An appeal that ended up disqualifying the apparent winner of today’s World Triathlon Cup Vina Del Mar could affect the American Olympic team standings for Paris next year. Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Katie Zaferes had appeared to take the win in a dramatic sprint for the finish line, only to end up being disqualified for going off course at the end of the first lap. After a huge run that moved her to third place in the standings, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen put in an appeal, which resulted in the disqualification of four of the women who had been in a breakaway, giving Jorgensen the win, her fourth World Cup title of the year.
Jorgensen and Zaferes are both trying to make the Olympic team after giving birth in 2022. Another athlete affected by today’s result, Great Britain’s Vicky Holland, is also returning to competition after giving birth to her first child earlier this year.
After an excellent first transition, Zaferes was the driving force of a breakaway group of five that included Mathilde Gaultier (FRA), Anna Godoy Contreras (ESP), Tereza Zimovjanova (CZE) and Djenifer Arnold (BRA). The group was able to stay clear of the chase pack that included Jorgensen, Holland and another American with a running background, Gina Sereno.
The breakaway group ended up well clear of the chase group entering T2, but Zaferes struggled with her second transition and found herself chasing at the start of the run. Zaferes would run her way to the front, though, and charged into the lead. Unfortunately the American and the rest of the lead group took a wrong turn and would run through the finish line rather than follow the course which went alongside the finish chute. Arnold, realizing she was following the women the wrong way, turned around to follow the correct course.
Meanwhile, Jorgensen was flying through the run, steadily gaining on the group ahead. As the group started the final kick to the line, Jorgensen managed to pass Gaultier and Godoy to move into third. Zaferes sprinted away from Zimovjanova to apparently take the win, with Jorgensen taking third.
“But as athletes kept crossing the finish line, some athletes and coaches started filing protests against the ones that had taken the wrong course, with the Head referee putting the results on hold and the protests -four of them- taken to the Competition Jury,” World Triathlon stated in a release tonight.
That resulted in almost two hours of deliberation by race officials before the group of four who had run through the finish line at the end of the first lap were disqualified, putting Jorgensen, Sereno and Holland on the podium.
A dramatic end to the World Cup race in Chile saw Gwen Jorgensen earn gold! Gina Sereno is awarded silver and Vicky Holland ends the season with bronze.
The first two women who crossed along with 4th and 5th place were disqualified due to taking a wrong turn on the course. pic.twitter.com/Z7dcJpx6ow
— World Triathlon (@worldtriathlon) November 12, 2023
“I was concentrated on the course and took what for me at that moment was the logical path,” Zaferes said. “There were no officials directing us and I did not realize that we were slightly off the course. We passed through the finish gantry in all the laps of the bike and ride and that is what I naturally did on the run. It is unfortunate and of course unintentional, but as the rules state you need to follow the prescribed course and I didn’t do that. I am really proud of my performance today, though. I executed the race exactly as I had planned and am trying to focus on that.”
“This is not the way that you want to win a race,” Jorgensen said after the awards ceremony. “I would have much rather raced to the line on a fair competition, but we all knew the course and the map. When I saw them going straight I was very confused, I didn’t know why they were going that way and didn’t know what to do, but I decided to trust myself. I told myself that I know the course and I just should follow the course, and I took a longer line. It is a really unfortunate situation and we are all sad about it. But I had a good race. My swim was almost there. I’m coming from a lot of racing and I feel like I haven’t had the chance of training, I’m always either racing, recovering or traveling, with so many trips that I had to do to get points. But today I gave everything I had until the end, and I am proud of that.“
1 Gwen Jorgensen 57:28
2 Gina Sereno 58:00
3 Vicky Holland 58:10
Canadians Dominika Jamnicki and Emy Legault finished 10th and 15th.