Jordan Jones is a man of many interests. He is a pro triathlete, successful business owner, former Denver police officer and ran a 14:25 5k at Boston University. Jordan is on the start list for Hy-Vee and will be competing for the huge paycheck next month.
Slowtwitch: Thanks for the time Jordan. So were you relieved to make it into Hy-Vee?
Jordan Jones: Relieved is an apt description. I was ranked well going into my last qualifying race at Boulder Peak but I had a terrible race and immediately afterwards I thought I had blown my shot at qualifying. Thankfully, I still earned enough points at Boulder Peak to get my Hy-Vee spot.
ST: You raced at Miami, Washington DC and Boulder. Why did you decide to race those events?
Jordan: I thought about the qualifying system over the winter and made Hy-Vee my goal for the first half of the season. The Hy-Vee qualifying races awarded varying points, 750, 500, or 250 for the winner. I decided that the 250 point races didn’t have enough points and the 750 point races would be extremely competitive so I focused on the 500 point races. I stuck to the US circuit since flying to Europe is so expensive and even more expensive factoring in the work I’d have to miss.
ST: How do you think you performed at those races?
Jordan: Good, very good, then poor. 5150 Miami I finished 9th which doesn’t sound impressive but the field was very deep and tightly bunched. 5150 Washington D.C. was my best race and I finished 4th there. I was 2nd off the bike then Tim Reed and David Thompson ran me down. Boulder Peak was a poor race for me. I had a tough time where I was dealing with an Achilles injury and just racing to get what points I could grab to get into Hy-Vee. Now I’m healthy and pumped up for the rest of the season.
ST: A few years back you were working full-time as a Denver police officer. Why the change?
Jordan: Yes, up to 2007 I was working patrol on the midnight shift in District 6 which is downtown Denver. My plan was to get 5 years on patrol under me then I would be able to put in for a detective position. My goal was to become a homicide detective which was my dream job growing up. Something along the lines of Al Pacino in Heat would be about right. I loved working patrol though, I liked the people I worked with, the constant action, and the flow of the shift.
Then the powers that be transferred the youngest officers by badge number to the airport to work midnights for a year. Unfortunately I was on that list. Sitting around just biding my time wasn’t for me. I had earned my triathlon elite license and had the idea for a business that I believed could be successful. After a couple of weeks at the airport I put in my two weeks.
ST: Did you ever get to chase down any suspects?
Jordan: I had a few foot chases. It’s a challenge to go chasing people down with all the gear on while trying to call things out over the radio. My partner knew I was fast so the plan was always to let me chase them down while he called it out over the radio.
There was one particularly memorable chase. I was still in training, fresh out of the academy, which meant that I could be fired for any mistake that I made. On a hot summer Sunday morning we arrested a guy on a number of felony charges then brought him back to the precinct holding cell while we did the paperwork. While we’re working on that, he complains that the handcuffs are too tight so my field training officer sends me to adjust them. Little did I know he had a scheme up his sleeve. On his walk in, this guy had the guile to map out his run back out. As soon as I put the key in, he bolts right past me and out of the cell! Now since it was so hot, all of the doors to the station were open. He manages to run out of the station and I’m thinking, “I really better catch this guy or I’m not going to have a job tomorrow!”
Remarkably, he made it over the 10 foot fence like it was a mere hurdle and I went scrambling after him. I chased him onto Colfax Ave., the biggest street in Denver. I caught him just as he was jumping into a car that he had managed to carjack at a red light. At least he earned himself a few more charges for his escapade. I still have some scars on my forearm from that fence.
ST: Did you have reservations about giving up a steady income and set a career path for triathlon, a sport known for everything but those?
Jordan: Absolutely, I was nervous making the jump. All in all, I had a career that I liked so part of me wondered what I was thinking to give that up. I had a plan though and that plan involved starting a business just as much as it involved racing triathlons at the professional level. I raced tris well and had been a good D1 runner at Boston University but I realized that I likely wouldn’t develop fast enough to make a living from racing.
I think that a select few budding triathletes show enough talent to go all in on the sport. An honest self assessment made be see that I would take 5-7 years to develop and that I needed a sustainable long term plan. Athletically, I had been in a similar position before, going from a walk-on in college to team captain so I was confident that I could develop myself once again but I knew that it would take time.
On the business side, I studied economics in college and have always had an interest in business. I had noticed that ski shops in Vail and Aspen always carry current year demo skis and at the end of the season they didn’t have an effective way to sell that inventory. My idea was to start an internet based business that would solve that problem. I would buy the skis and build a website that was custom tailored to selling them.
ST: And that’s how you make a living now?
Jordan: I’ve been very fortunate and the business, Powder7.com, has taken off. We now have a full time staff of four with annual revenue over $1 million. My wife, Amy, left her job when Powder7 started so it’s a joint effort between us. It’s always a challenge to balance the daily grind of training and work but thankfully we’ve built a staff that is passionate about skiing and does a fantastic job. We have a beautiful shop, offices, and warehouse just 5 minutes from home in Golden, CO so it’s a nice setup. We continue to sell demo skis and have expanded into being a dealer for many ski brands as well so we carry a large selection of new skis.
ST: Do you envision Powder7 ever expanding to triathlon?
Jordan: Our focus at Powder7 is on skiing. We have expanded into clothing from Patagonia and also carry Smith Optics but only because of their link to skiing. We’ll stay focused on the ski industry, it’s large and challenging in its own right.
Amy took over Riptide Multisports two years ago which is a Colorado based event company that puts on triathlons and running races. That’s the extent of our business interest in triathlon and Amy is the person that runs Riptide. Between Powder7, training, racing, and attempting to be a good husband, it’s a good thing that Amy has a business sense of her own to lessen my load.
ST: How are things going on the sponsorship front?
Jordan: I have two sponsors. Riptide Multisports has a small team that I represent to promote its races including the Littlefoot Triathlon which I love racing every spring. Rocket Science Sports is my other sponsor. They make the wetsuit that keeps mortal swimmers like me in sight of the super swimmers; as well as my white 20BPM racesuit. I also want to thank Trek and Wheat Ridge Cyclery for helping me get onto a Speed Concept this year.
I would enjoy working with one or two additional companies. What I really need is a chocolate sponsor, a few cases of chocolate a week would save me some money.
ST: What is your best advice for age groupers?
Jordan: Vary your training intensity. Hit enough time at or above race pace. Then when you recover, really make sure it’s easy. Don’t spend too much time in the grey 'kind of hard' zone.
ST: Lastly what's your goal for Hy-Vee?
Jordan: It’s time for me to get out and have a good one. My last couple of races have been duds. Now my training is going very well and I’m looking to crack the top ten at Hy-Vee.
ST: Best of luck my friend.
You can check out Jordan’s online ski shop here: http://www.powder7.com/