Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chris Horner finishes second in Tirreno-Adriatico stage race

Vincenzo Nibali of Italy won the Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race Tuesday, overtaking 40-year-old Chris Horner, of Bend, in the closing individual time trial. This was Horner’s first race since his season-ending crash during last year’s Tour de France.

Nibali, the 2010 Spanish Vuelta champion, is the third Italian in four years to win this race. He was six seconds behind Horner and one second behind Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic at the start of the seventh stage.

Nibali was ninth fastest in 5.8-mile time trial. The Liquigas rider had an overall time of 29 hours, 38 minutes, 8 seconds to beat Horner by 14 seconds.

“It was a great performance,” Nibali said. “A great time trial, even if there was a strong opposing wind, which kept moving my front wheel. I was even forced to touch the brakes.”

Horner said he had “no mixed feelings” about the outcome and called it a “fantastic week.”

“The team did a great team time trial to set me up to take the jersey, and I defended it for a few days. Tactically, I think we did a brilliant race. This is not a course that is ideal for me, but to stay on the podium is good for me,” he said.

“After what happened in the Tour last year and to be out of racing for so long, for me there was always a little bit of doubt how I would feel to come back. I held the jersey for three days in my first race in eight months. I’m coming out of this very satisfied.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Difficult to ignore the presence of Kelly Slater in the 2012 ASP World Title series

One of the biggest attractions in the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Title series is Kelly Slater. The iconic American surfer has been dominating the waves for nearly two decades now, collecting 11 ASP World Title in the process along with a large number of victories. There is hardly any surfer who claims to be as good or as successful as the Florida-based surfer, putting him in a class of his own and a man to beat at every competition.

After winning the World Championship Title in 2011, Slater remained mum about his plans regarding the 2012 ASP World Tour. However, he did confirm his plans on competing at Snapper Rocks where the first stop of the elite tour, Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, in Queensland, Australia. This was enough to get the surfing fans over-excited about the season opener.

Arriving at the renowned Australian surf break, Slater found himself pitted against America’s Kolohe Andino and Australia’s Garrett Parkes in the first round of the competition. Both his rivals were quite young and equally inexperienced, but to undermine their talent was something that just did not sound fair considering their achievements in the recent years. Andino in particular was being considered as one of the best surfer to emerge from California in nearly two decades.

Living up to his repute, Slater took less than six minutes to post a massive score on the score-board and therefore made Andino and Parkes succumb to him, sending the two young guns into the relegation round. The three-to-four foot waves on offer at the primary event site seemed to be responding to him rather than him adjust his style to adapt to them.

There was hardly anyone who expected anything less than an ideal start by Slater and the American surfer surely did justice to the expectations and hype that surrounded him.

Heading into the third round, the legendary surfer came face-to-face with the Hawaiian surfer Fredrick Patacchia. His latest opponent was without any doubt in a solid form, something that was made evident by his performance in the first round where he managed to get the better of Australia’s Taj Burrow, creating the very first upset of the competition.

However, the Hawaiian was unable to stand his ground as a raging Slater took him down in the man-on-man heat through a display of exceptional skills and genuine class. The Florida-based surfer may not be invincible, but there are very few surfers who manage to hold him off. Much to the dismay of Patacchia, he was unable to tame Slater during the heat and consequently ended up conceding an easy win to his rival.

Slater continued to dominate the waves during the fourth round of the competition, this time adding French Polynesia’s Michel Bourez and Brazil’s Heitor Alves to his list of victims before making his way into the Quarter-finals.

Squaring off with Slater in the Quarter-finals was Australia’s Josh Kerr. The American surfer had gotten the better of the Australian during their four encounters in the 2011 ASP World Tour. However, Kerr did allow the stats from last year intimidate him and instead decided to take the world’s best surfer head on. The positive attitude allowed him to defy all odds and overcome Slater to clinch top honours, bringing the domination of Slater in the 2012 ASP World Tour’s opening event to an end.

Slater was therefore forced to settle for an equal third-place finish after the conclusion of Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.

The 40-year-old ASP World Champion seemed to be planning on deciding about competing in the full 2012 ASP World tour season after Snapper Rocks. Reaching the Quarters-finals was nothing short of an impressive run, though it was difficult to tell if it was enough to convince Slater to return for the second stop of the 2012 ASP World Tour, Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which is scheduled to kick-off from April 3.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mario Cipollini wants to ride Giro d'Italia as lead-out man

Mario Cipollini has claimed that he wishes to make a comeback to professional cycling at 45 years of age and ride the Giro d’Italia as lead-out man for young sprint talent Andrea Guardini.

The former world champion first retired in May 2005, before making a brief comeback in the colours of Rock Racing at the 2008 Tour of California. In spite of his advanced years, Cipollini told Gazzetta dello Sport that he wishes to return with the Farnese Vini-Selle Italia team, which rides his MCipollini frames.

“I want to return to racing to come to the Giro and lead out the sprints for Guardini,” said Cipollini, who will turn 45 on March 22. “I feel good, and what is a good sign is that I feel an extreme desire to work hard.”

Seven years on from his original retirement, Cipollini admitted that he is heavier now than in his heyday but insisted that he was still capable of performing at the highest level.

“I weigh 90kg, 8 more than when I was in top condition, but it’s not excess fat, just muscle, especially in my arms and trunk. My legs are perfect. I have some little pains in my knee and back, but my motor is good, and capable of standing up to this gamble.”

Cipollini also grandly explained that he would make himself available for scientific research, “to understand what changes there are in a high-level athlete with the passing of years.” The Tuscan maintains that improved standards of living mean that athletic careers can now extend longer than ever before: “I’m convinced that even someone of 45 years of age isn’t to be dismissed as an athlete.”

Cipollini is thus determined to ride the Giro in the service of Guardini, who was born eleven days after his first stage victory in the race in 1989. “Guardini has talent and races on my bikes. It would really be a beautiful challenge to be one of his domestiques at the Giro, and if I pulled the sprint for him against Cavendish, how many would he win?”

That desire to ride the Giro may well find an insurmountable obstacle in UCI anti-doping regulation, however. Any retired rider who wishes to return to competition must notify the UCI six months in advance and spend at least four months on the anti-doping register before he can compete at international level, as per article 84 of the UCI anti-doping code.

The rule was controversially waived in 2009 to allow Lance Armstrong ride the Tour Down Under on his comeback from retirement. That same year, Michele Bartoli spent six months complying with the whereabouts system before ultimately deciding not to make a comeback with the ISD squad, incidentally the same outfit with which Cipollini wishes to return.

