The 2012 ITU season officially gets underway this weekend, as the best of the Americas travel to Argentina for the PATCO Pan American Championships. In the women’s race, 2011 Pan Am Games bronze medallist Pamela Nascimento Oliveria (Brazil) will wear the No.1, but will face tough opposition from the likes of Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, Mexico’s Claudia Rivas and Michelle Flipo, Colombia’s Carolina Grimaldo, Ecuador’s Elizabeth Bravo, Brazil’s Flavia Fernandes, and Argentina’s Romina Palacios Balena, as well as the talented Anahi Leon (MEX) and previous winners Kathy Tremblay (CAN) and Jillian Petersen (USA).
In the men’s, seven of the top-10 finishers from last year’s Pan Am Games are on the start list including silver medallist Manuel Huerta (USA), bronze medallist Brent McMahon (CAN), fourth-placed finisher Kyle Jones (CAN) and Brazil’s triple Olympian Juraci Moreira, Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield, Barbados’ Jason Wilson and Chile’s Felipe Van de Wyngard.
About the race:
La Paz is north of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires in the province of Entre Ríos, based on the Paraná River. La Paz has hosted a Pan American Cup event each year since 2003 and two South American Championships, but this is the first time the city will host a PATCO continental championship event.
Elite Women: Sunday 15 January – 14:00 (UTC/GMT -3) Click here for time in your area
Elite Men: Sunday 15 January – 16:15 (UTC/GMT -3)
TOTAL PRIZE MONEY: $10,000 USD (equal for men & women)
The course starts with a two-lap 1.5km swim in the Paraná River, followed by a nine-lap mostly flat 40km bike course. The 10km four-lap run then takes athletes through the city and La Paz port to finish.
STORIES TO WATCH FOR: 2011 form carrying over into 2012 – Last year Canada’s Brent McMahon claimed his first World Cup win, while fellow Canadian Kyle Jones captured his best World Triathlon Series result and equal best World Cup finish. Colombia’s Carlos Javier Quinchara Forero his highest World Cup result, as did Ecuador’s Elizabeth Bravo. In the first few months of 2012 there is also an extra carrot to keep improving, Olympic qualification points. While the results of these PATCO championships do not automatically qualify spots in London for the winner’s NOCs, each athlete can gather valuable Olympic qualifying points. To read more on Olympic qualification click here.
Comeback kids – Argentina’s Oscar Galindez is a triple World Cup winner and Sydney Olympian who last competed in an ITU race in 2003, but is making his comeback to Olympic racing in La Paz. Canadian’s Lauren Campbell and Kirsten Sweetland haven’t had such a big break, but it will be the first race in over six months for both after their 2011 seasons were cut short. Campbell started well with 9th in Mooloolaba and 10th in Sydney, but spent the rest of the year on the sidelines with fatigue. Sweetland’s 2011 started with bike crashes in Mooloolaba and Sydney, which left her with a concussion, and then later in the season suffered stress fractures. Sweetland also has some unfinished business in PATCO championships, after she was disqualified in the 2010 race in Puerto Vallarta.
New faces to watch – It’s may be his first elite start, but Lukas Verzbicas (USA) has already gathered media coverage to rival the Brownlee brothers. After winning a Junior Men’s ITU World Championship in Beijing last year, he took up a college athletics scholarship in Oregon, before switching back to triathlon. La Paz will be his first ITU triathlon at the full Olympic distance. Also watch out for the USA’s Kaitlin Shiver, who finished fourth in the women’s Under23 world title race in Beijing and Canada’s Sarah-Anne Brault, a 2008 junior women’s PATCO champion.
PAST PATCO TRIATHLON PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONS
WOMEN MEN 2010 Puerto Vallarta PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships
Carla Moreno (BRA) Matt Chrabot (USA)
2009 Oklahoma PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships
Mary Beth Ellis (USA) Matthew Reed (USA)
2009 Mazatlan PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships
Jillian Petersen (USA) Matt Chrabot (USA)
2006 Brasilia PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships
Kathy Tremblay (CAN) Paul Tichelaar (CAN)
2005 Bogota PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships
Maria Carmenza Morales (COL) Ricardo Cardeno (COL)
2004 Acapulco PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships
Sheila Taormina (USA) Hunter Kemper (USA)
2003 Santo Domingo PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships
Jill Savege (CAN) Hunter Kemper (USA)
1997 Puerto Vallarta PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships
Carol Montgomery (CAN) Eligio Cervantes (MEX)