2008 Olympian and 2005 U23 World Champion continues rise among top triathletes
GOLD COAST, Australia (September 10, 2009) -- A win at the 2005 ITU U23 World Championship provided Jarrod Shoemaker with his first bit of exposure on the international stage, but it was a surprising performance in 2007 that thrust him onto the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and made people really take notice of this young triathlete's potential.
Shoemaker had a solid performance in Beijing, finishing as the second American, 18th overall, in his first Olympic Games. Now, the 27-year-old from Sudbury, Mass., has taken the next steps to ensure his meteoric rise continues. His 2009 season has included four top-10 performances in ITU World Championship Series races, including his first major international win in Hamburg, Germany.
Currently sitting in 7th place in the Series, Shoemaker is poised to finish on a strong note in the final event in Australia this weekend.
We had a chance to talk with him about his year, the progress he has made, and what he needs to focus on in order to maintain his place among the top in the U.S. and the world. He also shared with us his latest multisport foray into duathlon, as he gets set to compete in the 2009 ITU Duathlon World Championship in Concord, N.C., at the end of September.
What was your primary goal heading into 2009?
My coach, Tim Crowley, and I looked at 2009 as a year to gain experience racing against the best in the world after the tough Olympic year. We worked hard on improving my run this winter and on improving my swim threshold. Our goal always has been and always will be consistency.
Has the season met your expectations?
This season has exceeded our expectations. I have been extremely consistent with a 1st, two 6ths, an 8th, and a 12th in World Championship Series races and a 5th and 8th in World Cups. Other than the hypothermia and my knee issue in London the season has been a lot of fun.
Describe a little bit of your development this season?
One of the things that Tim and I have talked about for the past year is that to be the best you have to learn from the best and race with the best. That is why our goal this year was to race all the WCS races. In addition we have always believed that if I got myself in the position to win races I would do well; it was just a matter of being at the front of races.
What has been the biggest area of improvement?
I'd say that my biggest area of improvement was my swim threshold. I feel much better swimming at the end of the 1st lap and into the 2nd lap than I ever have before. This allows me to feel fresher on the bike and the run.
What has been the key to that improvement?
I think there have been two keys to improving. The first is that I have been working tirelessly on my biomechanics with my MAT (Muscle Activation Therapist) Pam Minix. It has been constant improvement and hard work since we started working together in April of 2008. The second has been swimming a bit less, but being smarter about how I swim those yards. My swim coach, Rich Axtell, and I have developed a plan for swimming that cuts out a lot of the long slow distance. I believe that swimming takes the most out of your training if you go too hard.
What are the areas you are still trying to tweak?
I am working hard on my bike right now and working hard to get faster on my run. These two go hand in hand... if you can bike harder and come off fresher on the run then you can run faster. I have only been biking for five years, so I feel like I am now learning a lot more about riding.
Describe the differences in how you tackled the run at Hy-Vee vs. Hamburg?
Hy-Vee was the second race when I was in a position to win. In Tongyeong I pushed the pace and got a side cramp while leading, so in Hy-Vee I didn't want to blow myself up again. Instead I took a conservative approach and decided to wait. After the race I realized it was the wrong move, and to win a race you have to make a move to win a race, you don't just end up winning. I took this philosophy with me over to Kitzbuhel (where I didn't get to use it) and then into Hamburg. In Hamburg I was running as hard as I could and the rest of the athletes could do what they wanted.
How did that Hy-Vee result motivate you?
I think the motivation was that to win a race you have to try and win a race... you have to put yourself in a position to win.
Describe the feeling of winning in Hamburg and what that does for your confidence?
I'm not sure that it gave me any more confidence. I have felt for a few years that if I was in the right position I could win a big race, but I was not able to put myself in that position. Now I know I can run with those guys and I know that I can win a race. Overall, though, I am just excited to have won a race.
What are your thoughts as you head off to Australia?
I am excited to race against the best athletes in the world. It should be a challenging course and a fun atmosphere.
What will you need to do to produce a performance that will challenge Brownlee and the other top athletes?
I'm not sure that I need much other than to believe in myself and just go for it. As long as I swim hard and feel strong on the bike I feel like I have a shot at doing well.
Have you enjoyed the new WCS format?
I have enjoyed the new format. I like having fewer races with more competitive fields. The only real problem is that most of the races are in Europe and it's hard for us Americans to fly over and back when almost everybody else is already in Europe.
Do you think it's a good way to select the World Champion?
I think it is a good way to select the best racer for the year. I would still love a World Champion from a single day race and to be honest this race to me is World Championships; it's a step above the other races, the age groupers are here and we really are racing for national pride.
Have you noticed a different intensity at these races compared to world cups of previous years?
It's funny, but I think people have been a bit more relaxed this year. Maybe it's the post Olympic year, or maybe we all just know and like each other, but it's not as intense. I think everybody is in amazing shape right now though, and it will be interesting to see where everything goes from here over the next three years till London!
Why did you decide to enter Duathlon Worlds?
Tim and I decided that Duathlon Worlds would be fun to do since it is a home race and I have been running well. Anytime you can race within a 1:30 hour flight it's a treat.
Have you done many duathlons?
I have done one duathlon in my career. It was the start of 2006 I believe and it was painful, but I love to run so it should be fun. Oh, and Treasure Island 2007 was a duathlon, and I was second to Hunter in that race.
Do you think duathlon fits your strengths?
I think my strength is my strength, and I think that is what duathlon is about. It's about running relaxed and fast over the first 10k and then being able to conserve energy, but bike fast, then run hard again. Whew, sounds tiring!
What is the biggest challenge you will have to overcome in racing duathlon?
I'm not sure I will have a big challenge, but I plan on having fun and enjoying the experience.
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the national governing body for triathlon - the fastest growing sport in the U.S. - as well as duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. USAT sanctions 2,500 races and connects with more than 125,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USAT provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Championships, Pan American Games, and the Olympic Games.