“I want to be as transparent as water and I’m open to extra tests,” Cipollini said. “Ivan Basso laid himself bare and has become an example of credibility. I will ask advice from him about putting science and technology at my disposal.”

Cipollini bristled at the idea that any return to top-level cycling was motivated by financial gain rather than more Corinthian ideals. “[Michael] Schumacher has money, right? And a family? So who made him come back and risk his neck? Armstrong has come back into the fray in triathlons. There are conscious and unconscious factors. Above all, an athlete lives on emotions that are hard to leave behind.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dave Zabriskie smokes the field in opening time trial

As expected, pre-stage favourite David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) took out the opening 20.3 kilometre time trial at Le Tour de Langkawi on Friday with a time of 0:24:34.18. Zabriskie now wears the first yellow jersey of the 2012 stage race.

Roman Van Uden (New Zealand) was the first man out of the start house but it was his cross-Tasman rivals who set the day's benchmarks for the heavy hitters like Zabriskie and teammate Tom Danielson to chase.

Drapac's Darren Lapthorne stopped the clock at 0:25:44.85 before teammate Adam Phelan set the new best time of 0:25:34.48. Langkawi marks Phelan's first race since a severe concussion in December while on a team training camp ruled him out of the Australian Road Championships and the New Zealand Cycle Classic. Admitting that his time in the hot seat may have be limited with Zabriskie and Danielson yet to start, the 20-year-old could never have imagined that his time would stand for as long as it did.

Last March, Phelan won the prologue time trial at the Tour of Taiwan but he admitted that the 20.3km distance on Friday was a new frontier: "I had no experience with 20km time trials," he said.

Joe Cooper (New Zealand) moved into third position with his effort but soon after Zabriskie had left the start house and had set a new best time of 11:25 at the first time check. At the halfway mark, the US National Time Trail champion was just over half a minute up on Phelan and the podium was set for the slightest of re-shuffles.

Danielson could only manage fourth, ensuring the Australian pair would flank Zabriskie on the podium.

"I am very happy to wear the yellow jersey," Zabriskie said following his win. "Today I was fine, I was excited to start my 2012 with a time trial. The course suited me and the roads were great, I had no references in the race lap times, I went by instinct. It is always nice to win, I'm happy."

Stage 2 of the Le Tour de Langkawi continues on Saturday with a 151km sprint stage from Putrajaya to Melaka.

DZ - A Unique Start to the Year


Art Crimes
The kids are into crafts and we’re encouraging their artwork. Maybe too much. A little graffiti on the house tends to add a not-so-subtle touch to the décor. But I like it. Encouraged, the boys suggested they ‘tag’ the neighbor’s house too. Well even their free-spirited dad has to draw the line at times and get these boys used to at least a little disappointment.

A Camp Unlike Any Other
I’ve missed the official training camp this year in Spain. It’s the first time in my 13 years as a pro. The team trusts me enough to get my training done at home and show up ready to race. So I stayed in California post the new year as it really didn’t make sense to go to Europe with my first race being in Malaysia. It’s simply easier for me to get there from here and I get to skip a whole lot of unnecessary jet lag. We’ve had some great weather here and I’ve gotten in some great training on the local roads where my motivation is always high and I get to come home after every ride. The local Four Seasons in Westlake Village has even thrown in some support and allowed me use of their sauna in prep for my first race (Le Tour de Langkawi) which will be a hot one. Going to the hotel kind of gave me that camp feeling a little bit…or maybe not.

Kid’s Club
I recently did a small ride with the Oaks Christian High School Bike Club around the Westlake area. It was great to meet the teacher, Rich, who started the club and is carefully but enthusiastically nurturing his students interest in all things cycling. The kids were cool and fun for me to see how excited they are to ride their bikes. It brought me back to some long forgotten memories of my youth. Because their riding time is limited (it’s in the middle of their school day) these kids even get neutral support on their rides from the local shop, Win’s Wheels. Nice. I saw one of the young riders recently at Starbucks. I said ‘ciao Taylor’ and could tell he was amused by my ability to remember him.

A Different Kind of Recovery
I was pleased to be invited to visit with a group of recovering Vets who were participating in a Ride2Recovery training camp in my area. These were wounded x-military folks who are using the bike to benefit their mental and physical rehabilitation. This is a unique program run by some unique people who know the healing value of the bike. I did a little evening Q&A, took some photos and signed some autographs. The folks were kind and appreciative but it really was I that was blown away by their stories.

Fast, Faster, Fastest
I finally got my hands on the highly anticipated P5 TT bike. I did some photos and tested a few postions in the wind tunnel in San Diego. It is a fast machine. Just looking at it gives me motivation to want to hand out some whoop-ins. It was kind of a last minute deal to go down to San Diego from LA. I was on the last day of a big training block so it was a bit of a rush to finish up in the tunnel and get on the road and get the riding in. I finally hit the road at about 1pm and just went up and down Palomar Mountain until the sun dropped. I ended with nearly 12,000 ft in 60 miles. Finally jumped in the car which for some reason was a team car with a cool dude named Austen behind the wheel. He represents a Tri guy and was in San Diego talking to Cervelo and volunteered to help me out, so thanks Austen. He didn’t complain once and seemed pretty pumped to be helping out which which made the experience all the more enjoyable for me. I finally found a shower (thanks Albert) and then the wife and kids found me and we were back off toward LA.

Let’s Mess That Mouse Up
With a big block in the legs and a few rest days on the horizon I said, ‘WE’RE GOING TO MOTHER-FUCKING DISNEYLAND BITCHES”…ok so maybe I only said that in my head…but we pulled into a hotel called the Grand Californian and it was packed. The parking attendent said, ‘good luck if you don’t have reservations.’ The hotel was full of parents and kids and strollers, really some of the biggest strollers I’ve ever seen. All the rooms were taken and I was cracking fast so I was about to bag it and I said let’s go home. But my 3 year old said ‘Nooooo’. Whoa, he must know that he is close to some magic. So I find a new hotel and they have space, but it takes the guy forever to book me in because he has never had a walk-in before. I was throwing this place for a real loop. I eventually went out to the car with a room key and my son screamed, ‘WOO-HOOOOO!’ Finally a room with a warm bed and excited kids, but I was so tired that suddenly it was only sleep that filled my world.

