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PTO Canadian Open out for 2023

Organizers look for return in 2024

Photo by: PTO/ PTO Canadian Open

The Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) Canadian Open isn’t going to happen in 2023, but event organizers are hopeful we’ll see the race back on the calendar in 2024. Organized by Do North Events, a company formed from the crew that staged the World Triathlon events in Edmonton for almost 20 years, last year’s PTO Canadian Open was deemed a success by pretty much everyone involved. With a time slot right after Eurosport’s coverage of the final stage of the Tour de France, the race garnered exceptional television ratings.

Unfortunately the event is dependent on government funding, and the Edmonton City Council wasn’t able to commit funds for the 2023 race in time. While provincial funding might have still been an option, with Alberta heading into an election this summer, any decisions on funding were likely to be delayed, forcing organizers to pull the plug on this year’s race.

PTO Canadian Open winner Gustav Iden congratulates runner-up Kristian Blummenfelt at the finish line. Photo: PTO

As a show of support for the race in Edmonton, the PTO won’t be trying to replace the Canadian Open, which means the PTO Tour will consist of four, rather than five, races this year.

“We are growing the PTO Tour from three events to four in 2023 and very focussed on learning from our inaugural year to develop the professional sport,” PTO CEO Sam Renouf said. “Unfortunately, this means we haven’t been able to include the Canadian Open on this year’s calendar, but we hope to return to Canada in future editions. Canada as triathlon nation has always ‘punched above its weight’ – be that our Collins Cup captain Simon Whitfield’s first ever Olympic medal in 2000, the countless Ironman Champions and more recently the 2020 PTO Champion Paula Findlay. I am sure 2023 will see some top performances from Canadian athletes on the tour.”

Related: Iden wins the PTO Canadian Open

While disappointed, Do North General Manager Stephen Bourdeau admits there are some upsides to this decision. If the event can get some firm financial commitments for 2024, organizers can do some “long planning” for the race in 2024.

“Rather than rushing in, we’re going to focus on the long term,” Bourdeau said. “With the closure of Hawrelak Park, we’re excited to go to ‘Plan B,’ which means swimming in the river and a new, unique, venue. Hopefully we’ll be able to do a test event this summer in preparation for next year’s race.”

Related: 5 Things we learned at the PTO Canadian Open

Paula Findlay at the PTO Canadian Open, 2022. Photo: PTO

At last year’s race Edmonton native Paula Findlay led for much of the day, eventually finishing second to Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle. Findlay will no-doubt be disappointed that she won’t be back in Edmonton this summer, but can look forward to a potential return to Edmonton in 2024.

Related: Gentle wins the PTO Canadian Open, Findlay second

The cancellation of this year’s PTO Canadian Open adds to the challenges the PTO has been facing as it looks to confirm the races in its Tour for 2023. According to Renouf, one of the issues has been getting city permits to shut down streets at the venues, which are set within some large city centres. With $1 million prize purses, though, athletes will be willing to wait for the final two races to be announced – it’s worth it. And, while the tour will be missing one event in 2023, it is still a game changer for pros in the sport with $4.5 million up for grabs in the Tour ($1 million at the opens and $1.5 million at the Collins Cup). Add to that the $2 million in bonus money the PTO hands out to the top 100 athletes in its standings, too. All of which means it will be well worth the wait to hear where and when those final races will be.

The challenges the PTO has gone through to finalize these new events only adds to the reasoning why the organization appears to be keen on getting back to Edmonton in 2024. It’s a city with a long history of hosting world class events. The organizers, Do North, are so good at what they do that they’ve been hired to help with other major events around the world, including WTCS Bermuda, among others. If the funding can be put in place, the PTO can be quite sure everything else will fall in place. So, it sucks that we won’t be heading to Edmonton in July to see the world’s best triathletes. Here’s hoping we’ll get to do that in 2024.