Nine Americans will be in action on the 2012 Olympic course at Hyde Park
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — With spots for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team on the line at the International Triathlon Union World Championship Series stop at London’s Hyde Park, nine of the United States’ top elite triathletes — five women and four men — will be in action this weekend.
The 2011 ITU London WCS event will be held on the 2012 Olympic course and serves as the first opportunity for U.S. athletes to qualify for the Games. This weekend, the two highest-placing eligible American athletes per gender will automatically qualify for the Olympic team provided they place among the event’s top nine finishers.
The women are slated to race at 3:30 a.m. Eastern on Saturday, followed by the men at 8 a.m. Eastern on Sunday. A live webcast of both races will be available from ITU at triathlonlive.tv.
Laura Bennett (Boulder, Colo.), Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.), Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Jillian Petersen (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will compete in Saturday’s women’s race.
Matt Chrabot (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Manuel Huerta (Miami, Fla.), Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Jarrod Shoemaker (Maynard, Mass.) will represent the men Sunday.
Kemper is seeking his fourth Olympic berth, while Bennett, Haskins and Shoemaker are aiming for a second straight trip to the Games.
In addition to seeking individual berths to the Games, athletes also can lock up a country slot for the U.S. with a top-three finish in London. The U.S. is the only nation to have the maximum number of athletes — three men, three women — on the starting line in all three Olympic triathlons.
The seven-race WCS is a key proving ground for the United States’ top triathletes aiming for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. In addition to racing for WCS points, athletes also will be looking to earn points toward securing a spot for their country at the 2012 Olympic Triathlon in London.
USA Triathlon takes a look at some news and notes heading into the first U.S. Olympic qualifier in London:
Bennett Seeks Eighth Consecutive Top-Eight Finish
Based on her recent performances, Laura Bennett figures to be in the mix for a top-nine finish and an Olympic berth Saturday. She has finished in the top 10 in seven straight WCS events and has finished no worse than eighth over this stretch, which dates to the 2010 WCS stop in Hamburg. Her top finish was a fifth-place showing in London a year ago.
Groff Earns First-Ever Podium for U.S. Women
Currently seventh in the ITU WCS rankings, Sarah Groff accomplished something no other U.S. woman has done earlier this season. She placed third in Kitzbühel on June 19 to claim the first-ever podium finish for an American woman in the three-year-old WCS. Groff has finished as the top U.S. woman in three consecutive WCS events and owns a pair of top-seven finishes over this stretch.
Bennett, Groff Own Top-Nine Track Record in 2011
It will take a top-nine finish to secure a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, and that is something Laura Bennett and Sarah Groff have done a combined five times on the WCS circuit in 2011. Bennett has placed sixth (Kitzbühel), eighth (Madrid) and sixth (Sydney), respectively, in her three events this year, while Groff was seventh in Madrid and third in Kitzbühel. Bennett (fifth) and Groff (seventh) make the U.S. the only nation with two women ranked in the top seven of the WCS rankings.
A Comeback for Kemper
Three-time Olympian Hunter Kemper will look to secure a fourth career Olympic Games appearance Sunday. After being plagued by injuries for much of 2009 and 2010, Kemper has returned to form in 2011. While the London event will be just Kemper’s second WCS event of the season, he owns a trio of World Cup podium finishes, including a win in Ishigaki. Kemper is one of four three-time Olympians in the London field, and he will be joined by Canada’s Simon Whitfield, Great Britain’s Tim Don and Spain’s Ivan Rana. In all, 10 men have competed in the first three Olympic triathlons.
U.S. Bringing Veteran Squad to London
In addition to Kemper and his bid to become a four-time Olympian, the U.S. will have a trio of athletes looking to earn a second straight trip to the Games. Laura Bennett, Sarah Haskins and Jarrod Shoemaker all were Olympians in Beijing, with Bennett posting a U.S.-best fourth-place finish. Kemper was seventh in 2008 for his top Olympic showing.
Haskins Piling Up Wins in 2011
Sarah Haskins was 15th in her lone WCS event of 2011 in Kitzbühel and already has earned five victories on the season, including her first career ITU World Cup win in Monterrey. A versatile athlete, Haskins also has earned non-drafting victories at the Life Time Fitness Triathlon, the Capitol of Texas Triathlon, the Miami International Triathlon and the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. Haskins chose to race domestically for much of the season in preparation for this weekend’s event in London.
U.S. Experiences Success in London
The U.S. contingent experienced success at the 2010 London WCS stop with three athletes placing in the top 12, including a pair of top-seven finishes. Jarrod Shoemaker placed seventh to match his top WCS finish of the year, while Laura Bennett was fifth for her best showing of last season. Sarah Groff just missed the top 10 with a 12th-place effort in 2010 and also placed 10th in London at the 2009 WCS event.
Jorgensen a Fast Study in Triathlon
After earning her elite triathlon license in her first-ever triathlon in March 2010, Gwen Jorgensen has a shot to make the U.S. Olympic Team just 16 months later. A former standout runner and swimmer at the University of Wisconsin, Jorgensen has been a fast study in the sport. She has collected nine top-five finishes in her 14 career ITU events. Jorgensen will compete in her third WCS event this weekend. Last month in Hamburg, she posted the day’s fifth-fastest run split.