Morning came soon enough and it was time to find our way into the park. I was buying tickets and dropping major cash like the rest of the crazies when the ticket woman asks, ‘Where you from?’ I know she’s going to try and sell me something I don’t want so I say I’m from Alaska. But then she asks me for my ID and credit card and of course it says California. We eye each other for a brief moment and then she silently smiles.

Walking around Disneyland was quite the experience. I really couldn’t believe how busy it was. I wanted to tweet some pics but I thought my teammates would be a little pissed that they were racing in the cold and snow and here I was at Disneyland. It was cool to walk around with the kids and we put in the full day and night there and the crowds never died down. Favorite ride for the kids was It’s a Small World. Worst moment was when the one year old woke up in the stroller covered in shit. As they say, ‘shit happens’ and sometimes it sqeezes out and goes up the back. Well that sucked big time. We finally said ‘see you later’ to Disneyland, all that magic and dreams coming true and headed for home. I was wired for the drive after I found the Peet’s Coffee and off we went, the whole family charged up from the day.

Tommy D. was in the area for some training but we didn’t really get to ride together. I think he was waking up early trying to get his riding done so he could maximize his family time as his wife is pregnant and not going to be joining him in Europe. However, we did meet up at the press presentation for the Amgen Tour of California. That event was pretty cool as it was held right on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and Tommy and I, Horner and the actor and Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer spokesperson Patrick Dempsey got to ride with a police escort down the famous boulevard. The press event was fun but also a stark reminder that this race continues to be dialed up. I still can’t believe they’re going to start the last stage in BH. The TT has moved from Solvang and will now be in Bakersfield and is going to be a hard one this year. Actually, I don’t think there’s going to be one easy day during the entire race. Now they are even including Mt. Diablo, which should be some good fun. I do miss the Bay area, but not the rain. Below are a few photos from the press event shot by fellow cyclist and photographer Gus Corona. I hope to see you all at the race.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

11 Time World Champion Kelly Slater Eyes Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast

Kelly Slater (USA), 40, 11-time ASP World Champion and three-time Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast winner, is excited to kick off the 2012 ASP World Title season next week at Snapper Rocks.

Kelly Slater (USA), 40, 11-time Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Champion, has categorically dominated the sport of surfing for the past two decades. The Floridian has collected an astounding 48 elite tour wins throughout his tenure amongst the world’s best surfers and holds virtually every record the surfing world has to offer.

The question on everyone’s mind at the moment is “will Kelly put in a full year at the elite level of competition to defend his throne?”

Historically coy when discussing his annual plans, Slater’s commitment status of “full-time” to the ASP World Title Series traditionally rests upon his performance at the opening event of the season, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover – an event he’s won on three previous occasions (2006, 2008, 2011).

“There have been years when this approach has been a little frustrating but it’s also sort of a wildcard way of deciding,” Slater said. “I’ve had good success on the Goldy and this year should be fun again. I can’t wait to be there. I’m undecided as to whether I’ll apply full time (to the 2012 ASP World Title Series). That’s probably no secret. I’ll go by feel and whatever feels right internally, I’ll stick with that.”

While considered a “citizen of the globe” due to his extensive travels, Slater’s primary residences during this past offseason have been Southern California and the North Shore of Oahu. With an abundance of swell hitting both locations throughout December, January and February, the iconic natural-footer has had plenty of opportunity to ready for the opening event of the year at Snapper Rocks.

“I usually finish prepping for the start of the year by surfing Rincon,” Slater said. “It’s easy to tune in boards quickly there to know what you’re dealing with. I’ve been scoring a lot of surf last few weeks. Probably more water time than normal. I haven’t been riding shortboards a lot though, focusing on mostly barrels and not necessarily performance so I’ll have to tune in to what I’ll have to do in Oz.”

Although having recently turned 40, Slater feels few, if any, physical deficiencies and generally believes he is a stronger all-around surfer and competitor than he was when he first commenced his touring back at age 20.

“I have a few nagging injuries but overall I’m pretty good,” Slater said. “I hurt my ribs pretty badly a couple weeks back but they should be okay by Snapper time. I do feel a little bit of issue there, but I’m planning on being healthier and stronger in the coming years. I’m much better all around now than when I was 20. Probably the hold back is the overall desire to improve day to day. I focus more on enjoying my surfing than expanding day to day, but I still get kicked into gear when I see what everyone is working on and doing. Being in the environment on tour with the guys gets you going pretty quickly.”

The 2012 ASP Top 34 will see a historic age disparity of 23 years between the oldest surfers at the elite level and the youngest. As a new generation of surfers readies to do battle on the ASP Dream Tour, Slater is excited to see how performance levels will continue to soar as well as the how the dynamics of the 2012 ASP World Title race unfold.

“Of course I’m excited to see guys like Dane (Reynolds) and Kolohe (Andino) and Gabriel (Medina) and Julian (Wilson) and Miguel (Pupo) and Josh (Kerr),” Slater said. “Then the usual suspects: Joel (Parkinson), Mick (Fanning), Taj (Burrow), etc. We’ll surely be hearing talks of ASP World Title threats within weeks and it’ll be fun to watch it pan out and see who steps up to the plate and who has trouble dealing with it. It’s always an interesting start to the year.”

The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will run from February 25 through March 7, 2012 and will be webcast LIVE via

Lance Armstrong Gives Ironman Impetus for First Live TV Coverage in U.S.

World Triathlon Corp. is in discussion with Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s NBC network about televising live part of its 2012 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii as Lance Armstrong targets a spot in the race.

Andrew Messick, World Triathlon’s chief executive officer, said he’ll be “much more aggressive” in getting television coverage for its marquee race because of Armstrong, a seven-time winner of cycling’s Tour de France. NBC currently televises the annual championship race in Kailua-Kona on tape-delay about two months after it takes place.

“We want to investigate opportunities to be able to potentially put parts of the race live, something that has never been done in the U.S.,” Messick said in an interview yesterday in San Diego, California, where he is attending the Triathlon America Business of Triathlon conference. “Lance brings a spotlight to our sport that’s brighter perhaps than anything that has ever happened.”

NBC Sports is “happy our long-term relationship with Ironman runs through 2018,” spokesman Chris McCloskey said in a telephone interview. He declined to comment further.

Armstrong, 40, finished second in his first 70.3-mile half Ironman race on Feb. 12 in Panama City, Panama, an initial step in his quest to qualify for triathlon’s World Championship. Armstrong was overtaken in the final two miles by New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty, a two-time Olympic medalist.

