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Jarrod Shoemaker earned his first USA Triathlon elite national title in 2010. (Paul Phillips/Competitive Image)
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USA Triathlon Elite Nationals Notebook & Pre-Race Video

USA Triathlon looks ahead to Saturday's Elite National Championship in Buffalo, N.Y.


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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A field featuring nearly 40 top American triathletes — including three Olympians — will be in action at the 2012 USA Triathlon Elite National Championship, held alongside the Nickel City Triathlon on Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y. USA Triathlon takes a look ahead at some of the storylines to watch entering this weekend's race action.

Women's Buffalo ITU Pan American Cup Start List
Men's Buffalo ITU Pan American Cup Start List
All-Time USA Triathlon Elite National Championship Results (PDF)

• USA Triathlon National Team member Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who was second two weeks ago at the prestigious Hy-Vee Triathlon, enters Elite Nationals on a roll, having won five non-drafting events this season. She will make her first ITU start since placing eighth at the May 2012 ITU World Triathlon San Diego. A strong swim-biker, Haskins will look to distance herself early in Buffalo in search of her second career elite national title.

• USA Triathlon National Team standouts Sarah Haskins and Jarrod Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.) aim for their second career Elite National Championship titles. Haskins was victorious in 2006 in Long Beach, Calif., before placing second in 2007 and 2008, which marked Haskins’ last appearance at Elite Nationals. Shoemaker guns for his second title in the last three years after winning Elite Nationals in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2010. He placed third among Americans in Buffalo a year ago en route to a first-place finish in the 2011 USA Triathlon Elite Race Series.

• It has already been a memorable year for London Olympian Manuel Huerta (Miami, Fla.), but he’ll look to secure his first career elite national title this weekend. Huerta owns a pair of top-10 Elite Nationals finishes in his career with a top showing of ninth in 2006 in Long Beach, Calif. The Cuban-born Huerta, who raced for the first time since the Olympic Games last weekend at the Guatape ITU World Cup and earned his first career ITU World Cup podium finish, made headlines in May with his emotional ninth-place finish at the ITU World Triathlon San Diego to earn a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.

• Saturday’s field features a pair of survivors of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in first-time Elite Nationals competitors Laurel Wassner (New York, N.Y.) and Kevin McDowell (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Cancer-free since 2006, Wassner became the first cancer survivor to win a professional triathlon in 2010. McDowell is in his first full season of elite competition since undergoing treatment for the disease in 2011. McDowell’s season has been highlighted by a fifth-place finish at the Dallas ITU Pan American Cup in June, while Wassner has been a non-drafting standout at events ranging from Olympic-distance races to Ironman New York.  

• Kaitlin Shiver (Gainesville, Fla.) and Greg Billington (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will look to repeat as USA Triathlon Under-23 National Championship winners after topping the U23 podium in Buffalo a year ago. Following Elite Nationals, both athletes will compete in the 2012 ITU Under-23 World Championships next month in Auckland, New Zealand. Shiver and Billington each placed fourth at U23 Worlds in Beijing in 2011.  

• Former world-class juniors Ben Kanute (Tucson, Ariz.) and Kevin McDowell (Colorado Springs, Colo.) are among the athletes making their Elite Nationals debut in Buffalo. Both originally from Geneva, Ill., McDowell (2009) and Kanute (2010, 2008) each claimed the USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championship title in recent years. McDowell was a medalist at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and the 2010 ITU Junior World Championships in Beijing.

• USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program, which aims to introduce talented collegiate runners and swimmers to post-graduate competition as a triathlete, will be well represented in Buffalo this weekend. Among the collegiate recruits looking for continued success at Elite Nationals are 2011 runner-up Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.) and 2011 under-23 national champion Kaitlin Shiver (Gainesville, Fla.), former runners at Notre Dame and Florida, respectively. Additionally, a handful of up-and-comers from the program will make their Elite Nationals debut.

• Saturday’s elite events also serve as the Buffalo ITU Pan American Cup, an international event featuring nearly 80 athletes from 11 countries. Among the international athletes slated to compete is 2012 Olympian Flora Duffy of Bermuda.  

• In addition to hosting the 2012 USA Triathlon Elite National Championship, the Nickel City Triathlon also plays host to the third and final race of the 2012 USA Paratriathlon Race Series. As of Tuesday, 18 paratriathletes are currently slated to compete in Sunday’s sprint-distance event championship event.