2008 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team Quotes from Saturday Press Conference

08/17/2008 - 07:01

August 17, 2008 from press release (BEIJING CHINA) Julie Ertel (Irvine CA/Placantia CA) On the Olympics experience: The Olympics are an opportunity to highlight our sport to people who might not otherwise watch it. It's a huge sense of pride. There are only a few times where you get to where your country's uniform. We're among a very select group of people and I'm thrilled to be here to represent all those back at home.

On the course:
I love the course. I like that it offers a variety. The hill is definitely going to break up the group of athletes. You won't be able to sit on the back and have a free ride. For spectators, it's unprecedented. With the transition being about 1000 meters, the spectators will be able to see almost half the run just from the grandstands. It will be much more exciting than watching us just come in an out every lap.

On the weather conditions:
The heat and pollution haven't been too bad. The real test is going to be the actual course. That's nice, so we don't have to worry about the elements too much.

On dealing with big race nerves:
I'm a late reactor, so I usually don't get butterflies until I get on the start line or maybe race morning. Walking in Opening Ceremonies is a very special time. You look around and you're among these superstars. They are marching alongside you. It really helps to bring home the importance of this event. So being a part of the ceremonies, that's when I got it. But going over to Korea and training, there was none of that. Now the excitement is building up again.

On her preparations:
I feel so prepared. Once I got here, I knew that I've done everything I've needed to do. The more you think about it and mull over it, you're going to screw yourself into a frenzy. I'm just doing the same old things that I would do before any other race.


On the Olympics experience:
It's been a goal of mine since I was little. I grew up watching the Olympics. I loved swimming and running and all the sports. To be here today, to represent my country, I feel very honored and very proud. I'm thinking forward to going out there, race hard and have a great time.

On the Korea training camp:
Training in Korea gave us an opportunity to get away from all the events and everything going on and just to be able to focus on training. We wanted to go train somewhere we could have the same climate and also adjust to the time zone. It's not as hot here, but you never know, Monday and Tuesday it could pick back up. It's good to be prepared for that.

I think we had a great training camp there. It got us prepared for China.

On her decision not to fly to Beijing for Opening Ceremonies:
I looked at the scheduling. Everyone is different and has different preparations, but I don't really do long tapers. For me, I felt I needed to get in critical training during that time. I thought it was a lot of travel. Obviously, I would have loved to be at the ceremonies. But I'm happy with my decision. We have it TIVO'd. So we'll go back and watch in on HD. For me, I want to go into the race knowing that I did everything I could to best prepare myself and I felt like if I [went to the ceremonies] I would have taken away from my preparation.

On her mental preparations:
I feel in my mindset, I'm preparing for it like it's another race. There are a lot of extra things that are going along with it. I'm just telling myself it's just another race. That's all I can do.

On teamwork and race strategy:
The swim is very important to get out. Laura, Julie and I talked about where to position ourselves. That's key for us to get out ahead. We are all strong swimmers, so we want to get out in that lead group. A big separation is a factor early in the bike. You immediately have that climb. My goal is to ride hard and get the front group down as small as possible and really work together in the group to maintain a lead and keep the stronger runners back behind. Get off the bike with a bigger lead.


On the Olympics experience:
I feel very honored to represent the U.S. and be a part of the "big show." I'm as prepped as I can be and I'm very happy with where I am and I look forward to the race on Monday.

On racing the best in the biggest race:
The one thing about the Olympics is everyone wants to perform well on that day. That's something I've always wanted to be a part of. And whether it works out for me or not, that's irrelevant. I want to take on that challenge and try to perform the best when everyone else wants to as well. I've done well at World Championships and I'm very proud of that, but not everyone wants to peak on World Championship days, but the Olympics are different. That's why I want to be here.

On dealing with nerves:
Nervous? No. I look forward to it. I want to race. If I didn't have to train, and I could just race all the time, I would do that instead. Training's gone really well for me. I've done everything I can. That brings me to the race and I'm excited to give it a go.

On what she needs to do to win a medal:
I need to race my absolute best. I've changed a few things this summer, and maybe it will catapult me up to that next level. But I would be thrilled to be on the podium, to be in the mix and to be in the game with the best girls. That's the main goal. And we'll see how it turns out. You don't look at expectations. You can be as fit as you can be and not have a great race. You play the game as it comes to you on the day and try to make the right decisions at the right time.


On the Olympics experience:
I'm definitely excited to be here. I've been having so much fun with the whole Olympic experience. I'm very excited to have made my first team in my first try. I love this venue. I've done well the past two years here. Things have been going great. I'm excited to get out there and race on Tuesday.

On the venue:
They do an amazing job with this venue. We've all raced here over the past couple of years. From where it started to where it is now, it's awesome. You can see the mountains today. It's probably the most beautiful venue at the Games. Every time I ride it, I get pretty excited. I think it's going to be a really fun race.

On the Korea training camp:
I had a great last week of training. Things went really well in Cheju. I felt great, really on top of things. Now, less is more. I have three more days until the race.

