This weekend all six U.S. Olympians will be in Portland, Oregon gunning for the 2008 U.S. Elite National Championship, an event that doubles as an ITU Pan American Cup. The Olympians will likely lead the charge for the podium including Laura Bennett, Sarah Haskins and Julie Ertel on the women’s side. But the highest ranked American woman in the BG Triathlon World Cup rankings is Sarah Groff, who’s picked up points in five world cups this year and climbed to number ten. The second highest ranked U.S. woman is Haskins, the 2006 U.S. National Champion and a silver medallist at this year’s world championships. Bennett will be a formidable challenge for both as a proven performer on the big stage. She has four world championships medals and was the top U.S. triathlete at the Beijing Olympic Games, finishing in fourth place.
On the men’s side, Andy Potts will defend his title against a host of challengers that include all three Olympians. Coming off a top ten finish in Beijing, Hunter Kemper will be in search of his 7th U.S. Elite National Championship. That would pull him ahead of Scott Molina for most championships among American men. Both Potts and Kemper will have to contend with Matt Reed, the 2004 champion who impressively secured his Olympic spot earlier in the year with a slew of top ten results on the world cup circuit.
A $30,000 prize purse is on the line, plus bonuses from Speedo for the top U.S. athletes.
Past U.S. Elite National Champions
2007 - Andy Potts & Julie Swail (Ertel)
2006 - Hunter Kemper & Sarah Haskins
2005 - Hunter Kemper & Becky Lavelle
2004 - Matt Reed & Barb Lindquist
2003 - Hunter Kemper & Laura Reback
2002 - Seth Wealing & Barb Lindquist
2001 - Hunter Kemper & Karen Smyers
2000 - Marcel Vifian & Joanna Zeiger
1999 - Hunter Kemper & Barb Lindquist
1998 - Hunter Kemper & Siri Lindley
1997 - Cameron Widoff & Sian Welch
1996 - Jeff Devlin & Susan Latshaw
1995 - Jeff Devlin & Karen Smyers
1994 - Scott Molina & Karen Smyers
1993 - Bill Braun & Karen Smyers
1992 - Mike Pigg & Karen Smyers
1991 - Mike Pigg & Karen Smyers
1990 - Scott Molina & Karen Smyers
1989 - Ken Glah & Jan Ripple
1988 - Mike Pigg & Colleen Cannon Kaushansky
1987 - Mike Pigg & Kirsten Hanssen
1986 - Scott Molina & Kirsten Hanssen
1985 - Scott Molina & Linda Buchanan
1984 - Scott Molina & Beth Mitchell
1983 - Scott Molina & Sylviane Puntous
With more than 1,000 of the top amateur triathletes in the country set to compete, the 26th installment of the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship is gearing up to be one of the most competitive events in recent years.
The race is set for Saturday morning (first wave starts at 7:15 a.m.) at Henry Hagg Lake, just outside Portland, Ore. It’s the second year in a row the 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run event has been held at the picturesque venue.
Adding to the excitement for the age-group athletes is the addition of the Elite National Championship to the race day schedule on Saturday afternoon - the first time in nearly a decade that the amateurs and professionals have raced at the same venue. Included in the elite start list of more than 50 athletes are all six members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team that competed at the Beijing Olympic Games in August. The Olympians will be holding an autograph and Q&A session during Friday’s registration at the race venue.
For the age group competition, 16 national champions (out of 29 categories) return to race from 2007. Just one, Jan Miller of Green Valley, Ariz., is racing in a new age-group in 2008. The rest are set to defend their 2007 titles.
Neither overall champion from 2007 is back (though men’s champion Ben Collins of Seattle, Wash., will be racing in the elite race on Saturday), but the competition for the top spots will be hotly contested. Look for Eric Bell of Knoxville, Tenn., (25-29 age group) to have a strong race. Fresh off an overall world championship title in June, Bell will be challenged by 30-34 age-grouper Curt Wood of Chaska, Minn. On the women’s side, last year’s 30-34 champion Rachel Ross of Honolulu, Hawaii, could vie for the top spot, but will be challenged by 30-34 age-grouper Cathy Yndestad of St. Paul, Minn.
Though there are race favourites based on past results, anything can happen on race day. The sport is unpredictable and the championship is often the stage for little known competitors to make their marks on the multisport scene.
Here’s the complete list of returning champions:
M30-34: Chuck Sloan (Oklahoma, Okla.) (1:57:34)
F30-34: Rachel Ross (Honolulu, Hawaii) (2:13:40)
M35-39: Craig Greenslit (Berthoud, Colo.) (1:58:56)
F35-39: Stacey Richardson (Chapel Hill, N.C.) (2:12:41)
M40-44: Brian Bich (Duluth, Minn.) (1:58:48) Male Master Champion
F45-49: Holly Nybo (Portola Valley, Calif.) (2:17:23)
F50-54: Bridget Dawson (Portland, Ore.) (2:22:57)
F55-59: Sandi Wiebe (Vancouver, Wash.) (2:38:27)
M60-64: Steven Smith (Granger, Ind.) (2:19:46) Male Grandmaster Champion
F60-64: Lauren Binder (Portland, Ore.) (2:38:05) Female Grandmaster Champion
F70-74: Jan Miller (Green Valley, Ariz.) (3:00:02) Raced in 65-69 age group in 2007
M70-74: Jon Adamson (Alpharetta, Ga.) (2:35:07)
F70-74: Susan Bradley Cox (Lexington, Ky.) (3:11:23)
F75-79: Madonna Buder (Spokane, Wash.) (3:50:37)
Clydesdale 39 and Under: Brandon Bartell (2:26:20)
Clydesdale 40 and Over: Mike Shaffer (Ventura, Calif.) (2:11:41)
Other items to note:
Oldest Competitor: Madonna Buder, 78
Youngest: Colin Keith, 18 years and 2 months
States Represented: 45 (plus Washington DC, Puerto Rico and Canada)
State with Most Athletes: California, 172
Athletes from Oregon: 76
Athletes from Washington: 107
The race is also a qualifying event for the 2009 ITU World Championship on the Gold Coast of Australia. The top 16 in each age group will earn a spot on Team USA. Also on the line are spots for Team USA to compete at the Sprint World Championship, a shorter event being held at the same venue in Australia in 2009.
Related Event: 2008 Portland ITU Triathlon Premium Pan American Cup
|Results: Elite Women|
|5.||Becky Gibbs Lavelle||USA||02:08:19|
|7.||Mary Beth Ellis||USA||02:10:17|
|Results: Elite Men|