Kirsten Kasper Takes Silver at Huatulco World Cup

by USA Triathlon

— Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) earned a silver medal Saturday in Huatulco, Mexico, marking her second World Cup podium of 2021 and the 11th of her career. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) and Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.) also raced well, both landing in the top-10.

The Huatulco World Cup is the final event in the World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Period. The men’s race is set for Sunday, and four U.S. men are on the start list. After Sunday, the World Triathlon race calendar will pause until after the Tokyo Olympic Games. 

The elite women battled hot and humid conditions under overcast skies Saturday, covering a sprint-distance 750-meter ocean swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. 

Kasper was first out of the water in 9 minutes, 53 seconds. Japan’s Minori Ikeno and Russia’s Anastasia Gorbunova were hot on her heels, and nine more women followed within 10 seconds. On the bike, Kasper found herself at the head of a 20-woman lead pack, taking turns pushing the pace with Ackerlund, Tomlin, Austria’s Lisa Perterer and Japan’s Niina Kishimoto. While a few women faded over the three-lap course, the group was still 16-strong at the second transition — leaving the podiums to be decided on the run.

Halfway through the 5k run course, Denmark’s Alberte Kj R Pedersen led the field by just a few steps, followed closely by Perterer, Kasper and Canada’s Amelie Kretz. Ackerlund and Tomlin were still in the mix, running in sixth and seventh place respectively. 

Pedersen continued to gain ground over the final 2.5k, ultimately taking the win in 1:00:24, with a 12-second lead on the rest of the field. Kasper and Perterer ended in a sprint finish for silver and bronze, Kasper edging the Austrian at the line to take second place. 

“Lisa and I have trained together before, so it felt like practice. She’s a great competitor, so I had a lot of fun with that,” Kasper said. “I don’t know what’s next, but I’ll just keep training and keep progressing, and hopefully come August I’ll be able to be on the podium again.”

The podium performance is Kasper’s second of 2021, after earning bronze at the first World Cup of the season in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 23.

Ackerlund finished just 24 seconds off the podium in sixth, the second-best World Cup showing of her career (her best showing was fifth in Huatulco in 2018). Tomlin crossed the line in ninth, 16 seconds back from Ackerlund.

Also racing for the U.S. was Gina Sereno (Madison, Wis.), who finished 31st.

Olympic Qualification Process

The complete U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team will be named on Wednesday, June 16. Click here for a detailed timeline of Wednesday’s announcement, including a press release, Facebook Live event and media availabilities.

USA Triathlon designated two Auto-Selection Events for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team, in which athletes had the opportunity to auto-qualify for Tokyo by meeting specific criteria. The two Auto-Selection events were the 2019 ITU World Olympic Qualification Event on Aug. 4, 2019, and the 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama on May 15. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.) became the first woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team with a fifth-place finish at the 2019 Tokyo event. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.) joined Rappaport on the women’s roster by way of her victory May 15 in Yokohama, Japan, while Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) claimed the first spot on the men’s team thanks to a bronze-medal performance in Yokohama.

All remaining spots on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team, including at least one male and one female, will be selected via discretion by USA Triathlon’s Games Athlete Selection Committee and announced on June 16.

2021 World Triathlon Cup Huatulco
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run

Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Alberte Kj R Pedersen (DEN), 1:00:24
2. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 1:00:36
3. Lisa Perterer (AUT), 1:00:37

U.S. Finishers
2. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 1:00:36
6. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), 1:01:01
9. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), 1:01:17
31. Gina Sereno (Madison, Wis.), 1:04:47

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 4,000 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).
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