Triathletes Jenkins, Jones give Canada strong World Cup team

Hamilton’s Colin Jenkins will be looking for first World Cup points on Sunday at the Corner Brook (Newfoundland) World Cup triathlon.

Colin Jenkins

Jenkins, the national Under-23 champion, is one of two area triathletes forming part of the Canadian contingent in a field featuring several of the world’s top competitors. Oakville’s Kyle Jones, the third highest ranked Canadian on the World Cup Rankings, hopes to better his 13th place finish in Edmonton on July 9 and his 14th in Mazatlan, Mexico in May. Jones is ranked 54th in the World just three spots behind Simon Whitfield, the 2000 Olympics gold medallist.

Whitfield is competing at Corner Brook, only his second World Cup of the season, He placed ninth in Mazatlan but has already earned a spot at the World Championships based on his sixth place finish last season at the World’s in Gamagori, Japan.

While past Olympic and World Champions are competing on Sunday, much attention will be at a young Canadian trying to capture her first ever World Cup podium finish in the women’s division.

Lauren Groves, a 24-year-old from Vancouver, is ranked #3 on the most recent World Cup Rankings – the highest of her career and the best of any Canadian triathlete. Groves is close to taking over the No. 2 ranking, sitting just two points behind Andrea Whitcombe, last year’s Corner Brook World Cup Champion.

Whitcombe is not entered, in this ninth World Cup of the season. Groves has a fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh in her four World Cup starts.

The last time a Canadian had a podium finish in a World Cup race in Canada was three years ago when Jill Savege took the gold medal in Corner Brook.

For the ninth straight World Cup race this season, Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes and Australia’s Emma Snowsill will not compete in the same event. The last time they raced together was back in 2005 in the last triathlon of the season at New Plymouth, New Zealand, with Fernandes capturing the gold medal. These two women have dominated the 2006 Series to date winning five of the eight World Cups. In the three they didn’t win; neither athlete was in the field. Snowsill won the race in Edmonton on July 9th while Fernandes took the week off.

Fernandes, #1 in the World Cup Rankings, has a perfect record on the World Cup circuit this season winning in Aqaba, Mazatlan and Madrid; She will be trying to equal the mark she set last season when she won 4 World Cup races. Fernandes has not lost an Olympic Distance race since the World Championships in 2005 and is the heavy favourite to win in Corner Brook.

Others to look out for include: World ranked No. 5 Kate Allen, from Austria, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist; Germany’s Anja Dittmer and Australia’s Emma Moffat, who finished runner-up to Snowsill nine days ago in Edmonton.

The Canadian contingent consists of eight women. Competing in only her third Olympic Distance race and first World Cup of the season is Samantha McGlone. McGlone, from Otterburn Park, Quebec, was the top ranked Canadian last year, finishing ninth at the World Championships and ended the year No. 12 on the final World Cup Rankings. Four days a ago, McGlone was the third best female at the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon event in Minneapolis and on July 2, McGlone finished eighth at the National Championships in Brampton.

Penticton, BC’s, Savege, is looking for her first World Cup top-eight finish of the season. Jill finished tenth in Mazatlan and twelfth in Edmonton. A top-8 finish would guarantee Jill a spot for the up-coming World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland in September. This World Cup race in Corner Brook, one of three designated races for the athletes to earn a spot for the World Championships, is the final opportunity to qualify for this major championship.

Edmonton’s Carolyn Murray is in a similar situation for the World Championships. Last year in Corner Brook Murray placed eighth and she would dearly love to match or better that result this time around. Murray has completed one World Cup event in 2006 – a 12th in Mazatlan. Murray is the fourth highest ranked Canadian on the World Cup Rankings at No. 56.

Gillian Kornell is hoping to duplicate her fourth place finish at the Corner Brook World Cup from a year ago. Kornell’s best finish in 2006 was in the third World Cup of season, when she finished 13th in Mooloolaba.

Also competing this weekend are Pickering’s Alicia Kaye, the newly crowned U23 National Champion, National team member, Ayesha Rollinson, from Toronto, Development team member, Tara Ross from Victoria and Calgary’s Lisa Mensink – fifth at the Nationals this month.

The men’s field will pose a tough challenge for the Canadians looking to qualify for the World’s. Last year in Corner Brook, the best finish for Canada was 22nd by Marc Despaties. This year 8 men will be aiming for multiple top-10 performances.

Whitfield, in only his second World Cup of the season, Whitfield will be looking to better his 9th place finish in Mazatlan and climb up the World Cup Rankings – Simon is ranked #51 in the world. Whitfield, 2000 Olympic Games Champion, has already earned a spot at the World Championships based on his 6th place finish last season at the World Championships in Gamagori, Japan.

Brent McMahon, from Victoria, needs a strong race in Corner Brook to earn a spot for the World Championships. In the other qualifying races Brent was 30th in Mazatlan and a he did not finish in Edmonton.

Also competing for Canada on Sunday are Sean Bechtel, Nick Hastie, Jordan Bryden and Mathieu Bilodeau.

Outside of the Canadians, the Men’s field is loaded with talent. Hamish Carter, 2004 Olympic gold medallist and the recent World Cup Champion from Edmonton will represent New Zealand as he goes for back-to-back titles World Cup titles – unprecedented in the 2006 World Cup season. Carter’s ranking of 19th is way down, however; this is just his second World Cup race of the season.

American Hunter Kemper, World Ranked No. 1 will be looking for his first win of the season. In 2005, Kemper won twice and ended the year ranked No. 1.

Four of the world’s top-six men are competing in Corner Brook this weekend. Spain’s Javier Gomez is ranked third globally due in large part to his victory in the World Cup of Madrid. Also racing on Sunday is countryman Ivan Rana, the 2002 World Champion currently ranked sixth in the world.

Bruno Pais, from Portugal, is also chasing his first win of the season. Pais is tied for third with Gomez, with one podium finish and two fourth place results in three starts this season.

American Jarrod Shoemaker, fresh off a silver medal in Edmonton, will be hoping to continue his momentum right into Corner Brook and move his ranking into the top-10.

Another American not to be overlooked is Andy Potts. He was second in Mazatlan, third in Ishigaki, and ranked 10th in the world. Potts has experience winning in Canada, taking the 2005 Edmonton World Cup.

And finally, Reto Hug, second earlier this year at the World Cup in Richards Bay is ranked 22nd in the world. Hug, from Switzerland, is the defending silver medallist at last year’s World Championships.