podium nhler Mike Zigo­ma­nis Tack­les Triathlon

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Contents Volume 8 Issue 6 - By Suzanne Ze­lazo

Althoughhe is a pow­er­ful cen­tre with fierce of­fen­sive skills, Mike Zigo­ma­nis doesn’t have the av­er­age pro hockey player build. But he’s not your av­er­age nhler. In fact, there’s noth­ing av­er­age about this 32-year- old. Known as much for his con­duct off the ice as on it, Ziggy, as he is af­fec­tion­ately re­ferred to, won the 2013 ahl Man of the Year Award for his con­tri­bu­tions to lo­cal com­mu­nity and char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions. Ear­lier in his ca­reer he won the ohl’s Most Gen­tle­manly Player Award in 2000.

“Gen­tle­man” is an apt ad­jec­tive for Zigo­ma­nis. Apol­o­giz­ing pro­fusely for run­ning just a few min­utes late for our in­ter­view, Zigo­ma­nis emerged from a treat­ment room at the Toronto Ath­letic Club in a post-acupunc­ture calm and sport­ing a beam­ing smile. He is po­lite, per­son­able and down to earth.

Af­ter an ex­cel­lent run with the Mar­lies and the Toronto Maple Leafs, Zigo­ma­nis joins the Rochester Amer­i­cans this sea­son. Hav­ing played al­most 200 games in the nhl, his dec­o­rated ca­reer in­cludes a Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onship win with the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins in 2009. He has also played with the Carolina Hur­ri­canes, the St. Louis Blues, the Phoenix Coyotes, as well many ahl teams.

Zigo­ma­nis fol­lows an ex­cru­ci­at­ing train­ing regime, even dur­ing the off- sea­son. With regular track ses­sions, weight train­ing, skat­ing lessons, Pi­lates and Mok­sha yoga, he trains up­wards of six hours a day. De­spite all the calo­ries need to fuel that out­put, Zigo­ma­nis is a ve­gan. In fact, he grows much of his own food in a ro­bust gar­den at his Toronto home. Cooking most of his meals him­self, Zigo­ma­nis pre­pares a fridge full of meals at the be­gin­ning of each week.

For a man of such breadth and mul­ti­plic­ity, it is fit­ting that the mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary sport of triathlon would ap­peal to him. Last April Zigo­ma­nis added triathlon train­ing to his work­outs. He com­pleted his first one at the Toronto Triathlon Fes­ti­val ( ttf) this past July. Never hav­ing swam be­fore, tar­get­ing a 1,500 m swim in Lake On­tario was no small feat, but one which Zigo­ma­nis tack­led with gusto. He fol­lowed that per­for­mance with the Kingston Long Course Triathlon in Au­gust.

Zigo­ma­nis has a great sense of hu­mour. He laughs as he de­scribes cramp­ing in both quads and then ham­strings just a few kilo­me­tres into the 10 km run at the ttf, and then promptly be­ing passed by a slew of mid­dle-aged women hit­ting their stride. His hu­mil­ity will serve him well in the sport, par­tic­u­larly in Iron­man, which he ad­mits is an even­tual goal.

“Swim­ming,” he con­cedes, “has been a chal­lenge be­cause I’d never been in the open wa­ter be­fore. I have been able to power my­self though most sports that I’ve played, but swim­ming is pure fi­nesse. The harder I push it, the slower I go.”

Train­ing for triathlon has helped Zigo­ma­nis de­velop his en­durance and chal­lenge a sys­tem he wasn’t us­ing as much in hockey.

“In triathlon,” he ex­plains, “you use long-twitch mus­cle fi­bres ver­sus short-twitch. Hockey is far more ex­plo­sive.”

Can he ap­ply what he’s learned from the world of triathlon to his up­com­ing sea­son with the [Rochester] Merks? Ab­so­lutely. “I’m in bet­ter shape start­ing this sea­son from that base train­ing and I’ve learned how to bet­ter fuel my body for com­pe­ti­tion.”

His rig­or­ous train­ing on and off ice and his en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able diet, are mo­ti­vated by more than at­tempts to en­sure his body re­sponds well and con­tin­ues to per­form op­ti­mally. The ap­proach fits well with his out­reach ef­forts. While play­ing with the Mar­lies, Zigo­ma­nis pur­chased a suite at Ri­coh Coli­seum and worked with lo­cal char­i­ties to fill it with un­der­priv­iledged kids for ev­ery game. Not only did he pay for it out of his own pocket, but he also took the time af­ter ev­ery game to meet the group and sign au­to­graphs.

Like so many of the triath­letes that grace our pages, Zigo­ma­nis re­minds us how the sport seems to at­tract in­cred­i­bly pro­duc­tive, tal­ented peo­ple who un­der­stand the power of com­mu­nity and the im­pe­tus for change that sport pro­vides. Although he is off to nhl train­ing camp and then to a new sea­son with Rochester, by next sum­mer Ziggy is sure to be swim­ming, bik­ing and run­ning his op­po­nents down.

Mike Zigo­ma­nis at the 2013 Toronto Triathlon Fes­ti­val

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