Olympians Shine in USA Triathlon Elite Race Series Opener
In the opening event of the 2011 USA Triathlon Elite Race Series, U.S. Olympians Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Jarrod Shoemaker (Maynard, Mass.) claimed the first-ever USA Triathlon Elite Sprint National Championship titles as the top American finishers Saturday here at Lake Louisa State Park.
Also a sprint-distance ITU Pan American Cup, the event featured an international field with Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins and Greg Rouault of France placing first overall in the women’s and men’s races, respectively. With their wins Saturday, Jenkins and Rouault sit atop the USA Triathlon Elite Race Series standings after the first of six events.
Jenkins was the overall women’s winner in 55 minutes, 5 seconds over the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run course. Haskins finished as the runner-up and Elite Sprint National Champion in 55:53, while Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.) ran her way to third in 55:57.
The men’s race was tightly contested to the tape with Rouault finishing first in 50:28, just three seconds ahead of Shoemaker, who grabbed the Elite Sprint national title in 50:31. First-year elite Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.) was third in 50:34.
A full day of racing was capped with the ITU Junior North American Championship, which covered the same distances. In the junior men’s race, standout prep runner Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.) closed with a 14:51 run split to grab third place and finish as the top American in 54:14. Mexico’s Octavio Oliveros was the junior men’s winner in 53:36.
Two-time USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Champion Tanelle Berard (Clive, Iowa) took third in the junior women’s race in 1:00:57, as Mexico’s Adrian Barraza claimed the title in 1:00:23. A group of seven women stuck together for much of the bike before the three medalists gained separation early on the run.
In the women’s elite race, local favorite and standout swimmer Sara McLarty (Clermont, Fla.) took the lead out of the water and onto the bike. A pack of five, featuring Jenkins, Haskins, McLarty, Alicia Kaye (Maynard, Mass.) and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy maintained a comfortable advantage of more than 30 seconds on the chase pack for much of the bike. Once on the run, Jenkins quickly broke away, building a 20-second lead on Haskins at the midway point. Jorgensen closed fast and matched Jenkins with a 15:40 run split to round out the podium and finish as the second American. Jillian Petersen (St. Louis, Mo.) was the No. 3 U.S. finisher.
“I’m pleased with today just for the fact that we haven’t done a whole lot of speed work yet this season,” said Haskins, who was hampered by injury late in 2010. “We’re kind of building it a little slower due to the fact that I had about 10 weeks off from running last fall. I’m pleased with how I felt ...”
The men were tightly bunched out of the water and throughout the bike with more than 40 riders in the lead pack. American Ben Collins (Seattle, Wash.) led the charge out of T2, but VanOrt and Shoemaker quickly joined a lead group of four athletes midway through the run. In the end, it was Rouault breaking the tape with just six seconds separating the podium. Chris Foster (Redondo Beach, Calif.) finished fifth overall and was the third American.
“That was the probably the best race that we could have had for early in the season,” Shoemaker said. “It was fast from beginning to end ... We were just hammering the entire bike, and it was really good for me to work on positioning and trying to make sure I was up toward the front of the bike pack coming in. On the run ... it was fun to be out there just going for it.”
In addition to racing, Shoemaker also served as one of the event organizers. “I don’t think things could have gone better,” Shoemaker said. “Before I even started racing I had 10 or 15 of the age-groupers come up and say ‘thank you, this was fun, it was awesome, it was well done.’ That makes me feel good ...”
The age-groupers kicked off the day with the Draft Legal Challenge at Clermont, the first USA Triathlon-sanctioned draft-legal event open to all amateur athletes. Following a non-drafting race, the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program, which aims to introduce triathlon to talented former collegiate runners and swimmers, took center stage, claiming both age-group titles.
Natalie Kirchhoff (Columbia, Mo.), a former collegiate swimmer at Rice, and Jake Rhyner (Sheboygan, Wis.), a runner from Wisconsin-La Crosse, were the overall winners in the draft-legal event. Collegiate Recruitment Program athletes took the top three spots in the men’s race, as Kyle Lee (Birmingham, Ala.) grabbed second, and Patrick Parish (Circle Pines, Minn.) finished third after posting a 15:19 run split.
The USA Triathlon Elite Race Series is a domestic, six-event series that delivers an opportunity for the nation’s top Olympic-distance triathletes to compete for more than $300,000 in prize money and a series title - all while honing the draft-legal racing skills necessary to challenge for the podium at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Visit usatriathlon.org for more on the 2011 USA Triathlon Elite Race Series.
2011 USA Triathlon Elite Race Series Standings (through one of six events)Women
1. Helen Jenkins (GBR), 25 points
2. Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 15
3. Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.), 10
4. Jillian Petersen (St. Louis, Mo.), 9
5. Non Stanford (GBR), 8
6. Kerry Lang (GBR), 7
7. Kelly Whitley (Geneva, Ill.), 6
8. Lauren Goss (Mount Pleasant, S.C.), 5
9. Sara McLarty (Clermont, Fla.), 3
10. Alicia Kaye (Maynard, Mass.), 1
1. Greg Rouault (FRA), 25 points
2. Jarrod Shoemaker (Maynard, Mass.), 15
3. Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.), 10
4. Todd Leckie (GBR), 9
5. Chris Foster (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 8
6. Gabor Faldum (HUN), 7
7. Jason Wilson (BAR), 6
8. Yohann Vincent (FRA), 5
9. Oscar David Preciado (COL), 3
10. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), 1
(USA Triathlon Press Release)
Photo Courtesy of Paul Phillips/Competitive Image