The Quiet Jason West

2023 was a big year for triathlon. We saw former champions bow out and new champions arrive in style. We saw the first ever separate IRONMAN World Championship and the PTO started to figure out its model a little more.

With most things in life 2023 brought with it a lot more stability post pandemic. People were able to travel more freely and racing was back to its somewhat normal self. It was also the first time in 3 years that we had an idea on not only where the industry was but where professional athletes were when it came to a somewhat full normal season. Sure, we had stuff in 2022 but it was sort of still all over the place and people were dusting off cobwebs for most of it.

Once the dust settled, at the end of 2023 it was Jason West that would end up third in the world. That’s right. Jason West, the really soft spoken kid that runs like a mother @#$@!$ing cheetah at races. Yeah. That guy took third in the very independent PTO ranking system (get more details here about the PTO ranking system if you want them).

Let me be clear for a second. It’s not that I think Jason isn't 3rd in the world material. It’s just funny to me that a company can, on its own, go ahead and say, “We are the true World Ranking System!”

Let’s get back to West. So with three wins, three other podiums, and two other top five finishes to his name, West had an outstanding year. But it clearly was the two second place finishes in the stacked PTO race fields that helped with his final ranking. I would say the only disappointment in 2023 was West getting sick and missing out on 70.3 Worlds in Finland. I'm talking super sick – for a guy who only weighs 140 lbs to drop 10 lbs in a week is pretty sick.

Truth be told, up until last week I really haven't spent much time with Jason. I have seen him at races a bunch but outside of yelling a time split or yelling “GO GO GO!” during a race (like I do for almost any athlete) that was about the extent of my interactions with him. He was always nice pre and post race and I always liked seeing him do so well because I would admire his soft spoken voice he seemed to have. Come to think of it, I feel like I would cheer him on via his wife more than him. I have known Jess for like 12 years and when she would post about his victory I always send her a message of “YES!” or “SO RAD!!!”

I was approached by Jason’s agent Alicia Kaye about a month ago about some photography work and just some general advice about and his new partners. In that conversation I told her that 100% we would do a story on him. So with a lot of back and forth and trying to figure out timing and ease to Jason, we decided we would go out to Boulder and pray for good weather. Turns out that more people were praying for snow. Because the weather for biking and even running outside was not on the table :) But we did get a great look at his pain cave and Jason did cook us a couple of really great meals.

Getting back to my original point – 2023 was a big year for the sport, and even though Jason doesn’t think it was a huge deal for him, it really was.

Anytime an athlete goes head to head with the best athletes in the world and takes a podium – not once, but six times, three of those on the stop step in the same year – it's life changing for that athlete. And that’s exactly what West did in 2023. Jason has now become a top paid athlete in the sport. With that, everyone wants to talk to him, and companies now bid for his time and logo placement, and his bank account shows that he doesn't need to go race so he can pay rent next month. And while I think Jason is happy about that.. I really believe that it doesn't really matter as much as it does for him to do what he likes. Train, eat, spend time with his wife, and go race really hard. At the end of the day Jason is a total homebody.

In diving into Jason’s 2024, let’s talk about some of the sponsors he kept and new sponsors he teamed up with. Sure, some of these sponsors have to do with money; I think anyone would be lying to you if they said that wasn’t the case. But in the end money truly wasn't the only reason why Jason either stayed or left with certain companies. Jason values relationships; he also values things that work for him. And in the end, “almost no amount of money” can get him to switch from something that works for him to something that doesn't just because they are willing to pay him.

Sponsors Staying from 2023:
Blue Seventy
Precision Hydration

New Sponsors for 2024:
Certified Piedmontese

Sponsors that Didn’t Make the Cut for 2024
Rudy Project
Ellevo Wheels

I’m most surprised by the lack of a shoe sponsor. And I think that this just illustrates the point that no amount of money is worth it to Jason for something that doesn't work for him. (PS: Asics, if you are reading this. You should talk to this guy.)

Now why did some of the sponsors change? Probably a lot of reasons. Some were money and some were just wanting to have more control. For example, I know that he, Ventum, and SwissSide want to do a lot in the wind tunnel ASAP. West also wanted to be able to choose his helmet off of those result, so no helmet sponsor. He also wanted to be able to work with a clothing company that specializes in only custom appeal leading him to work with Jakroo. These are just some of the reasons that we talked about in our interview and podcast with him. All of these reasons in my opinion all make sense.

When it comes to racing in 2024 Jason is pretty set on the PTO Tour and 70.3 Worlds. The PTO Tour works really well for him because the company is throwing money around like it grows on trees – as they say, “make hay when the sun shines” and the distance suits him well. And while he won't admit it or, at least dwell on it, he has something to prove when it comes to the 70.3 World title.

Gavin (our new video guy) and I really enjoyed spending time with Jason and his family in the frigid, below zero temps. We enjoyed getting to know him more, and by doing so seeing what the future of our sport looks like. We’re growing with such new young talent. It’s hard to get to know all of them like we got the chance to get to know Jason. I hope we continue to do more of these deeper dives into these athletes here on Slowtwitch.

I believe Jason has the right mindset to be one of the world's best. He also has the drive, the grinding work ethic. But like we all know, you have to have both in order to be one of the best. It will be interesting to watch him go after his goals and we will be for sure cheering him on when we see him.

“GO GO GO!” Jason.