On his goals for the race:
I'm trying to keep the expectations off myself. Obviously I'd love to do well, but at the same time, I really want to have a good experience and just race as hard as I can.

On his race strategy:
I'm definitely a better swimmer than I was last year. That's one of the things I'll try to capitalize on, try to come out of the water a little bit further ahead. Tenth to 17th place is my goal out of the water. I've always liked the bike here. It's a tough, challenging hill. It's always been good for me. And the run course with the little small hill, I always like passing people going up that.

I like my chances here and I think I will be able to do well on this course, that makes me excited. I was 15th in 2006 and 11th last year, so I'll try to keep that progression going.

On the feeling pressure to perform well:
I think I feel a little more pressure, but I've also learned how to handle it a lot better over the last couple of years. My goal for this race is really to have fun and have a great experience. Knowing I'll be around for at least two more Olympic cycles, this is really to get my feet wet and go out and race as hard as I can. It will be a bonus if I finish with a top 10 or with a medal. Not that I don't think I can do that, but realistically I'm not trying to overshoot my goals. Race as hard as I can and see what happens.


On racing as an American:
Being a new American citizen, I'm honored to race for America. It's also a special time for me because I get to compete against my brother, who races for New Zealand. I'm going to try to beat him. I can't wait for the race on Tuesday. It should be a great event.

On the venue and the course:
We're lucky. It's a beautiful place to have a race. It's a challenging course. It's been hot all the years we've been here, so we were expecting it to be hot Monday and Tuesday, again. It's a strongman's course, and I think we all have a great chance. It has a few hills in it, which makes it tough as well.

It's a good course for me. The hill is really tough. There is some flat and downhill where I can use my strength. A lot of times people get content to sit at the back of the pack down the hill and just roll down the hill, where I can push a big gear and maybe put time on people. I expect to be up there somewhere near the front, hopefully first.

On how he feels heading into the race:
I feel good. I've been feeling good for a while. I just want to get this race over and done with. For me, I just want to go into the race feeling fresh. I think about how I feel every day. I want to get to the race as far as I can be without losing fitness.

On his race strategy:
I need to be up at the front of the race at all times. If I need to or want to I can use my bike being my strength, to possibly get a lead. Although I've trained my self to be able to run with them, it would still be better to have a bit of lead on them on the bike.


On the Olympics experience:
This is my third Olympic Games, and it never gets old. It's always very special. I'm really excited to be a part of Team USA and represent my country, everyone back home. For us it was an amazing experience to go to Opening Ceremonies. I hadn't been to the opening in Sydney or in Athens, so for me it was an amazing time. I loved every minute of it.

On the venue:
I think it's really special because you can watch the entire swim from the stands. There are not many venues where you can see the entire swim course from the stands. It's pretty unique. The backdrop is pretty amazing. Swimming in the reservoir, the water is really nice. It's a great venue.

On the important of the Olympics for the exposure of triathlon:
Our sport has only been a part of the Games since 2000. This is the biggest stage our sport could possible be on. For us to race in front of millions of people watching on TV, it's great. It's only going to uplift the sport, enhance it, make it more global than it already is. We're a very young sport in the Olympic Games, but hopefully this venue will showcase it very well.

On the course and conditions:
The heat and humidity are a big factor of this course. I think it's only going to get hotter as we get closer to race day. The course itself is challenging. It's up and down, it's rolling, it's a true test of a triathlete. It's very fair. It's a great example and display for our sport.

On how this course compares to Athens and Sydney: The course is very similar to Sydney. Sydney was very much a strength course, as well. The bike was kind of rolling, the run too. The weather in Sydney wasn't nearly as hot. The venue in Sydney was spectacular, just like it is here. The fans really came out; they lined the course. Probably the biggest triathlon, in terms of fan support, I've ever done. In Athens it was different, because the bike had such a steep hill. You did this hill five times and the grade had to have been 18 percent for some part of it. It was very challenging.

On providing advice to his teammates:
I shared with them what to expect, but they haven't really come up to me to ask for advice. You got to let them take it in and enjoy. The biggest thing is to enjoy, the whole event, the race, the venues. I try to tell them that as much as I can.

On his preparations and avoiding expectations:
Going to the opening ceremonies was important for me. It was my first time. You have to have those memories.

It's been easy [to avoid high expectations]. I surrounded myself around people who know my mindset this time around. I've done the expectations, I've put the pressure on myself. I did that with Athens. There's only three athletes that will be fortunate enough to get on the podium. If I have a great day, great, I will be that guy. I would love to be that person. But if it doesn't goal well, I will be upset and sad and initially. But I'm going to realize that I had another time to race.

I've been dealing with injury. It is pretty easier to enjoy this time around because I didn't know if I would actually get here. My pick on the starting pontoon was the third from the last. It's come full circle. You're world number one and all of a sudden you're the last guy to go pick your spot. You don't even get to pick, you just say "I'll take one of those, whatever's left." I don't care. It's crazy to think that. But it's really easy to enjoy the process, enjoy the moment.
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