After nine months abroad, Gwen Jorgensen returned to the United States this week, ready to defend her world title and compete in front of a home crowd.
“Last year I came off the bike almost a minute or more off the leaders, so I had that gap to close,” Jorgensen said at a media breakfast Wednesday. “I really used the crowd to motivate me and get me across the finish line. It was really exciting. This year hopefully I won’t have a big gap to have to close off the bike but I know the fans will definitely push me to the finish line.”
Having competed in last year’s ITU World Triathlon Chicago, Jorgensen said she feels ready to handle the excitement and enthusiasm that surrounds the week’s events.
“I came here last year and to be honest it was a little overwhelming,” Jorgensen said. “I put a lot of stress on myself. I felt like all these people that had never seen me race before, sponsors, there was a lot of media, age groupers, people that wanted to take pictures and I didn’t really know what to expect. This year it’s exciting to come here with it being as well the Age Group World Championships. There’s all these people with a Team USA kit on and I may not know many of them but we’re all here for the same reason and we’ve all put in the work. It’s exciting to share that camaraderie.”
Jorgensen, the current leader in the ITU World Triathlon Series Rankings, has won all six ITU World Triathlon races she has entered this year, with her most recent victory coming at ITU World Triathlon Hamburg in July, where she defeated Vicky Holland of Great Britain by five seconds, bolstered by a blistering 15:45 run. In addition to competing around the world, Jorgensen also spent time earlier this year training in Australia and Spain, where she had the opportunity to train at altitude, practice beach starts—particularly relevant for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio, where the triathlon will feature a beach start—and use varying terrain to help assist her training.
Fellow Americans Katie Zaferes and Sarah True round out the current top three in the ITU World Triathlon Series Rankings, with Zaferes only trailing Jorgensen by 300 points. Since the ITU World Triathlon Series Rankings began in 2009, no one country has swept the final podium in neither men’s nor women’s competition.
“We want to do well, we want to compete and we want to be the best in the world, and I think that gets us there,” Jorgensen said of the current U.S. success. “There’s different avenues [for training]. Katie and Sarah and I are all in daily performance environments in an international group. We’ve all invested in our triathlon career. There’s other U.S. athletes…in a U.S.-only training group, and other athletes who are singular coached. You see the U.S. as really performing and I think it’s because everyone’s investing in their own career and figuring out what they need to perform.”
After the season concludes this weekend with the end of the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago, Jorgensen will return home to St. Paul and enjoy some downtime before training begins again next year. Jorgensen said she’ll take four weeks off, with two weeks completely off and two weeks with no more than 20 minutes of activity per day.
“Normally [I take] the break a little bit later when the weather’s bad, so maybe I’ll do some cross-country skiing, or something different to mix it up,” Jorgensen said. “Definitely when I’m home during the winter months, it’s more mountain biking, cyclocross, things like that.”
Jorgensen will compete in Chicago at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final — Elite Women, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 at Grant Park. For complete information on this week’s events, visit chicago.triathlon.org.