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Laura Bennett is looking for her fifth World Championship medal as she leads the U.S. elites in Vancouver.
Laura Bennett is looking for her fifth World Championship medal as she leads the U.S. elites in Vancouver.
photo: Frank Wechsel / ITU

Elites Set for World Championships

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Triathlon is pleased to announce the 20 elite athletes who will represent the United States at the 2008 ITU Triathlon World Championships this weekend in Vancouver, Canada.

The team consists of five male elites, six female elites, two male and three female U23 athletes, and two athletes on both the junior male and junior female teams.

The events – which will include championships for age group and physically challenged athletes – will be split over three days.

For the elites, the juniors take to the course on Thursday, June 5. The elite and U23 races are set for Sunday, June 8.

“With worlds taking place in North America in an Olympic year, we are very excited about our medal possibilities,” said USAT Sport Performance Director Scott Schnitzspahn. “We have podium potential on nearly all of our teams.”

After no podium finishes in 2006, the team rebounded with two medals at last year’s event in Hamburg, Germany

Elite Men
Matt Reed (Boulder, Colo.)
Jarrod Shoemaker (Sudbury, Mass. / Maynard, Mass.)
Brian Fleischmann (Jacksonville, Fla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Doug Friman (Alameda, Calif. / Tucson, Ariz.)
Tim O’Donnell (Shavertown, Pa. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Leading the men will be 2008 Olympic Team qualifiers Matt Reed and Jarrod Shoemaker. This will be Reed’s eighth world championship appearance, and he hopes to improve on his personal best of 10th at the 2002 event in Cancun. Reed has been on a tear of late, with wins at the U.S. Olympic Teams Trials and the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in April, and a silver medal at the ITU World Cup in Richards Bay just a month ago.

Shoemaker is on the team for the third straight year and is looking to improve on his best finish of 47th in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2006. The former U23 ITU World Champion is racing with confidence after claiming the first U.S. Olympic Team spot last September at the ITU Beijing World Cup.

This is Fleischmann’s sixth worlds appearance, with a top finish of 19th in 2001. Friman is competing for the fifth time, while O’Donnell, a five-time U.S. Armed Forces National Champion, is making his second straight trip.

Elite Women
Laura Bennett (N. Palm Beach, Fla. / Boulder, Colo.)
Julie Swail Ertel (Irvine, Calif.)
Sarah Haskins Kortuem (St. Louis, Mo. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Sarah Groff (Cooperstown, N.Y. / Boulder, Colo.)
Sara McLarty (DeLand, Fla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Amanda Stevens (Enid, Okla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)

The women returned to the podium for the fifth time in six years in Hamburg in 2007, thanks to Laura Bennett’s bronze medal performance. Since 1989, U.S. women have earned 16 top-three finishes at the World Championships. Three women have earned worlds gold (Karen Smyers in 1990 and 1995, Siri Lindley in 2001, and Sheila Taormina in 2004) in U.S. history.

Four of those recent podium finishes have been by Bennett, who is back to compete on her ninth worlds team. Bennett earned silver in 2003 and back-to-back bronze medals in 2004 and 2005, before returning to the top three last year. Bennett had a phenomenal year in 2007, earning a big victory at the ITU World Cup in Des Moines and claiming the first spot on the U.S. Olympic Team heading to Beijing in August.

Joining Bennett is an athlete who had a breakout year in 2007 and recently earned her own spot on the Olympic Team. Julie Swail Ertel captured her first elite national title, won gold at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and closed the 2007 season with her first World Cup win in Cancun. A 2000 Olympian in water polo and former age group overall world champion, Ertel started 2008 with a bang by winning the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She is making her fourth appearance at elite worlds.

Sarah Haskins Kortuem, the 2006 USAT Elite National Champion, produced three top-four finishes at world cups in 2007 and captured silver at the Pan Am Games. She finished 21st in her first world championship in 2006 and followed that with a 10th place finish in Hamburg last year. She is in the driver’s seat for the final Olympic Team slot, to be decided after the ITU Des Moines World Cup later in June.

Also making her third worlds appearance is Sarah Groff (Cooperstown, N.Y. / Boulder, Colo.), who had her best world cup finish of fifth at Edmonton in 2007 and captured the ITU Aquathlon World title. She finished 16th at last year’s World Championship. She still has an outside shot at the third Olympic Team slot.

Sara McLarty, the 2006 USAT U23 National Champion and 2006 Aquathlon World Champion, is on the team for the second straight year and will look to improve on last year’s 49th place finish. McLarty, unquestionably the fastest swimmer in the world of draft-legal racing, will play a key role in helping the U.S. get an early lead.

The lone rookie on the team is Amanda Stevens, a former Age Group World Champion.

U23 Men
Ethan Brown (Lowell, Mass.)
Andrew Yoder (Columbia, Pa.)

2007 U23 National Champion Ethan Brown is making his second appearance at the U23 level. He will be looking to improve on his 45th place finish last year. This is Andrew Yoder’s first appearance.

U23 Women
Jasmine Oeinck (Littleton, Colo. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jennifer Spieldenner (Findlay, Ohio)
Justine Whipple (Duxbury, Mass.)

Jasmine Oeinck was the center of attention at last year’s event, time trialing the bike on the rain-soaked streets of Hamburg to earn a silver medal. She is back for her third appearance and is looking for gold. Joining her are two veterans, Justine Whipple and Jennifer Spieldenner, who finished 14th and 24th, respectively, at last year’s race. A former junior worlds participant, this will be Spieldenner’s third U23 team. Whipple, the 2007 USAT U23 National Champion, will be competing as a U23 for the second straight year.

Junior Men
Greg Billington (Spokane, Wash.)
Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.)

Greg Billington, the 2007 USAT Junior National Champion, is back for the third straight year. His 12th place finish in Hamburg last year led all U.S. juniors. Joining Billington is first-year participant Kevin McDowell, one of the top USAT Youth Elites from a year ago.  McDowell was the second American (11th overall) at last month’s Junior Elite Pan American Championship in Mexico.

Junior Women
Lauren Goldstein-Kral (Shaker Heights, Ohio)
Natalie Russell (Batavia, Ill.)

Lauren Goldstein-Kral is the veteran for this team. The 2007 USAT Junior Elite of the Year was performing well in Hamburg last year before a bike crash ended her day. She is joined on the team by the 2007 USAT Junior Elite National Champion Natalie Russell. Russell won the title at the ITU Sprint World Championship in Hamburg in 2007.

See more details – including a complete schedule – at the official race website

Or visit the ITU race website

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