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Winter Vinecki realizes importance of nutrition for young athletes to help her complete triathlons in support of prostate cancer prevention


Young triathlete Winter Vinecki stresses nutrition for young athletes. She participates in kids’ triathlons and undergoes constant training. Being too young is never an excuse for her when it comes to training or nutrition.

“Everyone always tells me ‘you’re too young, you can’t do this,’” Winter says. “But I just go for it because I know my dad waited to do everything he wanted to do until he couldn’t do any of those things.”

At age nine, Winter Vinecki’s father was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer. Ten months later, he was gone. Winter and her brothers made a vow soon after his death that is engraved on his tombstone: “Cancer, we will chase you to the end of the world and stomp you out like you stomped our dad out.”

That’s a vow Winter, now 14, has taken seriously. In 2008, the year of her dad’s diagnosis, she founded Team Winter, a non-profit organization that funds prostate cancer research and raises awareness on a global scale. Team Winter is a proud supporting partner of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and has raised more than $400,000 for prostate cancer research in the past five years.

Competitive racing has been a passion of Winter’s since she was five years old. Originally, she intended to race as a way to bring awareness to the epidemic of childhood obesity. Now Winter competes with a more personal calling – one so compelling it has driven her to become the 2010 and 2011 IronKids National Champion.

A youth triathlon series for children ages 6-15, IronKids holds 50 events across the globe each year. Like a regular adult triathlon, IronKids races are comprised of a consecutive swim, bike ride, and run; however the distances are tailored for specific ages. Competing in the senior division for kids ages 12-15, Winter first completes a 300-yard swim, followed by an 8-mile bike ride, and finishes with a 2-mile run. The top athletes in each age division then compete for the IronKids National Championship.

Winter won seven first place IronKids trophies during the 2011 seasons – including the National Championship – yet none of them grace her mantel. That’s because she gives each symbol of her victory to a family affected by prostate cancer. It’s her way of letting families know that she is fighting for them to ensure that one day, no one will have to suffer from this all-too-common disease, which affects one in six men.

Even with her full schedule, Winter manages to maintain a 4.0 GPA through Stanford University’s prestigious online high school, Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY). She has to attend an online school because, as the IronKids Ambassador, her travel schedule is packed. She visits schools across the United States, spreading the IronKids philosophy of getting young people to lead an active, positive, and healthy lifestyle – and inspiring them to race for a cause.

In 2011, during the Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Salute, Winter received the Annika Inspiration Award, named for international golf superstar Annika Sorenstam and given in collaboration with the ANNIKA Foundation, the young golfer’s nonprofit organization. The Annika Inspiration Award honors “a girl who demonstrates athleticism, dedication, leadership, and the ability to inspire others.”

It was at an IronKids event in Round Rock, Texas, that Winter was first introduced to Juice Plus+. As a young athlete, she realized that she puts tremendous strain on her body so the concept of whole-food-based nutrition from fruits and vegetables made perfect sense to her.

“Now, I bring Juice Plus+ everywhere I go to get more of the nutrients in my system that I need to be able to perform – in races and everyday life,” she says.

Winter is also a fan of Juice Plus+ Complete Drink Mix, which she uses as a post-workout recovery shake.

“What I’ve found is that compared to the other ‘recovery’ drinks I’ve tried, Juice Plus+ Complete is way more healthy for you – and it tastes a lot better, too!” Winter says.

Like anyone committed to a mission, Winter is proud of her accomplishments, but she already has her eyes on the next goal. She is planning to race in dozens of events throughout 2013, where she’ll be focused on freestyle aerials throughout the winter as well as completing her world-record marathon attempt by the end of the year. She’ll also be racing in multiple running triathlons including the Xterra series. As the newest and youngest member of Fly Elite, the Olympic development team for aerial skiing, she is training four to eight hours every day in hopes of making the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Where does she get all that energy, drive, and commitment? From her father’s too-short life.

“You never know when it’s going to be your last day, so you’ve got to go for it,” Winter says. “That’s what Living Life to the Plus+ means to me: see it all, do it all, be it all.”

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