On his own, Kloser goes back-to-back
Vail, CO Colorado
BEND, Ore. ” All of Mike Kloser’s wins ” of which there are too many to list ” mean something to him.
This one may have a special spot on the halls of Kloserdom, however.
On Saturday in Bend, Ore., Kloser won his second straight USA Triathlon Winter National Championship.
Kloser, 48, of Vail, finished the race in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 43 seconds, edging Brian Smith, 32, of Gunnison, by 44 seconds.
“It’s awesome to pull off a repeat victory ” it’s a legitimate national title, and there was a lot of talent there,” Kloser said. “As you get older, you aren’t known for your speed in short distances. I look at this as a huge feather in the cap, being able to race and win individually at a national-caliber event.”
After establishing himself as one of the top mountain bikers in the world and excelling in multiple other endurance sports, Kloser moved into the world of adventure racing, where he’s won every race under the sun as captain of Team Nike.
“This makes a statement for me as an individual event and not just a team event,” Kloser said. “As you get older, people want to write you off and say, ‘He’s beatable because he’s 48 and I’m 24, and I’m just as talented.’ But it comes down to who is best on that day.”
On Saturday, Kloser left no doubt as to who was the best. After the first leg, a six-kilometer run, Kloser trailed then-leader Smith by almost two minutes. But by the end of the 10K biking portion, Kloser was only seconds behind Smith, with only one other competitor remotely close.
“I just had to bide my time, and my strategy was that it’s not a one-event race, it’s a triathlon,” Kloser said. “It’s not who’s the fastest off the start; it’s who’s the first across the finish line.”
For most of the first lap of the 6K cross-country-ski leg, Kloser drafted Smith.
“I caught Brian on a straightaway and kind of pulled away going at a steady pace and figured it was the time to make the move,” Kloser said.
Once Kloser took the lead, there was no looking back.
“I could have gone harder on the first lap for skiing, but I figured there was no sense,” Kloser said. “If I’m with the leader and I’m going at a pace I’m comfortable with and can respond to an attack, then I’m fine.”
Later on, Kloser found out how hard he was going comparatively.
“When I made my move around Brian, he said (after the race) that he was dry heaving trying to keep up with me,” Kloser said.
After arriving home at 1 a.m. Sunday, Kloser grabbed some shut-eye and then headed to a Beaver Creek Snowshoe Adventure Series race, where he placed fifth in the 10K division, about 21⁄2 minutes off the winning mark.
“I wasn’t sore, just a little lethargic,” Kloser said. “I was pretty pleased with the result considering there were tough competitors in front of me.”
Kloser will head to Germany for the 2008 Winter Triathlon World Championships in two weeks.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.