The race, which consisted of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run, wasn’t televised and there was no live video stream on the Internet. Text updates of the event drew 150,000 unique visitors to Ironman’s website, Messick said, up from about 7,500 for similar races a year earlier.

11th Hour
“The race in Panama came about at the 11th hour and we made a decision that it probably wasn’t the right thing to do to put a ton of audio and video resources behind it,” Messick said. “We had very little time to talk about it and get ourselves organized and do the kind of job that we felt we needed to.”

Armstrong, whose Livestrong cancer charity foundation has a sponsorship agreement with World Triathlon, will also compete in half Ironman events in Texas in April, Florida in May, and Hawaii on June 2.

For those races, Messick said Ironman plans to increase its online coverage to include video and audio to spotlight Armstrong’s participation. Armstrong competed as a professional triathlete at age 18 before focusing on cycling.

“Our opportunity as a sport is to use the fact that we have an athlete like Lance and use it to bring more people into triathlon,” Messick said. “There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for people who successfully embrace that.”

Armstrong will race his first professional 140.6-mile full Ironman event June 24 in Nice, France, as he seeks to earn enough points to qualify for the Oct. 13 World Championship in Hawaii. He currently ranks 58th with 1,200 points. The top 40- ranked professionals by July 29 will qualify.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lance Armstrong Is Back! Stunning 2nd Place Answers The Question If He Could Return To Triathlon And Win.....

The pre-race hype surrounding today’s Ironman 70.3 Panamá triathlon focused mostly on the fact that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong would be making his first start in a road triathlon in more than 20 years. Although they didn’t get quite as much pre-race attention, there were other important stories taking shape. Who would take advantage of the early-season opportunity to earn important Kona Pro Ranking (KPR) points? How would two-time Olympic medalist Bevan Docherty fair in his first half-iron distance race in 12 years? Would Leanda Cave show the same great form that led to her first Ironman victory in Arizona at the end of 2011? How would the heat and wind of Panamá affect the outcome? All of these questions were answered.

American Matty Reed, who was the most outspoken about his concerns that Armstrong would receive an unfair advantage with a media circus surrounding him on the bike, led the men out of the Panama canal and into T1. His blazing 1.2-mile swim time of 18:49 came with the help of a current. The time didn’t give him much of an advantage as four men, including Bevan Docherty and Rasmus Henning, were right on his heels. Armstrong turned in the 10th fastest swim of the men, exiting in 19:22 and just ahead of fellow super cyclist Chris Lieto.

It was France’s Bertrand Billard, not Lieto or Armstrong, who pushed the pace early on in the bike. Just 12 miles in, Billard had built a lead of 1:40 over the chase group. About halfway into the bike Armstrong and Lieto took charge, leading the effort to catch the Frenchman. Also in the group with the fast-riding Americans were Henning, Richie Cunningham (AUS), Docherty, Oscar Galindez (BRA) and Romain Guillaume (FRA). Eventually Armstrong, Lieto and Galindez broke away from the rest of the group as they continued to pursue Billard. Billard’s effort on the 56-mile bike course proved to be too much, as Lieto caught him in the final stretch.

It was Lieto leading early efforts on the half-marathon course, with Billard and Armstrong chasing close behind. Billard faded quickly and eventually dropped out. Armstrong’s seemingly conservative effort on the bike paid off. At about three miles into the race Armstrong passed Lieto to take the lead. Armstrong held onto to the front position for the majority of the 13.1 miles, but the win was not meant to be his. A fast-running Docherty passed Armstrong in the final mile of the race to post a run split of 1:12:50 and take the win in 3:50:13. Armstrong’s 1:17:01 half marathon earned him second, finishing just 42 seconds behind Docherty. Cunningham earned the final podium spot thanks to a well-rounded day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Armstrong Announces His Triathlon Plans

The seven-time Tour de France winner will tackle the testing Ironman France in Nice on June 24 in a bid to qualify for the iconic world title showdown in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 13.

Armstrong, 40, will have to master a 2.4mile swim and run a sub-three hour marathon either side of the more familiar territory of a 112mile bike leg if he is to make a successful return to triathlon.

The Texan was a junior state-level swimmer, then moved on to triathlon aged 13, becoming a US sprint-course champion before turning to dominate the world of professional cycling.

Last year he took on the XTERRA (cross country triathlon) world championships, where a heavy mountain bike fall left him dazed and stumbling through the trail run to finish 23rd.

He is hoping to raise $1 million for cancer victims through his LiveStrong foundation and kicks off his racing season by competing in the Ironman 70.3 Panama — a half Iron distance event — on Sunday.

Armstrong's decision comes after prosecutors pursuing long-running doping allegations finally dropped the investigation with no charges being brought.

Adamant he has NEVER failed a drug test, Armstrong became the focus of attention after former team-mate Floyd Landis accused him in 2010 of participating in a doping program. Landis admitted to continual drug taking and was stripped of his own Tour de France title in 2006.

Current and three-time Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander said: "It is exciting to see Lance Armstrong, one of the greatest-ever endurance athletes, coming back to race triathlons in 2012."

Andrew Messick, Chief Exec of the World Triathlon Corporation who run Ironman said: "At 13 years old, Lance got his start in triathlon by racing in the IronKids Series.

"We are happy to have him return to our sport. Lance is a fierce competitor and his involvement with Ironman and Ironman 70.3 is good for triathlon."

After Sunday, Armstrong will race Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas, Ironman 70.3 Florida, Ironman 70.3 Hawaii and Ironman France in an attempt to pick up enough qualifying points to race the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Diet - No Fatty Snacks For Kelly Slater

It kinda makes sense that Kelly Slater eats well and cares about what he puts in his body. After all, the 39-year-old pro surfing champion hurtles at high speeds through giant ocean swells with just his two feet and a surfboard — not exactly the sort of activity suited for a Dorito-munching dude with a beer belly.

Still, it's rare to talk to a guy with the kind of will power it takes to stick to tea and fresh-squeezed juices throughout the day. Slater, who has become an outspoken advocate of preserving the oceans and an ambassador for the healthy fast casual chain Daphne's California Greek, sticks to his principles in and out of the water. But that, as he hints during a recent email chat, doesn't necessarily mean he won't eat a fish taco.

First up, where are you right now and what are you up to?

