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Change of Pace
By Bob Young
When Austin Crosby was clobbered hard for the second time in as many nights during a youth hockey tournament in Southern California, he realized he had lost peripheral vision and felt a tingling in his arms. And the cobwebs in his head were all too familiar for the 13-year-old from Phoenix. He later was diagnosed with a concussion — his fourth in just two and a half years.


Austin had once won the fastest-skater trophy in a national youth hockey skills competition in New York, but he couldn’t skate away from the truth. He would have to give up the sport that he loved.


“I didn’t know what to think because I’ve just played hockey my whole life,” said Austin, whose family relocated to Phoenix from Edmonton, Alberta, when he was a toddler. “I was hoping to go really far in hockey — as far as I could go.”


Instead, he could only sit on the bench in his gear and watch his Roadrunners Hockey Organization team compete in the playoffs.


“It was really tough for him the first month after that,” recalled his father Rick. “Sometimes when you have a challenge in life, you just have to move on. That’s what he had to do.”


Turns out Austin would find another love in three sports combined into one exhilarating, exhausting event — a triathlon.


Not long after his son’s last concussion, Rick Crosby was training for a 72-mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe, and Austin asked if he could join him on training rides and the trip to Tahoe.


“I did the first two rides with him on a mountain bike,” Austin said. “Then I tried it once on his road bike and I was like, ‘Man, this is way easier.’”


So he sold his prized carbon-fiber hockey stick for $120, helping him raise enough money to buy a road bike.


The two went out regularly on a 32-mile training loop to prepare for Tahoe, typically taking more than three hours to complete the ride. One day, Austin asked his dad if he could make the loop on his own. He was back at the house in less than two hours. And his time kept dropping every time he went out on the training ride after that.


“I told him I wasn’t riding with him anymore,” Rick remembered, laughing. The two completed the Reno ride, and soon Austin was looking for more cycling events to enter. Then while searching the Internet, he came across a reverse-order sprint triathlon to be held in Anthem, Ariz., not far from the family’s north Phoenix home. “I was like, ‘Oh, triathlons would be so cool,’” he said.


So Austin dived into training, even though his swimming skills were under-developed — to say the least. “All I knew how to do was doggy paddle,” he said, grinning.


 


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Answer the questions in the profiles you see on page 106 and email your answers (and a close-up picture) to communications@usatriathlon.org with “youth profile” in the subject line.


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