Olympians, Olympic hopefuls compete in Grant Park June 28-29
CHICAGO – USA Triathlon National Team member and No. 1 world ranked Gwen Jorgensen leads a field of 130 of the world’s top elite triathletes, including 19 Americans, who will compete in the ITU World Triathlon Chicago this weekend along Lake Michigan in Grant Park.
Gwen Jorgensen is the top American heading into this weekend’s event. (Delly Carr/ITU)
The elite women, including Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.), are slated to compete at 12:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, June 28, and the elite men will race at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 29 in the only U.S. stop on the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Series circuit. The 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run races will be broadcast live on Universal Sports Network, both on air and online at universalsports.com to authenticated users. A live webcast is also available on triathlonlive.tv.
Multisport fans can also predict the elite podium finishers in the new fantasy triathlon TRIFECTA game, launched this spring by USA Triathlon and ITU. Podium picks must be submitted attrifecta.usatriathlon.org before the first race begins.
Jorgensen won her fifth career ITU World Triathlon Series title last month in London, tying for the most wins in the global series since it was launched in 2009. Jorgensen made history at last year’s series event in San Diego when she became the first American woman to win a series title.
A total of nine U.S. women will toe the line on Saturday, including Kaitlin Donner (Satellite Beach, Fla.), Lindsey Jerdonek (Sagamore Hills, Ohio), Erin Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Chelsea Burns (Phoenix, Ariz.), Brianna Blanchard (Boston, Mass.), Erin Dolan (Bentonville, Ark.), Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and Nicole Truxes (Tempe, Ariz.).
Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, a 2012 Olympian and 2011 World Champion, is on the start list after sitting out most of the 2013 with an injury, and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Emma Moffatt of Australia is also poised to challenge the field. The Japanese women have also brought a strong squad to Chicago, with three women who are currently ranked in the top 15 on the start list. View the complete women’s start list here.
In the men’s race, four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.) is set to race in his first ITU World Triathlon Series event since April 2013 in San Diego. Kemper is one of only three triathletes who have qualified for four Olympic teams, and he is the only man to have completed all four Olympic triathlons.
Also representing the U.S. are three hometown athletes – Ben Kanute (Tucson, Ariz.), originally from Geneva, Illinois, Lukas Verzbicas (Orland Hills, Ill.) and Reeven Nathan (Highland Park, Ill.). All three athletes competed on Multisport Madness Triathlon Team as junior triathletes and will race in familiar territory in Chicago on Sunday. This is only the second World Triathlon Series start for Verzbicas since he suffered a major injury due to a bike crash in July 2012, and it is Nathan’s World Triathlon Series debut.
Ten U.S. men, including Kemper, Kanute, Verzbicas and Nathan, will face off against the international field on Sunday: Joe Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.), Jason Pedersen (Simi Valley, Calif.), Jarrod Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.), Kaleb Van Ort (Mishawaka, Ind.), William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) and Alex Libin (Colorado Springs, Colo.).
Javier Gomez of Spain is the top-ranked athlete for the men and looks to add his fourth series win this season having earned titles in Auckland, Cape Town and Yokohama earlier this year. His Spaniard compatriot Mario Mola and South Africa’s Richard Murray are also ranked in the top four and have posted blazing fast run splits in previous series events. The complete men’s start list is available here.
Elite athletes in Chicago are vying for Olympic qualification points on behalf of their National Federation that will eventually determine the number of Olympic spots allotted to each country. More information on the 2016 Olympic Games ITU qualification system is available here. Additionally, U.S. athletes will be racing for USA Triathlon Elite National titles as part of the event.
A field of 4,000 age-group triathletes from 49 states and 31 countries, as well as 60 elite paratriathletes will also compete in Chicago, starting in Monroe Harbor and finishing at Buckingham Fountain in the same venue as the world’s best professionals. Visitchicago.triathlon.org for updates from the event.