I'm in Santa Barbara and I've just been surfing and organizing my life a bit before I spend the rest of the winter in Hawaii.

How does eating affect surfing? Do you have to carbo-load or anything like that?

Eating affects everything you do. [It's about] focus and physical strength/stamina. You have to have a balance of different things from your fruits (which I try to focus on in the morning) to your proteins and veggies, and also your carbs.

Would it be generalizing to say that surfers eat a lot of tacos?

Not really. Fish tacos are a staple for surfers, I'd say. Can't really mess that up.

Can you tell us about your food history—like how you ate growing up?

I didn't eat very well but didn't starve. Just lots of sugar and ice cream and all that. When I was around 20, I really started educating myself about the health issues and [learned about] what foods do inside your body.

You're about to turn 40. Has your metabolism changed as you've gotten a bit older?

Not that I notice. I feel as good as ever and don't gain or lose much weight.

You travel a lot. Is it hard to keep to any sort of routine? How do you do it?

It's hard to have a consistent routine on the road. After years of doing it you know how to pull it off based on what's readily available in all of the places we go.

What are some of your favorite spots around the world for food? Any favorite restaurants?

I love France. Paris is amazing, and NYC has everything. LA is hard to beat and Singapore has the best of all worlds and lots of Asian and spicy foods that I love. My favorite restaurant is Tantina de la Playa in Bidart, France, a Basque seafood restaurant on the beach near Spain.

We know you're involved in environmental issues with protecting the oceans. How do you feel about overfishing?

It's a huge problem, but we have a giant population. It's definitely something we need to look 5 to 10 and even 50 to 100 years out at and figure out solutions for now and long term.

Do you have any sustainable fish apps on your phone?

I don't, but I'm pretty educated in which [fish] to eat and which to not order.

Any organizations you wanna shout out that people can support to help protect the oceans and reefs?

The first that comes to mind is the Plastic Pollution Coalition. I'll leave it at that for now but I've worked a bit with them over the past few years.

What are your favorite beverages (alcoholic or non)?

Lemon and honey in warm water in the morning. Fresh pressed juices during the day. Almond Milk and smoothies.

Do you cook, and if so, what's your best dish?

I make a pretty good pancake.

Last question: What do you eat if you want some comfort food?

Hot Chocolate and maybe some soup.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kara Goucher qualifies for 2012 Summer Olympics

Kara Goucher of Portland, Ore., placed third in Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials for women in Houston, Texas, to earn a spot in the 2012 Summer Games in London.

The top three women and men advanced to the Olympic Games. Both races were held on the same day and the same course for the first time in American history.

Shalane Flanagan, Goucher’s training partner in Portland, Ore., has won in 2:25:38, followed by favorite Desiree Davila in 2:25:55 and Goucher 2:26:06. They were well under the U.S. Trials record of 2:28.

Saturday's trial was the second marathon for the 30-year-old Flanagan and first since she was the runner-up in New York in 2010. She has qualified for her third Olympics.

Davila, 28, the runner-up in Boston last year, is set to make her Olympic debut.

Goucher, 33, will compete in her second Games after running in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races in Beijing.

Also, Jennifer Houck,27, a St. Scholastica graduate from Wright, was 47th in a field of 152 in 2:40:51; and Duluthian Katie Koski, 38, in a third U.S. Olympic Trials, was 80th in 2:45:27.

The Relationship Between Exercise and Inflammation (and What It Means for Your Workouts)

By Mark Sisson

Since we’ve been on an inflammation kick the past couple weeks, I figured I’d start covering some of the areas of health and lifestyle that interact with inflammation. That doesn’t exactly narrow things down, seeing as how inflammation is involved in just about everything, but it does give me plenty of things to discuss. Today’s topic, exercise, was a little tricky, because the relationship between exercise and inflammation is anything but straightforward, seemingly fraught with inconsistencies and facts that appear to contradict one another. Exercise reduces inflammation, but it also increases it. And depending on the context, this increased inflammation due to exercise is either a good thing or a bad thing.

Sound confusing?

See for yourself. Study after study (epidemiological and clinical alike) shows that extended exercise programs generally reduce markers of inflammation (like C-reactive protein) over the long-term:

■In elderly Japanese women, a 12-week resistance training program reduced circulating levels of inflammatory markers compared to baseline; reductions in CRP were associated with increases in muscle thickness.
■American adults who engaged in frequent physical activity tended to have lower CRPs than adults who were more sedentary.
■In type 2 diabetics, (key term coming up) long-term high intensity resistance and aerobic training reduced inflammatory markers over the course of a year (independent of changes in body weight, meaning activity was the key factor).
■Endurance combined with resistance training reduced CRP in young, healthy women better than endurance training alone.
■In obese, post-menopausal women, a basic moderate cardio program lowered CRP without really affecting body weight either way over the course of a year.
■At the same time, though, several studies also show that exercise acutely spikes inflammatory markers:
■Volleyball practice elicits spikes in IL-6 in both male and female elite volleyball players.
■Acute exercise spiked CRP in cardiovascular disease patients (but a four-month exercise program lowered it).
■This table of inflammatory responses to strenuous endurance events shows some massive spikes in CRP, some up to 20-fold the baseline value.
There are many more out there, but the general gist is that regular exercise tends to lower markers of systemic inflammation while acute exercise increases markers of acute inflammation. And sometimes what’s acute can become chronic. How do we make sense of this? How do we avoid making those acute spikes a chronic, constant thing?

I had originally planned on digging through the literature and assembling a handy guide explaining the specific inflammatory responses to the different types of exercise, complete with exercise prescriptions based on cytokines and C-reactive protein and all that fun stuff until I realized that such an undertaking is too massive for a blog post, impossible given the limitations of the literature, and overly complex and frankly useless for the average reader. Instead, we have this: a rambling discussion of inflammation and exercise, peppered with helpful nuggets of advice wrought from years of personal (and painful) experience.

Effective exercise is inflammatory exercise… to a point.Some degree of inflammation is necessary if you hope to get anything tangible out of a workout regimen – hypertrophy, increased stamina, increased strength, improved work capacity – because your body gets stronger via the inflammatory response to the stress and by rebuilding and refortifying its tissues to deal with future demands. An effective training session is basically an acute stressor that initiates a transitory, temporary, but powerful inflammatory response. An effective training regimen is composed, then, of lots of those acutely stressful training sessions interspersed with plenty of recovery time against a backdrop of lots of slow moving and good nutrition. You can’t escape that.

