This Hungarian transplant has been in the SUP scene for just over a year, but Krisztina Fazekas Zur is no newbie to competitive racing. With multiple World Titles in kayaking and Olympic aspirations, Krisztina is one ripped lady that is sure to make an impact on standup paddling as well. – SC
Tell us about your athletic background.
I have been paddling Olympic kayaks since I was 10 years old. I started in my hometown of Budapest, Hungary and was lucky enough to be on the Hungarian national team from 1997-2009. With the Hungarian team I earned 4 World Champion titles. After getting married to my husband, Rami (2x US kayak Olympian), I joined the USA Canoe and Kayak team in 2010.
2011 was an amazing international season for me with team USA earning 3 gold medals and 1 bronze in the World Cup series, and a silver medal at the World Championships in Hungary. Ever since I moved here [to the US], my husband took the task of coaching me and so far it seems to be working pretty good. My training schedule is pretty grueling; I have 2 paddling workouts every day, along with 90 minutes in the gym 3-4 times a week. I also run, swim and started doing a bit of yoga- it's a full time gig.
How did you get into SUP?
Our great friends from the SUP Café in Long Beach put on a small SUP race and invited us to check it out. I ended up with a board and finished my first race. I wasn't really hooked- it was flat water and slow. Later that year I went to the Battle of the Paddle to watch my husband compete. After watching that race, I was hooked and promised myself that next year I would be in the lineup! After that, I raced SUP and surfski in the SoCal Winter Series.
How's it crossing over into a new sport?
I've really enjoyed crossing over to SUP. I've had a very fast learning curve, as it has many biomechanical similarities to my kayak stroke. The most challenging aspect in SUP for me personally is surfing. I grew up on rivers and lakes, so surfing is a new challenge for me that I look forward to getting better at.
I think the reason I am doing okay in this sport is because I am fit and believe, "what you put in your training you get in the races." So for me, it's all about training hard and training smart!
You won your first Catalina Crossing last year?
I have crossed the Catalina Channel a few times before on a surfski and outrigger, so when I was asked to race it on an SUP I was very excited. I had the first leg of the race. We dropped the board into the water and as soon as I took my first stroke, half a dozen dolphins escorted me. It was my first time paddling with dolphins and they stayed with me for a few minutes- it was amazing!
As for the race, the conditions were pretty brutal. We encountered cold head wind, side chop and cloudy skies, but Suzie [Strazulla] and Julie [Wolfe] kept it fun and they are very strong women. Together we charged on! It's always more fun sharing the experience with your friends. I think once you have a good team, teammates inspire each other and that is the true strength of a team.
What’s up with your SUP classes at NAC?
Last year I started my SUP classes at the NAC (Newport Aquatic Center) and they have picked up in a great way. I try to address most of the training components of an SUP workout combined with SUP racing. The classes consist of long and short intervals, practicing buoy turns and race simulations, and working on stroke technique. It's great fun and the best part is to see my clients' improvement.
Tell us how your 2012 is looking.
I am really looking forward for 2012. It's an Olympic year and my goal is to make it to the Olympic team. I will be training in Newport Beach until end of April. In May I plan to travel back to Hungary and compete in the Hungarian Olympic trials. I can't represent the US in the games, as I am not a US citizen yet.
As far as plans, I really hope to make the team and get to race in the greatest show on earth... and if not, I will be back here in SoCal fully committed to SUP. The Olympic games will be over by mid-August, so I will be ready for every SUP race and will for sure be ready for the Battle of the Paddle. I also have a few ideas about creating my own race board and look forward to my post Olympic SUP career. It's very exciting to know that I have something to look forward to after the Olympic Games- I am very lucky.
Photos by Chris Bishow
To read about Jenny Kalmbach, click here.