When Brittany Webster’s name appeared atop a list of results this past weekend, it wasn’t for Canmore’s Frozen Thunder. Instead, Webster replaced snow with sand and finished as the first amateur female in the 2014 XTerra Off-Road World Championships on the north shores of Maui, Hawaii Oct. 26.
Webster always had an interest in triathlons, as she loved both cycling and running. While she doesn’t particularly enjoy swimming, the additional challenge attracted the 26-year-old.
Turned onto the XTerra racing series by a friend, Webster jumped into the Canmore XTerra triathlon on Aug. 8, where she earned a starting position at the World Championships after she claimed the top female spot. Once qualified, it was an easy decision to attend the Championships.
Webster is no stranger to success in skiing. She’s seen four top-tens at the World Junior and U-23 Championships, numerous podiums at Canadian Nationals, and a trip to Sochi for the 2014 Olympics earlier this year.
Given her results on skis, her off-snow success was not surprising.
In an email, Webster wrote that adjusting to the warm and wet conditions of Hawaii was challenging for someone who is accustomed to the dry and cool climate of the Canadian Rockies.
“My first interval workout was on the track and I lied (sic) down in the sprinkler system on the baseball field afterwards just praying I would cool off. It was an important experience because it made me realize how much I needed to drink if I wanted to last three hours in the heat,” she wrote.
Come race day, Webster and roughly 700 other competitors faced a rough ocean as they began the first stage of the competition — a 1.5 k swim. The warm Hawaii waters were not as welcoming as one might expect. According to Webster, she and her fellow competitors faced swells of five to six feet.
“The waves were some of the biggest XTerra had ever seen and there were guys running out of the water back to the start… a few dropped out for sure. Swimming is not my forte, but embracing challenge is. I pretended I was surfing and that kept me smiling instead of panicking,” she wrote.
Once she exited the tumultuous waters, Webster was faced with a 32 k bike on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains.
According to 2014 Olympian, the mountain bike was challenging due to the vertical terrain and slick trail. While Webster managed to maintain control throughout the majority of the 32 k course, on the final turn she flew off her bike. The result was a tweaked knee.
Webster shook-off the fall and continued to the 10 k running portion of the race, but her pace was slowed and the pain in her knee inhibited her speed on many of the course’s uphills.
“I bailed on the last corner of the bike and tweaked my knee pretty good, so I actually had to walk all of the uphills on the run until the halfway point when the pain began to subside,” she wrote.
Despite the injury, Webster finished as the top female amateur competitor. Furthermore, with a time of 3:17:36 she placed 160th overall and would have been 18th in the professional female category. Her time of 47:45 in the 10 k run was the tenth fastest women’s time on the day.
As for the tweaked knee, Webster explained that in the end it wasn’t a serious injury.
“Nothing ice, massage and a hair cut at the Paul Mitchell tent couldn’t fix,” she wrote.
Webster wrote that preparing for the World Championship triathlon was an excellent cross-training opportunity because it allowed her to diversify her training program. She explained that her body doesn’t respond to the same rollerski and strength exercises that it used to, and that adding swimming and biking into her repertoire has increased her fitness levels.
“A different response stimulus can go a long way and I quickly found myself, after recovering from much calve (sic) and shoulder soreness, that I was getting fitter and it was translating right back into skiing,” she wrote.
Last winter Webster and fellow Canadian Amanada Ammar petitioned Cross Country Canada to earn a spot on the 2014 Canadian Olympic Team. The two were not initially included on the team roster but after FIS allotted more starting positions to Canada, Webster and Ammar were named to the team and competed in Sochi.
Webster, who took time off from skiing in 2012 and returned in 2013, will compete with the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) after skiing for Team Mito last year. She is no stranger to AWCA, however, having trained with the club before her stint with Team Mito.
Webster explained that she is excited to return to the AWCA in the upcoming season.
“I have really missed being on a team and being able to support teammates of mine. I’ve also missed working alongside Chris, Mike and Stef. Those guys are so awesome, and the opportunity to work with them and the amazing people that are on the Academy made me want to commit to the AWCA,” she wrote.
There’s also another difference in Webster’s life going into the winter season. Adding to the slew of engagements and weddings in the ski community, she and AWCA race director Mike Cavaliere are engaged. Their wedding is set for next September at the Boundary Ranch.
“We are both animal lovers and have backgrounds with horses, love the ranch life, so it seemed fitting to have it there!” she wrote.
Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.