We're just two short weeks away from the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, which for the first time in 60 years will be held outside of Europe. Hosted in Louisville, KY, the U.S.-based riders will enjoy a home field advantage this year. Among them will be California-based rider Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team).
"Louisville is great and I'm looking forward to racing worlds there. I have done many USGP weekends there over the years and always enjoyed the courses," said Nash, who will be part of the three-woman squad representing the Czech Republic. "It's nice that we had chance to compete over there this fall and get a feel for the course."
Currently ranked 7th in the UCI rankings, Nash has been getting stronger and faster throughout the season, and even beat defending world champion Marianne Vos in Namur this past December.
"I feel really good right now," said Nash, who was sidelined at the beginning of the season due to a back injury. "It was good to jump into cross little later for two reasons: I was able to get mental break as well as [get in some] really good training this fall. I'm still dealing with my summer injury but things are lot better."
Nash, a four-time Olympian in Nordic skiing and mountain biking, started exeriencing back problems following the London Olympics.
"I had an L5 disk problem in my back and was losing a lot of power to my legs while mtb racing. As soon as I started to work on the problem I felt better and was riding again. I actually did a whole bunch of riding and running in October and November and got a huge base that is carrying me through the cross season," Nash said. "My intensity comes from racing only, and that is why I'm still getting faster. So I guess I can say that I mainly rode for fun and adventure instead of specific training this fall and ended up doing a lot of long rides in the mountains. It was refreshing and beneficial for the cross season."
Following a very strong Kerstperiode, Nash seems to be back among the best and may just stir things up in Louisville. Her previous World Championship performances have been strong, finishing 4th in 2010, third in 2011 (behind Vos and Compton) and 8th in 2012.
"I'm ready to fight for medal but will have to wait and see what happen. I will put up a good fight regardless of the outcome," she said. "I do well at technical races with good elevation change. The harder the conditions, the better for me, but I have done really well on flat dry course like WC in Rome as well. I train for all kinds of terrain and don't just focus on what is good for me because I don't get to pick the course. I want to do well on any course."
In preparation for Worlds, Nash revealed that she's been training in varying conditions and terrain.
"I expect the conditions to be different from the sunny fall day we had there [during the USGP] and so my training includes all kinds of terrain and conditions. Two days ago I rode in Reno on snow and yesterday in Nevada CIty on dirt and 65 degrees. I just don't quite know what to expect from KY and so I'm covering all my bases," she said.
Nash will face some tough competition in Louisville as Vos, Compton, Nikki Harris, Sanne van Paassen, Helen Wyman, and Luna teammate Georgia Gould are all gunning for a medal. But Nash doesn't single out any one rider as her biggest competition.
"I really don't think about [competition] that way. There are so many people that deserve medals, but that is what sport is not about, only 3 women and 3 men will earn the medals," she said. That is not to say that she wouldn't like to see one of those medals up hanging around her neck.
Following Louisville, Nash will take a little time off the bike before getting ready for mountain bike season.
The avid outdoorswoman will soak up some sun in Hawaii before coming back to spend some time in the snow.
"My off seasons are always very active and I mix thing up with lot of skiing, running and other sports that I don't get to do during racing seasons," she said. "I will ski (backcountry, xc and even resort skiing) for most of February and hope to do the Great Ski Race first week of March. That will be my down time and I'm looking forward to it. After that I will start getting back on the bike and getting ready for mtb season."
Nash has high hopes for the coming season. "I would like to win a MTB World Cup. I got very close a couple of times last year," she said. "I want to do well in all my races and enjoy the ride along the way!"
To learn more, follow Nash on the Luna Pro Team website.Also read: Nash goes two for two at Deschutes Brewery Cup; Gould wins the overall USGP series.