Avoid inflammatory plateaus.Track your training. Plotted on a graph, the inflammatory responses to your training should resemble a series of peaks, dips, and valleys. If you don’t let your last exercise-induced inflammatory spike recede before exercising again, you’ll only heap more on the pile. If you keep stringing together spikes in inflammation without recovering from the previous one, they start to overlap and that starts to look a lot like chronic inflammation. That gives you a plateau, a mesa of inflammation. Avoid the mesa.

(You don’t actually have to order CRP tests after every training session and create Excel spreadsheets to “plot your inflammation.” Feeling it out is perfectly fine. Review last week’s post for symptoms and see if you qualify.)

Remember that acute inflammation (good, healthy, necessary) is characterized by an inflammatory response that resolves quickly, or as soon as the offending factor is removed. This takes a day or two, maybe even three, but as long as you remove the stinger/take your hand out of the flame/kill the pathogen/put down the barbell for a couple days, you will recover and the inflammation will subside. Inflammation becomes chronic when the stress is not removed, when you keep getting stung by the same bug/putting your hand in the flame/licking the dirty spinach/doing heavy deadlifts every single day. Don’t do these things and expect differently.

Any type of exercise – besides maybe walking – has the potential to become chronic and induce a state of chronic inflammation. Doing high-intensity Crossfit WODs every single day will do it. Training for a marathon will do it. Do what you enjoy without it becoming chronic. Endurance events aren’t going to kill you, but training for them might.

The reason why I single out Chronic Cardio, marathoning, triathlons, and other ultra-endurance events (and why it’s the easiest way to overtrain and become systemically inflamed in the process) is because excelling at those activities usually requires a ridiculous amount of training time. If you want to be the best Olympic weight lifter you can be, you’ll have to train hard and train often and undergo serious stress, but you won’t be under load for more than a second or two at a time. If you want to be the best endurance athlete you can be, you’re likely going to be “under load” for hours and hours each day. There is very little give in these sports, which is why regular endurance work is so problematic for so many people.

Endurance training is problematic for another reason: you can always complete the workout even when you should be resting. If you’re having a bad training day as an Olympic lifter, you simply won’t make the lift. You can’t slog through a heavy snatch; the necessary effort precludes you even attempting it. You’ll deload or call it a day or make it a light workout, but you’re not going to “power through,” because you physically cannot. But because endurance work is lower intensity, you can slog through the days when your body is trying to tell you to rest. It won’t be pretty, and you’ll feel awful and slow and heavy, but you’ll finish – and you’ll dig yourself in even deeper.

Interestingly, folks who run ultramarathons tend to have lower resting CRPs than marathoners. This threw me for a loop at first, but after thinking some more, it makes sense. All the ultramarathoners I knew were the guys who either couldn’t hack it as marathoners or simply didn’t want to push themselves to the brink. They were generally fairly laid back, while we marathoners were the hyper-competitive types. They would just kinda mosey along at a reasonable pace, while we treated 26.2 miles almost like an extended sprint. Our pacing was GO GO GO *slurp glucose gel pack* GO GO GO. Though they covered far more ground – sometimes more than 100 km – they never dug deep, not in the same way we did. They never had to “go to the well.” My well was running dry by the time I finished my career.

Yeah, exercise is a funny subject. There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all detailed prescription, which is why when I offer my suggestions for exercise on this blog, I try to keep them very general. Rather than prescribe this many sets of these specific lifts for this many reps at this weight, I say “lift heavy things.” That could be bodyweight, sandbags, barbells, kettlebells, or the latest in HIT machine technology. Rather than tell you to jog at this heart rate for this long at this grade this many times a week, I suggest you “move frequently at a slow pace” and “run really fast once in awhile.” You could move slowly or really quickly on your feet on the street, on a trail, on a bike, in a pool, as you garden, or even in place (burpees, anyone?). Sure, I think a day or two of lifting, one session of sprinting, and as much slow movement as you can possibly stand each week are reasonable targets for the general public, but it’s honestly really wide open.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chris Horner on peaking for the Tour de France and Tour of California

RadioShack-Nissan presented five grand tour contenders on stage at their launch last week in Luxembourg and one of their quintet of hopefuls, Chris Horner, isn’t worried about the team’s hierarchy.

The American veteran will aim to peak for both the Tour of California in May and then the Tour de France. Easier said than done, no rider has managed to pull off successful bids at both races in a single calendar year since the US race moved from February to May.

Well aware of the task at hand, Horner is a resilient character, epitomised by his desire to prolong a career when others may have chosen to retire after crashing out of last year’s Tour de France.

In this exclusive video for cyclingnews Horner talks about his recover from his crash at last year’s Tour de France that left him with serious injuries and the potential battle with Levi Leipheimer at this year’s Tour of California.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dave Zabriskie - A Velo Super Hero Revealed

By Dave Z

Happy New Year !!!

It’s hard to imagine a better way to bring in the new year than to be profiled in the current issue of Velo, the print version of But there I am, posed and exposed in my alternate persona as a Super Hero.

Velo editor, Neal Rogers, does a fine job of decoding my ‘enigma’ status with an explanation of my past and present. It’s fair to say not everyone gets me but I think
he does.

At Neal’s request, and as a follow-up to his article, I wrote a ‘Day in the Life’ piece for the magazine. I think of myself as less mysterious than I’m thought of. Cycling fans around the world seem to find me puzzling. I know this from the brief chats I have at coffee shops or on group rides, from the small talk before and after races, and in the emails and messages on my web site and on Facebook. I really think of myself as a normal dude just trying to find his way through life like the rest of you. But the mystery continues. To perhaps better establish my normalcy I answer the question I’m most often asked: ‘What’s a day in your life like?’

click on the title link to read on.....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kelly Slater's 11 ASP World Titles didn't rest on talent alone - Functional fitness was key

For 20 years Kelly Slater's been the focal point of pro surfing, in large part because of his dedication to maintaining his fitness level.

Tom Servais...Show me a person who has good posture, and I'll show you someone who is increasing their chances of enjoying a long, productive career, life ... and 11 world surfing titles. OK, maybe not 11, but hear me out.

For those of us who are hunched over computers all day, commuting a half hour or more to work or carrying the kids around, posture is a hidden but alarming health issue that can gradually get worse over time. For surfers and other athletes, improper posture and muscle imbalance can lead to injuries and slow recovery. It can also dramatically affect performance on a surfboard. For more than 25 years of working with ASP athletes, including Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Jordy Smith, I have preached the power of posture as a vital aspect in their treatment and training as world-class competitors.

