After hiccups, USAT Nationals lands in Kansas City

Ex race director pleads guilty to fraud
USAT acting executive director Yount resigns
USAT special election results are in
Blue Ribbon Panel chastens USAT's board, sets new elections
Kemper, Lindquist first to qualify for Athens
USOC's Blue Ribbon Panel starts its work
Bylaw petition arrives at USAT's office
All sides agree to USOC's "blue ribbon panel"
USAT's board meeting that wasn't
Legal action threatened over elections
USOC weighs in heavily on USAT's infamous election

Grinder: election flawed
Honolulu AG Worlds on hold
Steve Larsen: Thanks for the memories
Ex-president Grinder to explore election's legality
U.S. age-groupers bring home hardware from 2003 Worlds
USAT's election to be challenged
USAT's election results announced
The New York World Cup tri... no... duathlon
Lessing bags another win at Pac Coast
Olympic picture coming into focus in the U.S.
20 St. Pete Mad Dogs struck by motorist while on group ride
Andy Potts gets a second chance
Lessing is back, and then some!
Resurgent Lessing storms Bellingham
Larsen can't dethrone Stoltz at Big Bear
Yanks strong at St. Kitts
Spencer Smith racks up win at Gulf Coast
Taormina tears up Clermont
DeBoom, Gollnick take Wildflower rainfest
Reebok mirrors Danskin with women's tri series
Armstrong wins Dirty Duathlon
Siri Lindley abruptly retires
Treasure Island Tri: Lessing, Gibbs


After hiccups, USAT Nationals lands in Kansas City

Febuary 4, 2005, Colorado Springs, Colorado (slowtwitch news service™)

Following months of rumors and false alarms, the date and place of the 2005 USA Triathlon National Age Group Championship is fixed. The 1.5k/40k/10k triathlon will take place in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 13.

The race was all but set in Rochester in late June. But the Upstate New York community pulled out of the running, and USAT began a frantic search for a replacement venue. A variety of cities were rumored as suitors, with Chattanooga, Tennessee and Raleigh, North Carolina among them. At one point several weeks ago a rumor had Charlotte, N.C., as the almost certain site. During a hastily-called meeting this past Monday USAT's board of directors okayed the Kansas City bid. Sources have interim executive director and director of Lubbock's popular Buffalo Springs Triathlon, Mike Greer, as the man who struck the deal with Mark Livesay of Ultramax Events.

This year’s national championship will be owned by USA Triathlon, produced by Livesay, and supported by the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation. The event will take place at Smithville Lake amid what USAT styles as "rolling hills and grasslands." The race site is located about 10 miles from the Kansas City International Airport (MCI) and 17 miles from downtown Kansas City.

This race will be the second qualifier for the 2005 International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Age Group Championship on Oct. 8-9 in Honolulu, Hawaii. There will be 10 slots on Team USA available per age group, rolling down to 18th if people in the top 10 do not accept their slots. Race registration will open soon at

According to sources at USA Triathlon, Nationals at Kansas City is a one-year affair, a departure from the two-year deals struck with venues over much of the past decade. USA Triathlon is reportedly still interested in pursuing the idea of a permanent Nationals venue for 2006 and thereafter.

Ex race director pleads guilty to fraud

January 3, 2005, Madison, Wisconsin (

The former director of a popular Madison-based Wisconsin Multisport Series, pleaded no contest, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, to violating state securities laws.

Mackenzie's woes were chronicled in a Slowtwitch feature article in 2001. Since that time Mackenzie has faced mounting legal pressure. According to the Journal's report, Mackenzie can be sentenced to probation, or jail time not exceeding six months. The report goes on to detail the timing and other considerations regarding MacKenzie's plea agreement.


USAT acting executive director Yount resigns

July 7, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

On the same day results were announced in the USAT special board of directors election, 16-year USAT veteran Tim Yount resigned his post. Yount had been deputy executive director for all but the first five years of USAT's existence.

Yount was hired right out of college by then USAT executive director Mark Sisson, now the secretary general of the International Triathlon Union, triathlon's world governing body. Yount reportedly has accepted another sports governance related position in Colorado.


USAT special election results are in

July 7, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

The new election ordered by the USOC's Blue Ribbon Panel has been held and the results are in. Replacing Diane Travis (who did not run) in the East region is Rob Kasper. Former USAT president Valerie Ellsworth-Gattis was defeated by former USAT executive director Steve Locke, and Slowtwitch publisher Dan Empfield won in the West, replacing Jim Girand.

Jack Weiss won his race in the Central Division. He was the only board member who retained a seat in the election.

All other eight seats remain as they were. As a result of the board shake-up, USAT has no executive council, there is currently no president, treasurer, or secretary. The board must be a functioning institution no later than the 12th of July according to the 17-page decision handed down by the USOC's Blue Ribbon Panel.

