Orchard's Success at Xterra Pan Am Championships bodes well for Worlds

By Paddi S.

Last we saw Lizzie she had just taken out the Xterra Asia Pacific Title along with the Asian Tour. Now, after the winter break from racing she’s finished a strong second at the Xterra Pan Am Championships.

‘Utah provided the perfect opportunity to blow those cobwebs out of the legs, and gain race fitness before World Champs which are in a few weeks’ time’.

Lizzie was confident that training over the last months had gone well, but was unsure how Snowbasin’s Altitude would affect her performance. With the swim in a reservoir above 1500m and a split transition, there was over 1000m elevation gain during the course, topping out above 2200m.

‘My partner and I travelled over one week before the event to try and acclimatise, but with many of my competitors living at Altitude, I was expecting to suffer a lot more than the others. It was definitely a factor included in my race tactics’.   

The pro men had a 1min head start on the pro women, some of which were clearly finding it hard to settle in.

‘I was surprised to find myself catching and passing a number of the pro men, even while concentrating on not red-lining too early in the race’.

Lizzie had the 4th fastest female swim and quickly moved into 3rd after T1. With the Pan Am Championships doubling as the American Championships, there were large crowds on the course and no shortage of dirt bikes filming the action on the trails.

‘It was helpful to have so much encouragement on those long hills, and I was getting time checks the whole way’ said Lizzie.

Orchard had caught 2nd just before the last downhill section and moved into runner up position before T2. Lizzie is known for her lightning quick second transition so had pulled away further moving out onto the run – her strongest of the 3 disciplines.

‘You’re faced with basically a wall to run up straight off the bat, which was pretty brutal, but rewarded with fun slalom descents down ski runs towards the finish. I managed to knock off 2mins deficit during the 10km which I’m really happy with’.

This was Orchard’s 5th top 2 finish for Xterra in 2016. Such a strong showing is surely indicative of an exciting race in Maui, late October.

‘Yeah, I’m definitely excited now for World Champs. Many other Pro’s are staying at altitude to prepare but it’s back to work for me! Of course Maui is at sea-level which I’m more accustomed too, and it’s usually pretty hot which is another strength of mine, so it will be interesting to see what further gains I can make’.

2016 has been the year where Lizzie was come into her own, another New Zealand Podium could be on the cards.

Follow Lizzie at
instagram: lizzienzl
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