Last May, Team Colavita traveled to Tucson, Ariz., to train for our first race, the Tour of the Gila. The team was short one rider, and we invited a young Canadian cyclist to join us for the event. Jasmin Glaesser was in Tucson to do a little winter training on the desert roads, though her main focus is track cycling. So the team took her to Gila, where her talent and poise shined. Glaesser was asked to join Colavita-espnW as a full-time teammate. Glaesser's speed and power has earned her a berth to the London Games, where she will represent Canada in track cycling's team pursuit event.
Glaesser is a third-year math major at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where she is hard at work developing a new equation. It goes something like this:
1 rookie + 2 world championship medals = 1 Olympic berth.
Glaesser, 19, ventured into cycling at 15 when a barrage of injuries as high school runner plagued her athletic progression.
"I saw a chiropractor, and he told me to pick another sport," Glaesser said.
Glaesser's father, a computing science professor at Simon Fraser, owned a road bike and it intrigued his daughter enough save up to buy her own. "There was an indoor velodrome nearby with a local learn-to-ride program, so that's how I started."
And start she did. Canadian Cycling Association track coach Richard Wooles said in a Canadian news broadcast that Glaesser's learning curve has been fast and steep. "She's always shown potential, but I didn't know we would get her to this level so fast."
Local coaches noticed Glaesser's strength and talent, and soon the mentoring and support began.
"Being in the sport at a fairly young age, there are a lot of people willing to help out along the way," Glaesser said, acknowledging all the rides to races and coaching help she received along the way. Assistance for which Glaesser was all the more grateful because she wasn't even allowed to compete for Canada at the time.
Born in Germany, Glaesser's family moved to Coquitlam, B.C., when she was 8. Glaesser needed to go through the legal process to become a permanent resident of Canada. Ever the mathematician, Glaesser calculated the wait time for the paperwork and the timeline of her Olympic dreams. The probability of having her citizenship approved in time for Olympic qualification didn't provide the best odds if she waited until her 18th birthday -- the legal age for Canadian citizenship. So Glaesser took a gamble and sent her paperwork in at 17. The process took a year and a half, and Glaesser met the age requirement and secured her rank as a Canadian in September of 2011, just before the Pan American Games. There, Glaesser won gold in the team pursuit -- a roughly 3 1/2 minute all-out sprint done in a time trial fashion with three teammates -- with fellow B.C. athletes Laura Brown and Stephanie Roorda.
Six months later, Glaesser found herself at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia, winning two medals -- bronze in the team pursuit (with teammates Tara Whitten and Gillian Carleton) and silver in the individual women's points race. The team pursuit trio then went on to win silver at the test event held at the Olympic velodrome in London.
As for a Canadian team pursuit victory this summer, the odds are definitely in Glaesser's favor. "Jasmin is a phenomenal young girl, and she's got a very bright future," Wooles said.
While Glaesser's physical talents are evident in her results, perhaps her greatest asset is her perspective. "During the citizenship issue, where I waited over a year to compete, that was really frustrating and having been through that, I am able to appreciate it so much more now."
Taking her talent for granted is not in Glaesser's nature. In fact, she measures her physical and mental strength by being unafraid to set the bar high.
"You have to dare to dream big ... when you start being afraid of failure, that's where it can be detrimental. Keep positive, keep focused, push the barriers of what you think is possible. That's when all the limits fall away," Glaesser said.
Of course, daring to dream big isn't always easy.
"I've only been home for 10 days this year," Glaesser said of her demanding training schedule; the Canadian national track team is based at the Home Depot Center velodrome in Los Angeles.
Even those who stand on the podium at world championships face pangs of inhibition. For Glaesser, those are exactly the times when trying is the one thing an athlete must do. "I always feel like there are moments where your mind tells you 'I can't do this' and those are the times you have to say I'm going to try, I'm going to do my best. Trying is going to make me better. If you have even the slightest possibility you have to try."