The vote tallies are below.

Eastern Region
Rob Kasper 473
Tom Biery 448
Dave Ragsdale 405
Robert Pozo 261
Neil Cook 192

Central Region
Jack Weiss 743
Lew Kidder 625
Bill Burke 213

Western Region
Daniel Empfield 781
Terry Davis 351
Jim Girand 241
Jose Valdes 136
Lynne Fonda-Kosorek 39

At Large
Steve Locke 3,098
Valerie Ellsworth-Gattis 1,314


Blue Ribbon Panel chastens USAT's board, sets new elections

May 17, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

The Blue Ribbon Panel set up by the US Olympic Committee to adjudicate USA Triathlon's election dispute has rendered its decision:

"After considering all the evidence and arguments presented by the parties, the Panel concludes that the 2003 election was flawed and directs that a new election be held as soon as is practicable."

The Respondents, current board members Jim Girand, Valerie Ellsworth-Gattis (USAT president), and Diane Travis, were cleared of the most serious charges, though the Panel appeared to stop just this side of that assessment:

"The Panel did not hear any evidence that the Respondents committed fraud or that they changed any ballot, discarded any ballot or in any other way tampered with the election results. They proceeded under the rules as they were published by USAT, ill conceived as they were. However, the Panel questions the judgment of those individuals, as well as their motives, in advocating for and supporting USAT's election rules and then in engaging in practices under those rules that were perceived as improper and as casting doubt on the credibility of the election. Their actions, at times, were certainly not of a caliber one would expect of candidates for Director positions on a National Governing Body. The Panel questions whether those candidates let their own personal aspirations override good judgment. Certainly they should have understood that their actions would raise the specter of impropriety and cast doubt on the election process, especially since they were sitting Board members."

In ordering a new election, the Panel set forth election rules to supplant those in USAT's bylaws and its "Rules of Engagement." Candidates must submit petitions with signatures of 30 annual members by May 28, written ballots must be sent to the membership by June 14, and members have two weeks to vote for their candidates. Election results shall be announced by July 7, and by Juy 12, 2004, the new board shall be seated.

The Panel did not broach the subject of the member petition submitted by Lew Kidder and publisher Dan Empfield. However, the Panel has kept in place a moratorium on the power of the current Board to meet and conduct business, fogging the question of who is responsible for executing the petition.

Also in question is whether the federation shall have to pay what are certain to be the substantial legal bills of the Respondents. USAT's Bylaws say the federation will bear the legal bills of Directors in most cases. At the same time, the Panel finds the Respondents guilty of egregious lapses of judgment.

The Panel's full, 17-page decision shall be posted on USA Triathlon's website and is also ordered emailed to the entire membership. Here are the Panel's salient points in its decision:

"Nothing is more important, or sacred, than that an election be conducted under rules that are beyond reproach and which do not give rise to the perception of impropriety or cause any doubt as to the fairness of the election. The rules under which USAT's Board election was conducted were ill conceived, contrary to normal election practices and allowed for improper election practices by candidates.

"... Under the Panel's analysis, even if the rules were approved, they were so adverse to proper election practices that the election was tainted and cannot stand.

"... Rules that allow candidates to disbritute ballots to voters give rise to the possibility of improper methods of electioneering. Allowing candidates to collect the ballots once marked only compounds the impropriety. An individual who votes in an election should be allowed the opportunity to do so freely, at a time when it is convenient for the voter and when the voter has the time and opportunity to consider the issues and candidates presented. Handing out a ballot by the candidate or his or her agent, waiting for the voter to mark the ballot and then collecting the ballot subjects the voter, at the very least, to improper influence and, at the most, to coercion. A voter should be free to vote for the candidate of his or her choice, with confidence that he or she can cast his or her ballot anonymously. The voter should not feel pressured to vote for the candidate handing out the ballot nor should there be the actual or perceived threat of retribution if the voter casts his or her vote for a candidate other than the one who is handing out the ballot. There are valid and compelling reasons why elections are conducted so that votes can be cast anonymously and why candidates and their agents are not allowed within a certain distance of the voting booth. It is to ensure fairness in the election process. The process as conducted by USAT presents a picture of an election where the candidate or his or her agent stands over the voting box to insure the predetermined result. Even if such was not the case in USAT's election, the perception of impropriety has tainted the election result.

"Further, rules that allow candidates and their agents to collect ballots, look at the ballots to ensure that they are marked properly and then submit the ballots to the vote counter is an open invitation to tampering and fraud. Candidates have no place in this aspect of the election. Those activities must be conducted by an independent nonpartisan person who has no stake in the election. Elections must be run under the most stringent safeguards to ensure fairness and confidence in the election results.

