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Tue 10th Dec 2019
© Bart Stephani
Helle Frederiksen Interview
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Wednesday 22nd October 2014

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Denmark's Helle Frederiksen ( earned one of the biggest cheques of the 2014 triathlon season, when she collected the $100,000 payout for winning the Hy-Vee Elite Cup 5150 Championship in Des Moines in August.

This past Saturday Helle finished second in the ETU Middle Distance Championships at Challenge Paguera-Mallorca, and still has her sights on another big result (and possibly another $100,000...), at the inaugural Challenge Bahrain in December.

I sat down with the Uplace-BMC athlete in Mallorca to talk about the highs and lows of her year so far - and confirm that the London 2012 Olympian won't be targetting Rio 2016.

Helle Frederiksen ©Bart StephaniFirstly, congratulations Helle on I guess the biggest highlight of your year so far, getting engaged?

It is! It's a big highlight, I knew it would come one day but I just didn't expect it to be now. I'm just very happy and very blessed that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with Ben.

You've had a great season with the 5150 win at the Hy-Vee Elite Cup certainly the biggest victory (and a $100,000 purse). Can you tell us how your race went there, and just how big a deal it was to win on that day?

It was pretty huge - to be honest, I didn't train for that race as I'd been focussing on Mont Tremblant (Ironman 70.3 World Championships), the week after. I'd been based in Boulder for three months, the altitude training seemed to agree with me and I was feeling really good, everything was smooth and right on track. Then on race day, it all came together. I was leading on the bike at 25km, and then when Jodie Swallow and Alicia Kaye caught up to me I could still stay around them. When we got to T2, I just thought that this was going to be my day, that I was the fastest runner there. It felt surreal.

For a race like that, everybody comes that believes they can do anything there, so to win it really was a big deal for me.

From Des Moines to Mont Tremblant a week later, and from one extreme to the other with a penalty and resulting DNF at the 70.3 World's while in a great position. You said you lost it 'mentally' - can you expand on that?

We flew straight from Des Moines to Mont Tremblant and everything was set up perfectly. I have done Olympic distance then half distance so many times now and it really works for me, so we wanted to do the same for the World's. I was feeling good, the swim was great, I was out of the water next to Jodie Swallow, and we then had a group of five on the bike with Daniela Ryf, Annabel Luxford and Mary Beth Ellis. We were gaining time on those behind - it was really hard, honest racing and I was working hard and then at about 60km we had a hard climb followed by a descent. I have to work a bit harder on the descent as a smaller athlete, and as we can into a technical section and I had my head down and I looked up and saw I was maybe eight metres back on Jodie Swallow - the marshall was next to me and gave me the red card.

Helle Frederiksen ©Bart Stephani

I was thinking I'm in the right position, feeling amazing, we've dropped Annabel Luxford and I'm maybe the fastest runner - I thought I'm going to get the podium here, a dream come true, see then penalty and think "it's game over". I'd buried myself to be ready for the race, and then suddenly emotion kicked in and I couldn't handle it - I knew I was at 8 metres, but it really was not my intention to do it. When I look back now I should have turned it around, and seen those four minutes before T2 as a break... but I let my emotion get in the way, I didn't work hard enough on the remaining 30km of the bike, and in my head I was thinking "I've lost that podium", and so that was very tough.

But, I have learned so much from it - how to deal with those thoughts, if something like that happened again. I think it was still only my sixth 70.3, I'm still quite new at the distance and at the end of day we all make mistakes.

Was Challenge Paguera always in the plan, racing in the European Champs?

I've always wanted to race a Challenge event, have heard so many good things about it, and as a bonus it was the ETU Championships and so having come from an ITU racing background, it was like going back to my roots and racing for Denmark.

Helle Frederiksen at Challenge Paguera ©

Also, one of my main goals is Challenge Bahrain in December, and so this breaks it up nicely as the though of not racing for three months without racing and already late in the season, was mind-blowing, so it is really a step which keeps the motivation and the drive going towards Bahrain. It's a nice place, a beautiful island and I think they are doing an amazing job for a first time event.

Next year will be the start of the Olympic qualifying points cycle for ITU athletes - do you have any thoughts of possibly racing for Denmark again in an Olympic Games?

I'm done with the Olympic Distance, ITU racing. It has been an amazing chapter of my life and I'm very very proud to be an Olympian and have raced for Denmark in London, but this is a new chapter in my career. I enjoy the non-draft racing, the longer distance racing where it is more 'your game', and I think maybe as you get older an more mature as a racer that is the direction you tend to go towards. There are still may things out there that really motivates me - that's what gets me out of bed each morning because it is still unknown, and that's what is so exciting. So no, it's going to be non-draft racing - I don't know about Ironman yet - but only if I can get so strong on that distance that I can be in contention to be up there near the front.

Helle Frederiksen ©Delly Carr /

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