Paratriathletes in Action
While many of the nation’s top paratriathletes will be in action Sunday at the 2011 Accenture USA Paratriathlon National Championship in New York City, a trio of Americans will participate in Sunday’s sprint-distance elite paratriathlon event — Tommy Knapp, (TRI-4, Laguna Beach, Calif.), Sarah Reinertsen (TRI-2, Mission Viejo, Calif.) and JP Theberge (TRI-5, Carlsbad, Calif.).
2011 Season Highlights – Women
Laura Bennett (Boulder, Colo.), 2008 Olympian
Member of the USA Triathlon National Team • Stands fifth in the 2011 ITU World Championship Series rankings after four events • Placed sixth in Kitzbühel on June 19 for a seventh consecutive top-10 finish on the WCS circuit • Placed eighth in Madrid on June 5 • Finished sixth at the opener of the 2011 ITU World Championship Series in Sydney on April 10 • Led the Sydney race for much of the run.
Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.)
Member of the USA Triathlon National Team • Ranks seventh in the ITU World Championship Series Rankings through four events • Earned a spot on the U.S. roster for the 2011 Pan American Games based on her top-15 (13th place) finish in the Hamburg WCS race • Earned the first-ever podium finish in a WCS event by a U.S. woman by taking third in Kitzbühel on June 19 • Posted a then-career-best WCS finish of seventh in Madrid on June 5 • Opened the 2011 season with an eighth-place finish at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup on March 27.
Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2008 Olympian
Member of the USA Triathlon National Team • Won the Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis on July 9 for the third straight year • Finished 15th in her 2011 ITU World Championship Series debut June 19 in Kitzbühel • Named the USOC’s female Athlete of the Month for May after earning three victories in three starts • Winner of the May 30 Capitol of Texas Triathlon • Earned her first career ITU World Cup victory in Monterrey, Mexico, on May 8 • Pulled away midway through the bike and held on for the victory • Won the Miami International Triathlon on March 20 and the St. Anthony’s Triathlon on May 1 • Won the inaugural USA Triathlon Elite Sprint National Championship and took second overall at the opening event of the USA Triathlon Elite Race Series on March 5 in Clermont, Fla.
Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Member of the USA Triathlon Project 2012 program • Posted the fifth-fastest run split at the July 17 Hamburg WCS event • Made her ITU World Championship Series debut in Madrid on June 5 • Placed fifth at the May 8 Monterrey ITU World Cup • Finished 16th at the March 27 Mooloolaba ITU World Cup • Also was fifth at the Mazatlan ITU Pan American Cup on April 9 • Finished third overall at the opening event of the USA Triathlon Elite Race Series on March 5 in Clermont, Fla., but was the No. 2 American to earn runner-up honors in the first-ever USA Triathlon Elite Sprint National Championship.
Jillian Petersen (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Member of the USA Triathlon Project 2012 program • Ranks 41st in the ITU World Championship Series rankings through four events • Recorded a seventh-place finish at the April 17 Ishigaki ITU World Cup • Placed 20th at the opener of the 2011 WCS in Sydney on April 9 • Won the March 20 Miami International Triathlon • Finished fourth at the first event of the 2011 USA Triathlon Elite Race Series on March 5 in Clermont, Fla.
2011 Season Highlights – Men
Matt Chrabot (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Member of the USA Triathlon National Team • Placed third at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon on June 5 • Finished eighth at the Monterrey ITU World Cup on May 8 • Was a repeat winner at the Miami International Triathlon on March 20.
Manuel Huerta (Miami, Fla.)
Member of USA Triathlon’s Project 2012 program • Ranks 56th in the ITU World Championship Series rankings through four events • Placed 24th and was the top U.S. finisher at the Kitzbühel WCS event June 18 • Was the runner-up at the Ixtapa ITU Pan American Cup on May 28 • Finished 15th at the Monterrey ITU World Cup on May 8 and was 16th at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup on March 27 • Finished second at the Olympic-distance Rev3 Costa Rica on Feb. 20.
Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2000, 2004, 2008 Olympian
USA Triathlon National Team member • Earned his third ITU World Cup podium finish of the season, taking bronze in Edmonton on July 10 • Winner of the second stop of the USA Triathlon Elite Race Series in Monroe, Wash., on June 25 • Finished second at the Capitol of Texas Triathlon on May 30 • Earned a second straight World Cup podium finish by taking third in Monterrey, Mexico, on May 8 • Broke away on the run to earn gold at the Ishigaki ITU World Cup on April 17 • The victory marked his first World Cup title since 2005 and the fourth of his career • Named the USOC’s male Athlete of the Month for April following his win in Ishigaki.
Jarrod Shoemaker (Maynard, Mass.), 2008 Olympian
Member of the USA Triathlon National Team • Ranks 54th in the ITU World Championship Series rankings through four events • Was the top U.S. finisher and placed 20th overall at the WCS event in Madrid on June 4 • Finished sixth at the Monterrey ITU World Cup on May 8 • Won the inaugural USA Triathlon Elite Sprint National Championship and took second overall at the opening event of the USA Triathlon Elite Race Series on March 5 in Clermont, Fla.
About USA Triathlon
Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon – one of the fastest growing sports in the world – as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. USA Triathlon sanctions 3,500 races and connects with more than 140,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including ITU World Championships, Pan American Games and the Summer Olympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the International Triathlon Union and the United States Olympic Committee.