EDMONTON, Alberta — U.S. National Team member and Olympian Gwen Jorgensen claimed the 2014 ITU World Championships title on Saturday at Hawrelak Park, topping the podium in the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final race and the overall season standings. Sarah Groff, an Olympian who is also on the U.S. National Team, finished second in the overall season standings for the World Championships silver medal.
Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.) finished the 1,500-meter swim, 43.2-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run course in 2 hours, 5 seconds to close out her winning season with the world title. Her 10k run split was 33:24 to move her into the lead on the third of four run laps. New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt was second in 2:00:21 and her compatriot Nicky Samuels was third in 2:00:31. Groff (Hanover, N.H.) just missed the podium in the race with a fourth-place finish in 2:01:20, but earned enough points to retain her second-place ranking overall, and Katie Hursey (Phoenix, Ariz.) was ninth.
The world title for Jorgensen comes at the end of a record-breaking season in which she earned eight career ITU World Triathlon Series wins. Jorgensen won five titles just this season, becoming the only woman in WTS history to win five events in one season. She ties the all-time record with 2012 Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain, who won five series events in 2009.
Jorgensen’s world title is the first for the U.S. since 2004, when four-time Olympian Sheila Taormina claimed the title. It is also the first for the U.S. since the World Triathlon Series was launched in 2009, when the championship was awarded to the athlete with the top points total after accumulating points over the season as opposed to a one-day world championship event. Groff is the only athlete to have ever finished on the podium in the overall series standings with a third-place finish in 2011. The U.S. had never finished 1-2 in an elite ITU World Championships until today.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, that I’m world champion,” Jorgensen said. “This race was interesting because going in I knew I only had to get top 16 to be world champion. I really wanted to win it on this day, and it’s been the sole focus all year.”
Groff and Hursey came out of the water in the lead group and quickly worked with Hewitt and Samuels to keep the chase pack at bay. Jorgensen made the first chase pack and worked with 2008 Olympian Sarah Haskins (Clermont, Fla.) within striking distance on the run. Though trailing nearly 20 women at the start of the run, Jorgensen moved her way into the lead group by the third lap, running most of the final lap out front on her own.
“It is huge for the U.S.,” Jorgensen said of the 1-2 American finish. “I think it just shows so much what USA Triathlon has been doing for their athletes and I think it just shows huge dividends and I think it’s really exciting in the qualifying year and going into Rio.”
Groff had moved into the No. 2 position with a WTS win last weekend in Stockholm, and is now the only American since the WTS was launched to have earned two world championships medals at the close of a season.
“Honestly it was just a struggle to stay on the podium for the series for me,” Groff said. “I had to fight the entire day. Sometimes you’ve got it and sometimes you don’t, and today I had enough.”
The points athletes earned today count toward Olympic team selections, with athletes vying for 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.
ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Edmonton
1,500m swim, 43.2k bike, 10k run
1. Gwen Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.), 2:00:05
2. Andrea Hewitt (NZL), 2:00:21
3. Nicky Samuels (NZL), 2:00:31
4. Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.), 2:01:20
9. Katie Hursey (Phoenix, Ariz.), 2:01:27
36. Lindsey Jerdonek (Sagamore Hills, Ohio), 2:06:51
44. Kaitlin Donner (Satellite Beach, Fla.), 2:08:40
DNF Sarah Haskins (Clermont, Fla.)
Final Threadneedle ITU World Triathlon Series Standings
Complete season rankings
1. Gwen Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.), 5,085 points
2. Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.), 3,987 points
3. Andrea Hewitt (NZL), 3,845 points