The sale of Ironman to China’s Wanda Group was the biggest news story of the year, but what were the other news stories that top the list from 2015? Here are a few of our picks.
Wanda Group purchases Ironman
Sold for a reported $880 million ($650 million plus additional debt), Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group purchased Ironman last August.
“Wanda Group’s acquisition of IRONMAN marks another exciting chapter and opportunity for the future growth of IRONMAN after seven very successful years of ownership by Providence Equity Partners,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer for IRONMAN.
In November it was announced that two Wanda companies, In Front and Ironman, would be merged to create a new company called Wanda Sports.
It’s still too early to know how exactly this will affect athletes, especially those of us here in Canada, but you can certainly expect Ironman’s expansion to continue. This fall a number of new races were announced in both North and South America, along with a number of new races in Asia, too. That growth will no-doubt continue over the next few years.
Daniela Ryf becomes million dollar girl
As if the world championship double (Ironman 70.3 worlds in Zell Am See-Kaprun, Austria and the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii) weren’t enough of a prize purse haul, Daniela Ryf managed to take the “triple crown” by winning in Dubai earlier this year, then taking the 70.3 worlds and the final leg of the triple with a win at Ironman 70.3 Bahrain, the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship.
Changes at Challenge
Last fall we learned that the Challenge Family and Rev 3 would be merging here in North America, with Challenge expanding its reach here in North America with the acquisition of the “made in America” race series. A year later we learned that Rev 3 would be back on its own in 2016, then last week we learned that Rev 3 would offer a unique prize purse for pros, too.
The big news on the Challenge front, though, came last week when we learned that Felix Walchshöfer, formerly the CEO of the Challenge Family events, gave up that position so he and the rest of his family (sister Kathrin and mother Alice) could focus on Challenge Roth. That will leave Zibi Szlufcik to head up the Challenge series from here on in. Like Ironman there’s been a flurry of race announcements coming from Challenge of late. How these recent changes will affect the company and its growth will be interesting to see through 2016.
While he didn’t earn himself a million dollar bonus, Jan Frodeno’s year will certainly help his bank account. The German fulfilled the long distance promise he showed last year by dominating in all of his races throughout 2015, taking both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman world titles in style. His win in Zell required he beat Javier Gomez and Sebastian Kienle, two of the sports greatest athletes, then he did it all again five weeks later.
Anyone care to bet against Gwen Jorgensen in Rio next summer? Yeah, we wouldn’t, either. When the American took the WTS series title with her win in Chicago, it was her 12th consecutive WTS win. She got to round her year out with a big payday win at the new Island House Triathlon in the Bahamas (which, one might argue, was its own major news story of the year).
There might not have been 50 pro women on the start line in Kona this year, but the 50 Women to Kona initiative certainly helped raise awareness around the issues of women’s participation in the sport. Ironman started a Women for Tri initiative early in 2015, and other organizations like TriEqual have been making their voices heard in the quest for more women’s participation in the sport.