SALINAS, Ecuador — USA Triathlon National Team member Kirsten Kasper raced to her first career ITU World Cup victory on Sunday, leading U.S. elite triathletes to three of the six spots on the podium as Summer Cook and Matt McElroy both grabbed silver.
Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) posted a time of 59 minutes, 16 seconds on the sprint-distance 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course to top the podium for the first time in an ITU World Cup event. Kasper, a graduate of the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program, previously earned three bronze medals in ITU World Cup events. Cook (Thornton, Colo.), also a former member of the Collegiate Recruitment Program, picked up the silver medal in 59:23, and Gillian Sanders of South Africa rounded out the podium with bronze in 59:31. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) also finished in the top 10, clocking in at 1:00:26 for eighth place.
All three American women were in the lead group coming out of the water, within 10 seconds of swim leader Mari Rabie of South Africa. Kasper and Cook finished first and second in part because of their run splits, with Kasper posting the best 5k time of 16:33 and Cook nearly matching her with a 5k split of 16:38.
"Words can’t describe how excited I am," Kasper told ITU media after the race. "I know Summer well from college, she ran for Villanova and I ran for Georgetown so we were big rivals. I was feeling strong in the final lap, so I thought I would take over and push through to the finish."
In the men’s race, it came down to a sprint to the finish, with the three podium finishers all within 2 seconds of each other. McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) finished in 53:34, just 1 second behind race winner David Castro Fajardo of Spain, and 1 second ahead of Mexico’s Crisanto Grajales. McElroy ran collegiately and competed in his first ITU race in July 2015. The Salinas ITU World Cup was just his fourth career ITU World Cup start and first career ITU World Cup podium finish.
Just two ITU World Cup events remain on the 2016 calendar: Tongyeong, Korea, on Oct. 22, followed by Miyazaki, Japan, on Oct. 29. The U.S. will host an ITU World Cup in October 2017 in Sarasota, Florida.
2016 Salinas ITU World Cup
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 59:16
2. Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), 59:23
3. Gillian Sanders (RSA), 59:31
8. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 1:00:26
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. David Castro Fajardo (ESP), 53:33
2. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 53:34
3. Crisanto Grajales (MEX), 53:35
31. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 55:21
46. Robby Webster (Seattle, Wash.), 58:27
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).