The Road to Whistler: Rebecca Dussault

November 2, 20091
Rebecca Dussault
Rebecca Dussault, racing to victory at US Nationals

After proving her talent as a junior racer, Rebecca Dussault hung up her skis for several years between 1999 and 2003 in order to focus on her family.  After returning to racing in 2004 she found that she still had the talent, love for the sport, and a mind for the competition.  Since then she has set her focus on national and international titles – not only in nordic skiing but also in winter and summer off-road triathlons, mountain running, and other adventure races.

Since her return to racing, Rebecca has earned eight titles at U.S. Nationals, won multiple Super Tour titles, placed second and third at the ITU Winter Triathlon Worlds, and competed in the 2006 Torino Olympics.   Last season she won the FIS Marathon Cup, the American Birkebeiner, the 30km race at Canadian Nationals, and the Xterra Winter National Championships.

Rebecca is living in Gunnison, CO, with her husband Sharbel and her two sons, Tabor and Simeon. Fresh off a 10th place finish at the Xterra Summer World Championships in Hawaii, she took a pause from her responsibilities as mother, wife, and professional athlete to answer some questions for Faster Skier.

Rebecca takes a run through the mountains of Colorado
A run through the mountains of Colorado

FS: You have done a lot of traveling in the last year or two  – I saw that just this summer you were in Peru, Mexico, Austria and China, as well as several places in the States – how do you balance training, family, and rest in order to keep your mind and body healthy?

RD: It is a miracle each and everyday to pull-of the juggling act of family, training, travel and racing.  I have always been one to keep my priorities straight in the big picture and in the day-to-day implementation.  It has been helpful to have as usual the awesome support of my husband who takes a huge part of the load so I can be a mother-athlete at the elite level in several sports.  As funny as it may sound to some, my load feels a little lighter than usual because my oldest son is attending a private school for this Olympic year, which relieves me temporarily of being his home-school teacher.  My training has not been nor ever will be up to the highest standards because I am sure that I would have to compromise my true vocation as wife and mother.  I do what I can to make each training session very high quality.

FS: As a multi-sport athlete, how do you juggle training for so many events?

Training for triathlons
Training for triathlons

RD: I think I would call it “multi-sport tasking!”  This summer has been a very different one for me because I raced all summer long on the Pro Circuit for Xterra triathlon as well as a four-day stage adventure race in China.  These experiences certainly called for a different kind of training than I am used to but nonetheless should prove to be beneficial in ski racing.  I enjoyed having race performance goals through the long summer months of training and feel that I kept my competitive side sharper than ever.  I am a swimmer from back in the day and I’ve always run and mountain biked as part of my ski training, so it was a matter of doing more of these activities and less weight training and rollerskiing.

FS: What specifically will you do to sharpen yourself for ski racing this fall?

RD: Several weeks ago, I made a switch to more ski specific training to prepare for the upcoming ski schedule.  I will try to bring up my high-end cardio capacity for shorter races and start doing some important technique ingraining since we already have plenty of snow to ski on close to home.  I am also teaching a ski conditioning class at the gym and have begun to frequent the weight room.

Dussault edges out Holly Brooks of APU for the American Birkebeiner title in 2009
Dussault (right) edges out Holly Brooks of APU for the American Birkebeiner title in 2009

FS: What are your goals for the early season races, and how are you preparing for them?

RD: My goals are to build on my success from last year, which snowballed into a great season. My goal is to make the 2010 Olympic Team. I look forward to racing in some new locations like Bozeman and returning to some that I really enjoy like Vernon, B.C. It will be exciting to have the Olympic buzz surrounding the whole of the racing. If this plan doesn’t play out then I will be competing for the gold in Winter Triathlon World Championships in Norway.

FS: What would you like to accomplish in Vancouver that you feel you did not accomplish in Torino?

RD: I would like to be a healthy athlete in this Olympic year.  Last go around I struggled greatly with some sinus and induced asthma symptoms that nearly kept me from making the team.  I hope to be less stressed and more prepared to race head to head with the best in the world.   I believe as the Olympic Motto states that, “it is not to win but to take part, not to conquer but to have fought well.”  We would all like to win but I also want to be remembered for the manner in which I conducted myself in qualifying for and competing in the greatest physical competition on earth.

Dussault skiing toward a victory in the Xterra Winter National Triathlon
Dussault skiing toward a victory in the Xterra Winter National Triathlon

FS: You took a break from ski racing for a couple years.  Do you think that renewed your passion for the sport and for racing in general?

RD: Each time I’ve taken a break (which for those of you counting know I’ve just come out of retirement number two) I get a renewed desire to push myself and to enjoy the challenging lifestyle of an elite athlete.   I also seem to come back very strong so that is motivating to me.  I see how daunting it can to regain top shape, but I find the joy in the journey and my family appreciates that it gives us a goal and mission.  Let me not kid you though, it is such a huge undertaking for a mother-athlete.

FS: You’ve written, on your blog, that you would like to have several more children.  But recently you have found a passion for multi-sport racing such as off-road and winter triathlons.  Will you try to merge these ambitions, or will one have to go on a back burner for a while?

RD: After this season of ski racing my competitive athletics will definitely be on the back burner.  We certainly would like to have more children and are always open to life in our marriage. I will always be open to God’s calling in my life to direct where my talents from Him should be used.  Perhaps in the future it will be racing again or coaching.  Though deep inside, I am ready to write a new chapter of life on my own organic/sustainable ranch with my family.  This is the large-scale dream we will tackle next so stay tuned and come visit for a ski!

The Dussault Family
The Dussault Family

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