"... contrary to Respondent's position that overturning the election would create uncertainty among USAT's members and sponsors, the Panel believes that the exact opposite is true. The electorate and those persons who provide financial resources to USAT must have faith that USAT, in its elections and in its governance, is run in a managerially sound and ethical manner. USAT, as the USOC recognized National Governing Body for Triathlon, holds a special trust in sport in the United States. That trust must not be tainted.

"... The Panel holds USAT's Board accountable for the election rules that were used in the 2003 election. The Panel also holds the Board accountable for not heeding the advice of Mr. Backer, Co-Chair of the Legal Committee and Mr. Grinder, Board Counsel. If the Board had listened to Mr. Backer, candidates would not have been allowed to distribute, gather and submit ballots. If the Board had listened to Mr. Grinder, the Board would have either conducted a new election or submitted the Challenge filed by Mr. Greer, Ms. Buxton, Mr. Vigorito and Mr. Duke to panel for review."


Kemper, Lindquist first to qualify for Athens

April 19, 2004, Honolulu, Hawaii (

America's best ITU-style pros, Barb Lindquist and Hunter Kemper, can each breath a sigh of relief after their performances in Athens on Sunday. Both qualified for the U.S. Olympic triathlon team at the 2004 USA Triathlon Race to Athens in Honolulu.

Next to come chronologically will be the World Triathlon Championship race in Portugal in May and, as was is the case in Oahu, the first U.S. man and woman across the line will make the team. If either Lindquist or Kemper is the first American in Portugal then the slot rolls down to the next best placing American.

A Bellingham, Washington race in June may play a part in the Olympic selection. The third member of the Olympic team in each gender will have up to four score components: their placings in the three races just mentioned, and their world ranking. The two lowest totals, added together, represents one's "score" for the purposes of Olympic selection. Lowest score wins the third slot.

Factoring in one's World ranking will weigh heavily in the women's team selection, as Lindquist, Sheila Taormina, and Laura Reback are likely to hold the top three places in the ITU rankings through next Spring and Summer. This means that other Olympic hopefuls Becky Gibbs-LaVelle, Susan Williams, Joanna Zeiger and others almost certainly will have to be the first American in either Oahu or Portugal to make the Olympic team.

Lindquist, ranked No. 1 in the world, handled the Hawaii hills and heat to win the women’s race in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 21 seconds. Liz Blatchford of Australia was second in 2:07:33 and Susan Williams (Littleton, Colo.) was third in 2:07:36.

“I’m just really excited I get to represent the U.S. in Athens,” said Lindquist, who missed making the 2000 Olympic team when she succumbed to the heat at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Triathlon in Dallas. “The energy here was amazing. I really wasn’t nervous at all.”

Sheila Taormina (Livonia, Mich.), ranked No. 3 in the world, stayed ahead of the pack with Lindquist on the swim and bike, but faded on the run and finished fourth. Laura Reback (North Palm Beach, Fla.), ranked No. 2 in the world, succumbed to the wind and the hills on the bike and finished 10th. Joanna Zeiger (Baltimore, Md.), a 2000 U.S. Olympic triathlete, had to drop out during the bike.

Kemper was second overall in the men’s race to Canada’s Simon Whitfield, the 2000 Olympic triathlon gold medalist, who won in 1:55:52. Kemper finished in 1:55:57 and Miles Stewart of Australia was third in 1:56:09.

“I was pretty tired when I got off the bike, but I got the run done. I got the job done,” Kemper said. “This course is very indicative of how Athens is going to be.”

Andy Potts (Princeton, N.J.) finished fifth overall and was the second American. Victor Plata (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) placed ninth overall and was the third American.

Australians Greg Bennett, Richie Cunningham and Stewart held a lead on a pack of 15 mostly U.S. athletes for much of the bike. But the run spread out the field.



USOC's Blue Ribbon Panel starts its work

March 9, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

The case has gone to the jury. Both sides of USA Triathlon's political squabble submitted papers to the USOC's Blue Ribbon Panel. The Panel consists of the following five members:

• Thurgood Marshall, Jr., attorney
• Mary McCagg, athlete
• Tom Satron, attorney & chair of USOC Membership/Credentials
• Barbara Smith
• Glenn Wong, attorney

The Panel will consider the packages submitted by various attorneys, and will then schedule a hearing on the grievance. That may take place, according to USAT's attorney Craig Stewart, "as early as March 15, 2004." Stewart expects that "...the entire Panel process will be completed no later than the end of March." One USAT board member, however, suggested mid-April.

Both those who've sued and the defendents, who taken together make up the large majority of USAT's board, have agreed to be bound by the Panel's decision.

Still looming, however, is the petition submitted by a group of USAT's members, which call for new elections and consists of a rewrite of about a third of USAT's bylaws. The Panel is aware of the petition, but as of yet has not issued a response.