Slater has incredible body awareness and when he trains his focus is on full body mobility, stability and strength. He uses a system called Foundation Training, which emphasizes improving posture and core fitness by focusing on strengthening the back of the body to balance the overused, over-stressed front side. It teaches him how to remember what proper movement feels like.

The athlete with rounded shoulders and forward-carried head posture tends to have poor body awareness and alignment, and often walks and runs with a short, choppy gait with hips and feet turned out. These are the athletes most and often prone to declining performance, slower recovery, more injuries, sickness and eventually, a shorter career. The quality of one's movement each day is literally a window to how well the body performs and recovers. Next time you see Slater at an event, notice how effortlessly he walks, paddles out and pops up on his board. This is no coincidence: it comes from how well his central nervous system is connected to his muscles.

I started working with Slater in the early '90s. He has always had extraordinary mobility, but because his sport requires right and left sides to move differently, he always has to work towards achieving optimum balance.

Top strength and conditioning specialists focus on smoothing out and connecting movement. It's somewhat counter-intuitive, but simply training to make muscles stronger is a recipe for injury. For those of us who don't have the benefit of training with a professional strength and conditioning coach, if you want to improve your overall fitness and health, learn to move your body the way it was designed ... like you did when you were a kid, and not a slave to sitting.

Slater also has such naturally keen movement awareness and innate understanding of how important good posture is to feeling and performing at his best. Poor posture and quality of regular movement patterns over time are the main reason athletes become injured; and for us regular folks and weekend warriors, it's why we have bad backs and hips, sore necks and headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, and so on. Good movement is measured by an ability to move how the body was designed with the least amount of stress. Interestingly, nothing illustrates quality of movement like watching a great athlete do his or her thing. Why? Because they move like kids do ... with economy of motion, balance and effortless grace. Guys like Slater make it look so effortless because they maintain a relaxed balance of form and function.

Add to this the fact that Slater has a tremendous thirst for knowledge and is a serious student of the body. He can move incredibly well in some directions, and is less effective in others. There is little doubt that he is a flat-out gifted athlete and has the drive a to be a world-class competitor, but his focus on constantly improving his health through good nutrition and improving balance, movement and posture throughout his career is undoubtedly a key factor in his longevity.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Horner begins 2012 preparations early

Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) has begun training a month earlier than usual as he prepares to make his return to competitive action following his heavy fall at the 2011 Tour de France.

The American suffered a broken nose, cracked ribs, concussion and a blood clot in the lung as a result of his crash on stage 7 of the Tour, and was forced to bring both his race and his season to a premature halt. After five months, Horner is keen to get back into action.

“Normally I wouldn’t even be riding now,” Horner told us. “Normally two hours in a day is the very most I’d have done in early December. Then I’d take the last three weeks of December off and start riding the home trainer while I’m up in Oregon for a week, and then I’d go up to San Diego the second week of January on the road, and then we’d normally have training camp near the end of January.”

This time around, however, Horner has been out on the road since the beginning of December, and made the most of RadioShack-Nissan’s recent training camp in Calpe, Spain to get in some warm-weather miles.

“This year, I started on the first of December and I’ll continue all the way through to the next training camp,” he said. “Basically my training for next year started the first of December rather than the first of January.”

Last winter, RadioShack’s American riders were not requested to cross the Atlantic for the team’s pre-Christmas training camp. The merger with Leopard Trek meant that Horner was happy to make the trek on this occasion.

“Normally I don’t believe so much in December training camps, but you’ve got to get together when it’s a new squad like this,” he said.

As in 2011, Horner will aim to perform strongly in week-long stage races throughout the early part of the new season as he builds towards the Tour de France, where he will play a vital role in Andy and Fränk Schleck’s overall challenge.

“I hope to have a good beginning to the season with the Basque Country and California of course, and then focus in on the Tour de France,” Horner said. “I would like to do more or less the same programme and maybe one or more stage race in there this year, just because it’s been so long since the crash at the Tour when I last raced.”

“It’s been a long time and I’m ready to race, so just for pure and simple pleasure and desire and to feel like a bike racer again, I’d like to do something a little early, like Paris-Nice or Tirreno. That would be ideal.”

No retirement plans

Although now 40 years of age, Horner has no plans to hang up his wheels and believes that his injury-curtailed 2011 campaign may even lengthen his career in the long-run. “I just skipped six months of bike racing, so maybe I’ve added another year to my career, maybe it adds to the freshness of my legs,” he said. “As long as the legs do it, I’ll continue. There’s no set date, it’ll just be a case of when I feel the legs are gone.”

Looking back over his career, Horner reckons that he has significantly less mileage on the clock than European-based professionals of his vintage, something which he feels goes a long way to explain his remarkable longevity. Although he began his career at Française des Jeux in 1997, Horner spent the period from 2000 to 2004 in the United States, before beginning his ‘second career’ in Europe with Saunier Duval.

“I raced back in the States from 2000 through to 2004. In 05, I came back over with Saunier Duval but I broke my leg early in the year, so I missed a lot of that,” he said. Then in 2009 I crashed and missed a bunch of that season too. So realistically the amount of years I’ve spent in Europe is pretty low compared to most guys who are 40 years old.

“When you look at Inigo Cuesta, I mean, that guy had done 14 Vueltas or 16 Vueltas. I can’t remember, but it was a huge number. You’d have to ask him personally, but maybe every year of his career he did 80 European races. I’d never do 80 European races. The most I’d normally do is 70 and since I came back in 05, I don’t think I’ve even done that many. But that could be why the legs are so good right now.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Ironwar: Mark Allen & Dave Scott

By 1989 Dave Scott was a six-time Ironman champion and Mark Allen, defeated in his previous attempts, a feared contender. This time, though, all bets were off. From the start, Mark hung on to Dave with mind-numbing intensity.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Slater & John John Battle At Pipeline

Kelly Slater beat out John John Florence during a spectacular quarterfinal round at the 41st edition of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, but the 11-time World Surfing Champion couldn’t match Australia’s Kieren Perrow.

The match-up between Slater and Florence was viewed by some as a “passing the torch” event. Slater, who is acknowledged as the greatest surfer in the sport, isn’t sure if he’ll commit to a full season in 2012. John John Florence, on the other hand, is just 19-years-old and has a long and promising career ahead of him.

