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Interview with Jasmin Glaesser

by Sarah Nathan

February 11, 2011 – When running injuries had her looking around for a new endurance sport in the spring of 2009, then 17-year-old Jasmin Glaesser of Port Coquitlam, BC signed up for the Vancouver-based Escape Velocity Cycling Club’s Young Women Cyclists program. Immediately hooked on road and track racing, Glaesser began working with personal coach Jeremy Storie in winter 2010, and went on to finish first at both the road race and time trial at Junior Road Nationals in July of 2010.

Though she’s lived in Canada since the age of 8, Glaesser’s citizenship is German, so currently she cannot earn a Canadian National Champion title. Citizenship aside, her successes on the road and in the velodrome have attracted the attention of the Canadian Cycling Association.

Now in the midst of obtaining Canadian citizenship, Glaesser is one of six riders identified to participate in a series of training camps at the Los Angeles Velodrome funded by a public-private partnership between the CCA and B2ten. The objective of the training camps is to identify a pool of riders to support the Women’s team pursuit. Pedal caught up with the rising star while she was attending one of these training camps in LA to find out more about her background, her cycling experience to date, and what she’s looking forward to in 2011.

It’s great to see you as part of the CCA/B2ten project – how’s the Citizenship process going?
Jasmin Glaesser: I submitted the paper work last March, and it takes a year to 15 months to complete. I have confirmation that it’s been processed, and I’m hoping to get it before the summer. As a worst case scenario, it will be here before the next Track World Cup season. So I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!

How are things going in LA?
JG: They’re trying to develop a pool of athletes to draw from for women’s team pursuit, and so I’m down here with Joelle Noumainville, Julia Bradley, and Clara Hughes. Today we raced in the team pursuit at the LA Velodrome Winter Classic, and on Monday we’ll try to ride to a time standard to see our progress after training together for a week.

You’re still relatively new to the sport – a year ago, could you have imagined you’d be training with someone like Clara Hughes?
JG: It’s definitely pretty motivating to be surrounded by accomplished athletes and to realize that their success is built on a foundation of hard work and positive work ethics, not some extraterrestrial gift. For the most part though I like to focus on my own riding and to work on bettering myself to the best of my ability.

What was your sport background before cycling?
JG: I did a couple of things. I was distance running for a few years, at a recreational/competitive level – I ran with a local sports club and my high school. Before that, I was figure skating, but I was definitely not very graceful! I preferred running because you just went out and trained hard and did well.

What made you want to try cycling?
JG: I had a bunch of running injuries and I couldn’t run competitively anymore, so I wanted another endurance sport. I took the Young Women’s Cycling Program that the Escape Velocity Cycling Club offers. It was a great clinic that introduced us to road racing and to track, and I got right into racing through that clinic – it was super fun. I’ve always been a really competitive person, and I loved the racing right away.

What has your race team experience been like so far?
JG: I guest-rode for Total Restoration last year. TR had a great team set up with Corey [Forest] and Marnie [Hambleton] in charge – it was really great to see what riding for a well structured team is like. It was a great opportunity to get to some bigger races, and I liked that I always knew what expectations they had of me as a rider on the team.

This year I’m riding for Local Ride presented by Dr. Vie Super Foods. Some of us will be representing Team BC at out-of-province races as well. Jeremy [Storie] is directing the team, and I’m excited about that – he has experience directing with past teams like Giant and Symmetrics.

What are you looking forward to this season with Local Ride p/b Dr Vie Super Foods?
JG: Taking BC road racing by storm! (laughs). I think there was some negative racing in the women’s field last year – I felt like there were a lot of riders holding back, not racing aggressively, and not getting what they could out of it. It would be good to mix that up and to get people really racing hard. We have a strong roster with Jess Hannah, Laura Brown, Steph Roorda, Jenny Lehmann among others. I think things will vary race to race – I’m just as excited to race for other people on the team.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of bike racing for you?
JG: It’s a tough sport. There’s so much more that goes into it that you wouldn’t have thought of before, like mental prep, maintaining your bike, race planning and debriefing. You have to be really organized so that on race day you can just get on the bike and ride. That was something I really learned last year. It’s a challenging sport and that’s what I really love about it.

What’s coming up for you on the road and the track for 2011?
JG: Well, I’m not 100% sure what’s going to happen for me with the B2ten team pursuit program – it’s still in the rider selection phase. Road-wise, I’m looking to continue building on all the experience from last year, and hopefully to back that up with some results. Team BC got into a few UCI races in Europe this spring, so I’ll be over there racing in May and June – that will be some great experience for sure!

Do you have a preference for road vs track – and what have you learned on the track that’s been helpful on the road?
JG: I’m pretty excited about both of them – both have their ups and downs and both are tough, so between the two of them there’s lots of challenges. Track definitely helps with road racing – especially bunch racing – you really get a feel for being in a pack, navigation through the pack and reacting to attacks. Plus you get some really good leg speed.

When things are tough, what motivates you to keep at it?
JG: I love challenging myself, pushing myself and testing where my limits are. There’s always something new to work on, there’s always a new goal. There’s no limit to how good you can be at cycling.

What’s been your favourite race experience so far?
JG: Definitely the Cascade Classic last summer – it was my first ever NRC race. I really got my ass kicked, but the whole time I loved it, and I couldn’t wait to come back next year and improve.

Seeing the higher level of racing at Cascade, which was so different from my previous racing was a really great learning experience. The average pace was so much faster and the field was much bigger – I was in shock over how cool it was! At that race, it became clear why you need all those little skills you learn in local racing, but that you don’t always use very much.

The importance of working as a team stood out there – you have people going in breaks, and you need a team to chase those down. Riders work with their teams to keep the pace high up to the base of a climb. I was guest-riding for Keller-Rohrback at Cascade, and we were riding for Tara [Whitten]. Being able to contribute to her success was really fun!

What have you learned in cycling that’s useful for life in general?
JG: I think you gain an ability to focus on what you need to do and on getting it done. To set yourself a goal, to plan how to reach it, and then to go out and do it.

Thanks Jasmin, and all the best with your season!
JG: Thanks!

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