the line.
While this is the national championships for the sport of winter triathlon, the field is open to those competing in their first winter triathlon, to those who have seen a thing or two in the sport, like 74-year-old John Pierce of Kansas City. years. , Missouri.
“I’m the oldest here, I’ve been doing this since 1984,” said Pierce, who joked that he has competed in 300 winter triathlons. ”I love coming to Anchorage… It’s so beautiful. I’ve done this in Montana, Minnesota, California and Utah, but coming here is special.”
The event also features the best winter triathletes in the nation and that was on display in Saturday’s race.
Anchorage’s Eric Flanders, a competitive cyclist, used his incredible time on the bike to defend his 2022 title and repeat as the Men’s USA Triathlon National Champion with a total time of 1 hour, 18 minutes, 55 seconds.
“You never know who’s here, I specifically didn’t look at the start list this year, I just didn’t want to know. I didn’t wear my watch this year either, I just wanted to go out there and push myself,” Flanders said. “…I knew if I could be within a couple of minutes in the race on the fastest guy, I knew I could probably put a couple of minutes into him on the first lap on the bike and go from there.”
While Flanders finished nearly two minutes ahead of second place Cody Priest, it was a picture finish in the women’s race between two Anchorage competitors.
Jordan Pruszenski, a former Service High skier who now lives in Fairbanks, edged out Jessica Vetsch by 0.19 seconds as Pruszenski clocked 1:34:12 to claim the women’s national championship.
“We went back and forth a couple of times, and then going into this, the roller coaster, I just got over it and managed to stay ahead of here. She really went down that last hill and screeched through it, it was a great race, she’s so fast,” said Pruszenski, who won the 2018 Winter Triathlon National Championships before taking a break until this year.
“It’s fun, I grew up on these trails, so it’s fun to go back and just race against all these great ladies and be there and hear everyone say, ‘Great job! good job!’ On the road, it’s so much fun.”
With Kincaid hosting this event for the third year in a row, the venue will likely see this race again in the future.
”Anchorage in general is just a great city of winter activity. Kincaid Park is one of the best places I have ever seen for something like this we have multi use trail facilities for the running and biking courses we have world class ski trails for the ski course its so hard to beat we have here,” said race director Jason Lamoreaux. “…I think this is just a quintessential Alaskan sport, I mean snow biking originated here…Nordic skiing is obviously a great Alaskan sport, we’ve had so many Olympic and Cup skiers World that have come from here. …so just mixing these sports together in one event is definitely a perfect Alaskan event.”
Full results for the Tri-Flake Winter Triathlon can be found on the event website. Those who qualified will compete at the 2023 Winter Triathlon World Championships in Skeikampen, Norway, from March 23-26.
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