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USA Triathlon’s Best of 2014: Top Moments

photo: COMPETITIVE IMAGE
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photo: COMPETITIVE IMAGE
photo: COMPETITIVE IMAGE

The end of the year is here, and it’s time to reflect on the best moments in the sport. From new programming to record-breaking events, 2014 was a year to remember.

January 16-18 — Triathlon Earns NCAA Emerging Sport for Women Status
After more than four years of planning and coordination, triathlon received overwhelming approval from the NCAA Division I Legislative Council to be the next Emerging Sport for Women, creating new opportunities for student-athletes within the Olympic pipeline. The vote was 95 percent in favor at the DI level, and two days later, DII and DIII schools also voted in support of triathlon, with 96 percent approval for DII and 93 percent approval for DIII.

Feb. 11 — Physically Challenged Open Division Guidelines added to USA Triathlon Competitive Rules
In order to provide accommodations for more physically challenged athletes, USA Triathlon revised its official rulebook to include a groundbreaking new Physically Challenged (PC) Open Division. The rules modifications wallow competition opportunities to athletes with Americans with Disabilities Act-defined disabilities who may not fit into a paratriathlon medical classification, or who are unable to follow the strict equipment usage rules of paratriathlon.

April 1 — USA Triathlon and ITU Launch TRIFECTA Triathlon Fantasy Game
Not an April Fools’ joke! USA Triathlon and ITU announced TRIFECTA, the triathlon fantasy game that allows multisport fans from around the world to predict the elite men’s and women’s podium finishers at each ITU World Triathlon Series event.

April 5 – Five in a Row for Colorado
The University of Colorado came out on top at the 2014 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Tempe, Arizona, winning their fifth consecutive overall team title and the 15th in school history. Colorado scored 4,028 combined points for the overall team title, while UCLA was the second-place team overall, collecting 4,007 points, and Cal’s men and women combined for third place in the team competition with 3,878 points.

May 29 — USA Triathlon Foundation Unveiled
USA Triathlon officially announced the launch of its charitable fundraising arm, the USA Triathlon Foundation. Donations and grants will help instill fitness in children in underserved communities across the country, open the doors of participation to aspiring paratriathletes and fuel the Olympic dreams of America’s rising stars.

May — Jorgensen’s WTS Streak Begins
On May 17, Gwen Jorgensen picked up her first ITU World Triathlon Series title of the year, winning the Yokohama event for the second year in a row. Two weeks later on May 31, Jorgensen and Sarah Groff secured gold and silver medals at ITU World Triathlon London, the first 1-2 finish by American women since the World Triathlon Series was launched in 2009. Jorgensen moved to the No. 1 spot in the Threadneedle World Rankings, and Groff was third, putting them into prime position for the second half of the WTS season.

June 27-29 — ITU World Triathlon Series Hits Chicago
Age-group athletes traveled from 49 states and Washington, D.C., as well as 31 countries around the world, all to compete in the inaugural ITU World Triathlon Chicago in the heart of the city. A record first-year field of 4,000 triathletes swam in Lake Michigan, took to the streets surrounding Grant Park on the bike and run and finished on the blue carpet at Buckingham Fountain. Gwen Jorgensen captured her sixth career ITU World Triathlon Series victory on June 28, making history as the first woman from any country to claim six titles since the series launched in 2009.

Aug. 9-10 — Age Group Nationals Once Again Reaches Record Heights
Nearly 4,850 of the best amateur athletes from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., competed over two days with the action centered at the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World. Heather Lendway (St. Paul, Minn.) successfully defended her Olympic-Distance Nationals title, posting a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 7 seconds to top the women’s field for the second straight year, and Steve Mantell (Fort Collins, Colo.) posted the winning time overall for the men, clocking in at 1:50:59. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.) and Mike Meehan (Allison Park, Pa.) picked up the overall wins in Sunday’s Sprint Nationals.

Aug. 17 — Stephanie Jenks Strikes Silver at Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games
Junior triathlete Stephanie Jenks (Aurora, Iowa), earned the silver medal at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. “I’m really happy with it,” said Jenks, who was celebrating her 17th birthday along with her silver medal performance. “I went out and gave it my all. I raced with no regrets and I couldn’t have done any better.” Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) competed on Aug. 18 and finished 12th.

Aug. 23 — Sarah Groff Golden at ITU World Triathlon Stockholm
Sarah Groff raced her way to gold at the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Stockholm, earning her first career World Triathlon Series win and moving up to the second position in the world rankings ahead of the series Grand Final. The U.S. had three women finish in the top seven, with Lindsey Jerdonek celebrating her birthday alongside a fifth-place effort for her best finish in a World Triathlon Series race. Katie Hursey finished seventh for another personal best finish on the series circuit. In the men’s race, Ben Kanute just missed cracking the top 10, crossing the line in 11th place for his own personal highest finish position for a World Triathlon Series race.

Aug. 27-Sept. 1 — Americans Win World Championships Medal Count
At the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final and World Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, the U.S. team boasted more than 600 athletes hailing from 48 states and Washington, D.C., who won a total of 102 medals over the course of the week, including 39 gold medals in the three age-group events.

Aug. 30 — Jorgensen Clinches World Title at ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Edmonton
Gwen Jorgensen won the Grand Final race in Edmonton to become the first U.S. woman to win a world title since 2004. It is also the first for the U.S. since the World Triathlon Series was launched in 2009, when the championship was awarded to the athlete with the top points total after accumulating points over the season as opposed to a one-day world championship event.  The world title for Jorgensen came at the end of a record-breaking season in which she earned eight career ITU World Triathlon Series wins. Jorgensen won five titles just this season, becoming the only woman in WTS history to win five events in one season. Sarah Groff finished fourth in the race to clinch second in the overall series standings for a silver world championships medal. The U.S. had never finished 1-2 in an elite ITU World Championships before Aug. 30.

Sept. 25 — Triathlon’s 40th Birthday
The multisport world celebrated the 40th anniversary of the very first triathlon, held on Sept. 25, 1974. Forty years to the day after the first triathlon was held on the shores of San Diego’s Mission Bay, the pioneers of the nascent sport that combined swimming, cycling and running into an Olympic event and a lifetime passion for millions of people worldwide returned to this city for a historic reunion to swap anecdotes and share experiences about the early days of triathlon.

Nov. 2 — First Women’s Collegiate National Championships held in Clermont, Florida
The inaugural Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships were established as one of the early steps in recognizing triathlon’s status as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women. Held at Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, Florida, a field of women ages 16-25 competed on a draft-legal 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course. Kelly Kosmo of UCLA earned the title.

Dec. 5 — USA Triathlon Commits $2.6 Million for NCAA Women’s Varsity Grants
USA Triathlon announced the organization’s $2.6 million multi-year Women’s Triathlon Emerging Sport Grant, created to drive the establishment of NCAA women’s varsity triathlon programs. The grants will be awarded to NCAA Division I, II and III institutions in order to develop, implement, grow and sustain women’s triathlon at the collegiate level.

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