Weekend Notebook: Americans Stand Atop Podiums Around the World

By Nick Hehemann, USA Triathlon | March 11, 2019, 5:25 p.m. (ET)

World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi

The upward trajectory continues for Katie Zaferes. From fifth in 2015, to fourth in 2016, to third in 2017, to second last year, the U.S. superstar continues to improve her standing in the ITU World Triathlon Series every single year. The first race of 2019 for USA Triathlon’s 2018 Elite Female Triathlete of the Year inspired hope that the trend could continue all the way to the top this season.

Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) raced to a gold medal in the season opener in Abu Dhabi Friday, completing the 750-meter swim, 18.9-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run course in 55 minutes, 31 seconds. More Americans followed across the finish line shortly thereafter, as Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.; 55:57) took silver and Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.; 56:09) placed fourth — just three seconds away from a U.S. podium sweep. Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth rounded out the podium in third with a time of 56:06.

Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.) was the next highest U.S. finisher, taking 16th on the day.

The men’s race featured a familiar face at the top of the podium. Three-time world champion Mario Mola of Spain took the victory with a time of 52 minutes flat. Great Britain’s Alex Lee was just three seconds behind for the silver, while Spain’s Fernando Alarza rounded out the podium in third with a time of 52:12.

Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), USA Triathlon’s Elite Male Triathlete of the Year, was the highest U.S. men’s finisher in 13th place with a time of 52:27. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.; 52:47) took 20th and Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.; 53:31) cracked the top 30 in 29th place.

Saturday in Abu Dhabi brought the always exciting Mixed Team Relay. The star-studded team of Spivey, Kanute, Zaferes and Hemming began the year with a silver-medal finish, crossing the line in 1:24:21, just five seconds behind the champion, Team Australia. New Zealand took the bronze with a time of 1:24:31.

For complete results from the ITU World Triathlon Series opener in Abu Dhabi, click here.

CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships

Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida was the host for an exciting weekend of racing and a series of strong performances from U.S. athletes. U.S. paratriathletes collected 21 medals at the CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships on Saturday. 2018 ITU Paratriathlon World Champion Mark Barr (Davis, Calif.) won gold in the PTS2 men’s division, completing the 750-meter swim, 18.3k bike and 5k run course in 1:08:53. Hailey Danz (Wauwatosa, Wis.; PTS2 Women); Eric McElvenny (Pittsburgh, Pa.; PTS4 Men); Kelly Elmlinger (San Antonio, Texas; PTS4 Women); Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio; PTS5 Women); Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.; PTVI Men); Elizabeth Baker (Signal Mountain, Tenn; PTVI Women); Joshua Sweeney (Hillsboro, Ore.; PTWC Men) and Kendall Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill.; PTWC Women) also reached the top of the podium in their respective divisions.

To see all the Americans that medaled and a complete list of results from the CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships, click here.

CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup

Elite and Junior U.S. athletes also showed out in Sarasota-Bradenton. Jason West (Boulder, Colo.) earned the win with a time of 50:54 — his fifth career CAMTRI victory and ninth CAMTRI medal all together. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas; 51:11) joined him on the podium in third.

In the women’s race, Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) impressed with a silver-medal performance in 57:04. Amy Cymerman (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was the next best U.S. finisher in fourth place with a time of 57:45, while Megan Foley (Salt Lake City, Utah; 57:59) rounded out the top five.

Luis Ortiz (Orlando, Fla.; 52:23) represented the U.S. with a win in the Junior Men’s race, narrowly breaking the tape in dramatic fashion after a thrilling sprint finish with Canada’s Tristen Jones. Davis Bove (Franklin, Tenn.) finished fourth in 53:18.

Meanwhile, Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.) found the podium on the women’s side, taking the bronze with a time of 58:11. Liberty Ricca (Colorado Springs, Colo.) joined her U.S. teammate in the top five, finishing in fifth place with a time of 58:57.

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Excited to start out the season taking the win at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Junior American Cup. This qualifies me to the CAMTRI Junior American Championships in Monterrey, México. Progress is not a direct line, it has its ups and downs. Sometimes it's even hard to tell if one has progressed at all. It's good to see that all the hard work is paying off! Thanks to our amazing coaches @parkerspencer_ and @bigmattyreed. Thanks to @drsidorsky at @quantumcares for fixing me up before the race! Also thanks to @cyclingvirgin for helping me pack the new ride! Now it's time to keep up the hard work with @usatprojectpodium Congrats to all who raced! 🏊‍♂️ 🚴‍♂️ 🏃‍♂️ #triathlon #triatlon #swimbikerun #swim #bike #run #ironman #itu #usa #strava #garmin #specialized #ciclismo #asu #cycling #sarasota

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Sarasota-Bradenton also hosted Youth Elite Cup races on Saturday — taking place on a 375-meter swim, 12.2k bike, 2.5k run course. Faith Dasso (New Braunfels, Texas; 36:42) won the women's race, while Steven Cartwright (Jacksonville, Fla.; 33:51) reached the top of the podium in the men’s race.

Click here for complete results from the CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup, and here for results from the Youth Elite Cup races.

IRONMAN 70.3 Bariloche

American triathletes continued their weekend of success Sunday in Argentina at IRONMAN 70.3 Bariloche. Two Americans reached the podium in the women’s race — a 1900-meter swim, 90k bike and 21.1k run course. Haley Chura (Atlanta, Ga.; 4:34:32) broke the tape, beating second place finisher Romina Palacio of Argentina by nearly seven minutes. Kelsey Withrow (Pleasant Hill, Calif.; 4:45:22) rounded out the podium.

Justin Metzler (Iowa City, Iowa) represented the red, white and blue in the men’s race, reaching the podium in third with a time of 4:10:20.

For full results from IRONMAN 70.3 Bariloche, click here.