Before the event, Slater said:

“I see John John as the guy to beat in this contest. He’s got three 10′s already. He lives right here and surfs here every day. If I were to lose to him, there would be no shame in that.”

Florence almost beat Slater, too. With just 8 minutes left Slater trailed his protege by 16 points. Slater was able to hit two consecutive waves to score a 9.7 and a 7.83 to beat Florence with just 46 seconds remaining.

Slater said:

“I was just trying to hold John John off for one more year. This might have been my last chance to get a few waves against him. He’s going to dominate Pipe for the next 20 years.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kelly Slater tees up golfing future

GOLF??? - "Well then," says Kelly Slater. "Now we're talking."

The world's top surfer is on the North Shore of Oahu, signing posters for the Pipeline Masters. Described breathlessly -- but rather accurately -- as the Superbowl of Surfing, Pipe is scheduled to begin on Thursday in life-threatening, jaw-dropping waves peaking at 18 feet.

Heaving swells will dump their loads on a shallow reef, turning Pipe into a gladiator's pit. With thousands of howling spectators on the sand, man-on-man heats carry the sub-plot of everyone just wanting to get out alive.

Ambulances will be on standby. Medical staff shall be in abundance.

Slater admits the prospect of rocking and rolling at Pipe fills him with a curious mix of anxiety, excitement and outright fear and so seems relieved when conversation turns to a more genteel pursuit, the good walk spoiled.

Slater is so dedicated to the noble yet confounding game of golf, and so proficient, that he has an itch to play professionally when he quits his current day job as the greatest surfer of all.

"I like golf, I love it, I work hard on it and actually I'd like to become..."

A professional? Go on, say it. You want to become a professional. The 39-year-old raises an eyebrow: can we be trusted with such privileged information?

Just say it. It is written all over his beaming face. Slater dreams about tackling the biggest names on the USPGA Tour and here is why: he's a born competitor. A self-described perfectionist. A performer.


As fit as 10 fiddlers, Slater has a golf handicap of two. Reuters watched him play 18 holes at the Arnold Palmer-designed Turtle Bay course and make no mistake, he can play.

Natural gifts are at his disposal: the agility, physical strength and fitness that Craig Stadler might have benefited from. The discipline and dedication that one of his more colorful playing partners, John Daly, never quite gripped and ripped.

The last two occasions he played the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he beat his partner, USPGA Tour regular Pat Perez.

When he partnered Simon Dyson to win The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on The Old Course at St Andrews in 2009, it barely rated a mention. Everyone assumed the Englishman carried him. Everyone assumed wrong. The most calm figure walking down the 18th fairway was Slater.

He's played with Daly, Darren Clarke, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson. He's sidled up to Ernie Els on a driving range and hit balls without feeling misplaced.

Go on, admit it. You want to play at least one professional event before your time is done.

"I do think about it," he says. "Funnily enough, I just did an interview with the Golf Channel: they're doing a special for Christmas and the three golfers they followed were me, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

"It's coming out Christmas Day. Point is, I'm pretty entrenched in the golf community now, even if it isn't at the competitive level yet.

"It's about the personal challenge for the moment but I would like to maybe compete in the future. There are these vague dreams in my head about it. The trouble would be the amount of time it would take to be good and confident enough.


"There's a ridiculous amount of work that goes into it. I'd have to practice as much as I surfed when I was growing up. All the time I spend at the beach now, I'd have to spend on the golf course. To play those tour guys, even just one or two times, I'd have to be able to completely trust myself: trust my swing, not let any doubts get in my head. I'm not there yet.

"The Champions Tour might be my best bet but I'd have to wait till I'm 55 for that. Only the established guys get to play as soon as they turn 50. They don't want some unknown guy who's practiced for 30 years getting on and everyone is like, 'shoot, the guy we've never heard of from Oklahoma is better than anyone'.

"It would take a lot of dedication but I'm putting a lot of time into my golf. I think anyone, when they do something once, they want to become masterful at it."

Slater glides around Turtle Bay. His swing is smooth and uncomplicated. He has a baseball grip, a rarity among elite players who prefer overlapping or interlocking, but Bob Estes has forged a long career with the same ten-finger technique so it can be done.

A double-jointed back is a god-send for Slater in both surfing and golf: he has looseness and coil to spare. Text book stance. Effortless backswing. A follow-through worth photographing.

A short iron sucks back a couple of meters. The broom stick putter works well enough. He is attracted to the internal warfare that rages inside a man during a round of golf, the odd similarities of courage needed to take off on a 20-foot wave or sink a two-foot putt.

"I've played with almost all the US PGA guys except for Tiger," Slater says. "I've played with Stricker, played in a group with Darren Clarke at St Andrews, Dustin Johnson, had a couple of rounds with John Daly.


"First time I ever played with a pro, I was in Vegas. I went and played with a buddy called Sandy Armour. His brother is Tommy Armour III, their grandfather is one of the absolute legends of golf. Tommy was on tour.

"First hole, I was so nervous I sliced it so far right that it was crazy. Second shot, I hit it way left into deep rough. It was a par four. Third shot, I hacked it up to about 50-feet from the pin. I holed the 50-footer for par, which was pretty funny, but really it was pretty ugly and it was just the nerves of being in a different environment.

"That's what can happen when you don't completely trust yourself. But I do feel like I can hold my own. I actually beat my pro straight-up two years in a row at the Pebble Beach event so when I get it going, I can go, but that was me having a couple of great days and him having a couple of bad days. If we both had great days, he'd beat me by three or four strokes."

Slater's most immediate assignment is inside the liquid Colosseum of Pipeline. To say nothing over 18 holes could be as nerve-racking would be to overlook the essence of golf. A short putt can be as excruciating as a vertical takeoff in its own way.

As Lee Trevino said, the pressure of a ten-dollar putt when there's only five in your pocket. There are precedents for swapping sports. Grand slam tennis champion Ivan Lendl tried to make it to the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, but came up short in qualifying.

Australian Scott Draper, though, pulled it off, playing Davis Cup tennis and earning a start in his national golf championship. A master of mind games, patience and self-control, Slater might be better placed than most.

Michael Jordan made a lunge at professional baseball in his post-basketball years but only because his real passion, the good walk spoiled, wasn't up to scratch.

Ever played with Jordan? "No," Slater grins. "I'll wait till he gets a little better."