Fueling Performance

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Fueling Athletes

What foods do you think fuel the athletes? Answer: Potatoes, rich in sustainable energy provide for long training sessions and are important before the athlete hits the main stage for their competition.

Capital Press

GMO Spud Sponsors Boise Olympic Cyclist

PARK CITY, Utah — Boise cyclist Kristin Armstrong will head to the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro with the apparent distinction of being the first athlete ever sponsored by a crop bred using biotechnology.

Armstrong will be 43 when she pursues her third Olympic gold medal, competing in the individual women’s time trial.

She’ll also be raising awareness about the nutritional value of potatoes — and Simplot Plant Sciences’ Innate line of genetically modified Russet Burbanks and Ranger Russets in particular.

Marketed under the White Russet label, the first generation of Innate russets contains traits introduced from other potatoes to keep them from browning after cutting, reduce bruising and reduce the formation of a potentially unhealthy chemical, called acrylamide, found in certain fried foods. The second generation of Innate, which awaits approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will include the original traits, plus enhanced cold storage and strong resistance to the destructive late blight pathogen.

“I’ve known folks at Simplot for a long time, and since potatoes are an excellent source of energy and nutrition, the partnership makes sense, especially because White Russet potatoes have health and sustainability benefits,” Armstrong told Capital Press via email. “There’s nothing in these potatoes but potato.”

Armstrong, who works promoting healthy lifestyles with St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center, typically eats potatoes with her meals prior to racing, believing they give her a lift.

“Potatoes give me just the right combination of nutrients and energy, as well as potassium for leg recovery when I need it,” Armstrong said.

When she’s not competing, Simplot spokesman Doug Cole said, Armstrong will pose for photos in a White Russet jersey, and she’ll assist Simplot with a social media presence. Cole said the sponsorship contract with Armstrong will expire some time next year, and the company will re-evaluate it then.

“She’ll be talking about how she uses potatoes in her training diet, and as an athlete and a mom, how a higher quality potato makes a lot of sense,” Cole said.

Armstrong will train in Houston to acclimate to higher humidity prior to racing in Rio.

“I couldn’t be prouder to have the opportunity to once again represent my country in the Olympic games,” Armstrong said. “I am obviously excited to be on the team, and I am totally focused on my training so that I can win another gold medal for Team USA.”

Photo: Olympic cyclist Kristin Armstrong, of Boise, sports a White Russet jersey at the Twilight Criterium race in Boise July 16. Armstrong has been sponsored by Simplot’s Innate Russet Burbank, bred with biotechnology.

John O’Connell

Capital Press

Published on July 19, 2016 11:16AM

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