Mooloolaba, Australia — Gwen Jorgensen and Katie Hursey ran to first- and second-place finishes for the United States on Saturday at the 2014 ITU World Cup opener.
Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.), who finished fourth in the ITU World Triathlon Series rankings in 2013, clinched her victory in 59 minutes, 55 seconds on the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course. This was Jorgensen’s first World Cup since 2012, when she won in Banyoles, Spain, before turning her focus exclusively to the ITU World Triathlon Series in 2013. USA Triathlon’s 2013 Rookie of the Year Hursey (Phoenix, Ariz.) was not far behind, grabbing the silver medal in 1:00:10 for her third career World Cup podium finish. Japan’s Ai Ueda clocked in at 1:00:14 for third.
Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.) was the top finisher for the U.S. in the men’s race, finishing fifth to tie his best ITU World Cup finish.
The day started with Hursey leading the women’s field out of the water, posting the fastest swim split of the day (9:40) and forming the lead pack with Spain’s Carolina Routier and Canadian Kirsten Sweetland.
“When I got out of the water and saw no one ahead of me, I was super surprised and excited and I thought, ‘OK, I’ll just go with this,’” Hursey said. “Getting out of the water first made transition much easier.”
Jorgensen rode with the chase group along with Australian Emma Moffatt and Ellen Pennock of Canada, making up distance on the first two laps. The two groups merged at the halfway point, giving Jorgensen and Hursey the ideal position heading into the run. Jorgensen surged to the front of the field by the 2.5k mark on the run, logging the fastest run split of 16:32 to take the tape.
“I was trying to do what I could to have a good swim and a good bike,” Jorgensen said. “I’m fortunate that I can just back off a little bit [in running training], so it was good to come out here today to see where my running is at.”
The top-two finishes from Jorgensen and Hursey give the U.S. women their first 1-2 finish at an ITU World Cup since 2003, when Sheila Taormina and Barb Lindquist earned first- and second-place finishes in Madeira, Spain.
“I am so thrilled for Katie,” Jorgensen said. “And to have two USA girls on the podium says a lot (particularly because) USA Triathlon has been working really hard on getting more people into the sport.”
Mario Mola of Spain won the men’s race in 54:18, breaking away from the field on the final lap to finish ahead of South African Richard Murray, who was second in 54:37. Switzerland’s Sven Riederer finished third in 55:04. The men’s podium finishers were all ranked in the top eight of the 2013 world rankings. VanOrt came out of the water near the back of the pack on the swim, but worked hard on the bike before logging the third-fastest run split (14:41) to hold on for a fifth-place finish in 55:08.
2014 Mooloolaba ITU World Cup
(750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run)
Women – Complete Results
1. Gwen Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.), 59:55
2. Katie Hursey (Phoenix, Ariz.), 1:00:10
3. Ai Ueda (JPN), 1:00:14
12. Chelsea Burns (Phoenix, Ariz.), 1:01:25
24. Michelle Mehnert (Boulder, Colo.), 1:04:37
Men – Complete Results
1. Mario Mola (ESP), 54:18
2. Richard Murray (RSA), 54:37
3. Sven Riederer (SUI), 55:04
5. Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.), 55:08
41. Ben Kanute (Tucson, Ariz.), 56:52
54. Jason Pedersen (Simi Valley, Calif.), 58:27
59. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 59:58
DNF Tommy Zaferes (Soquel, Calif.)