By Merryn Sherwood on 06/07/11 at 3:09 am
The ITU World Cup circuit returns to Edmonton for the first time in four years, a perfect time to see home grown star Paula Findlay in the best form of her career.
The last time there was a World Cup event in Edmonton, in 2007, Findlay did race and did win, it was in the junior division of the PATCO Pan American championships. This time, she’ll return as the new darling of triathlon and current leader in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series.
Expect crowds to be tightly packed around the course as everyone hopes to catch a glimpse of the ITU’s newest star on course, almost exactly ten years after the event that first put Edmonton on the triathlon map, the 2001 ITU World Championships. Edmonton hosted World Cup events from then up until 2007, with triathlon royalty Simon Whitfield, Bevan Docherty, Emma Moffatt, Loretta Harrop, Emma Snowsill, Hamish Carter, Andy Potts and Siri Lindley topping the podium. It’s also the site of one of the quirkiest ITU World Cup history facts, in more than 20 years of World Cup racing, only one event has ever had to be cancelled - that was the Edmonton men’s race in 2004 when a wintery blast hit the city. The event is the fourth World Cup event of 2011, and the only stop in Canada.
It’s been quick rise to the top for Findlay in the last 12 months, breaking through for her career first World Cup win last year in Monterrey, then her first Dextro Energy Triathlon Series win in London. She followed that up in Kitzbühel and was the only woman in 2010 to win multiple series races. In 2011, she went from proving last year wasn’t a fluke with a dominant win in Sydney, then caught Moffatt’s record as the most successful woman in series history with a win in Madrid, before overtaking her in Kitzbühel. She currently leads the Dextro Energy Triathlon Series by almost 500 points, and has won five of her last six series races.
Therefore, Findlay is the overwhelming favourite and if she puts together the times she’s been capable of in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, it’s hard to see who else will come close. As seen from the 22-year old’s last kilometre kicks in Sydney, Madrid and Kitzbühel – her running ability is simply spectacular and it’s hard to see anyone stopping her become the first Canadian winner in Edmonton. In the six years of women’s World Cup races there, only Australian and American women have ever won the Edmonton event.
Paula Findlay leads the run in Kitzbühel in 2011.
What will be interesting is who else can claim a spot on the podium, as there is a host of rising talent on the women’s start list. Last year’s junior World Champion Ashleigh Gentle, Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games team triathlon gold medallist Fanny Beisaron (ISR) and former Under23 and Junior World Champion Hollie Avil (GBR) will all have eyes for the podium. It’s Avil’s first World Cup event this year.
At the other end of the experience spectrum is triple Olympian Kiyomi Niwata who has had a excellent run of late, claiming bronze at the Ishigaki World Cup in May before going on to win two races in Asia. Other contenders will be Canadian Kathy Tremblay, Denmark’s Helle Frederiksen, Spain’s Zurine Rodriguez and Mateja Simic of Slovenia.
While the women’s race looks like its all about the new talent on the ITU circuit, experienced hands are most likely to be atop the men’s podium. Two-time Olympic medallist Simon Whitfield (CAN) has already won the Edmonton event twice, in 2002 and 2003, and will be keen to improve on his start to the season which included a 30th place in Madrid and a DNF in Kitzbühel. Another dual Olympic medallist in the field, New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty also has an Edmonton title to his name, he was the last winner in 2007. Docherty finished 10th in Kitzbühel, and will wear the No.1 in Edmonton.Three-time Olympian Hunter Kemper is also a real chance after hitting an excellent run of form. Kemper won his first World Cup event in more than five years in Ishigaki, then backed it up with a bronze medal in Monterrey and victory in the Monroe Pan American Cup.
The men’s start at the last Edmonton ITU World Cup race, which Bevan Docherty (NZL) won.
Those challenging are likely to be Canadian Kyle Jones, who has won his last three ITU races, in Weihei, Amakusa and Ixtapa. Prior to this run, Jones had never won an ITU race. His best World Cup result was back in 2008, when he finished fourth at the Richards Bay event in South Africa. Marek Jaskolka won his first World Cup medal this year, and could also figure, as well as Australian James Seear.
The 2011 ITU World Cup Edmonton gets underway when the women’s race starts at 1.30pm (local time) on Sunday July 10, followed by the men’s race at 3.45pm. Follow every movement live through Triathlon’s live timing and text updates, at www.triathlon.org/live. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/triathlonlive.
Find more details about this event - 2011 Edmonton ITU Triathlon World Cup