Bylaw petition arrives at USAT's office

February 12, 2004, Valyermo, California (

A petition authored by former USAT board member Lew Kidder and publisher Dan Empfield arrived at USAT's national office today, and under USAT's bylaws the petition must be subjected to a vote of all USAT's roughly 47,000 annual members. The petition had well more than the 100 signatures of annual members, and consists of a rewrite of USAT's bylaws. The petition in full is here, an the highlights of the new proposed bylaws are as follows.



If approved by the majority of USAT members voting on the question, this petition (2004 BYLAW REVISION) would amend federation bylaws in the ways described below. Petitioners are encouraged to read the entire petition prior to signing. In order to facilitate a clear explanation of what lies herein, people signing this petition will see several major changes to the Bylaws as outlined below:

**REFORM OF ELECTORAL DISTRICTS. Currently, USATís Board of Directors has 11 seats. Three are chosen by the pro (elite) athletes (a requirement of USOC), while the remaining eight ìGeneral Directorsî are chosen by vote of annual members. The proposed amendments would eliminate ìat largeî directors, and create eight separate districts, with one ìGeneral Directorî to be elected from each. The proposed districts have been rationalized in part by population (each district has a roughly similar number of annual members) and in part by geographic proximity.

**REFORM OF ELECTION SCHEDULING AND PROCEDURES. By terms of this petition, USAT annual elections would be moved to the ìoff-season,î with voting in February instead of August through October. Additionally, election procedures would be reformed to reduce the potential for manipulation. The scheduling change calls for the new board to take office on July 1 of each year, which gives that board a chance to put a plan in place for the upcoming year and then oversee the execution of that plan. This would replace the current schedule, in which a new board takes office on January 1 and executes plans conceived of by the old board.

**STRENGTHENS AND LIMITS THE RIGHTS OF INITIATIVE AND RECALL. The rights of initiative and recall, fundamental to citizen control of its own government, would be strengthened and preserved, with votes on initiatives taking place once per annum or at any time of the year, depending on the number of signatures on a petition.

**RIGHT TO AMEND BYLAWS WOULD BE RESERVED TO A VOTE OF ALL ANNUAL MEMBERS. Approval of the amendments embodied in the petition would ensure the right to amend our ìconstitutionî could take place only by vote of the annual members. The current Bylaws allows this to take place by vote of the Board of Directors.

**REQUIRES OPEN AND FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION TO MEMBERS. Under these amendments, actions of the federationóincluding minutes of all board meetings and detailed financial statementsówould have to be disclosed promptly and fully to the membership.

All terms of current Directors shall be truncated, and all regions shall have elections for a new board which shall take office on October 1, 2004; the schedule for this election is detailed in the petition. A new Board of Directors shall be elected according to the bylaws contained in this petition, and shall serve another nine-month term, ending on July 1, 2005. Thenceforth all board members must run for reelection every year.

No one shall serve more than six total years on the board of directors during oneís lifetime, or past July 1, 2006, whatever would afford a board member the longest tenure.

The petition was also sent via email to USAT's board members, those having filed suit to force a new board of directors election, the USOC, and the attorney's for all sides.


All sides agree to USOC's "blue ribbon panel"

February 12, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

Board members currently serving terms as USAT, plus complainants that have filed suit to force a new board of directors election, have agreed to submit to a blue ribbon panel appointed by the USOC to adjudicate the current fracas over the most recent board of directors election.

Everyone on all sides was supposed to have signed the agreement by late today.


USAT's board meeting that wasn't

February 12, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

USAT's board convened this past weekend for its first quarterly meeting of the year. Everyone on the board was present—minus Kevin Carter—as well as the heads of several committees and representatives of various regional federations.

But those board hopefuls who were, or felt they were, disenfranchised by a badly conceived election process, were granted an injunction forbidding the board from meeting. As a result, the board members and three commission heads occupied their time via a variety of distractions, none of which involved meeting as a group.

Certain groups, such as the officials committee and regional federation heads, were able to do business, as long as no board members were present and excepting any decisions that required board approval.


Legal action threatened over elections

January 27, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

The majority bloc of USAT's current board of directors received the second of two unwanted letters yesterday. The attorneys for four candidates unsuccessful in last Fall's board of directors election, plus two current board members, "hereby demand that you immediately take action to declare the results of the 2003 board of directors elections invalid," and call for a "new, fair election," plus an investigation of "certain individuals as to whether they violated the USAT Bylaws and/or applicable laws."

This demand letter comes only one working day after the USOC lowered the boom on USAT's board by strongly encouraging it to clean up its image and election practices.

The petitioners are recently unsuccessful candidates Michael Greer, Robert Vigorito, Karen Buxton and John Duke, as well as current board members Ray Plotecia and Jack Weiss. Also copied on the letter is the USOC's General Counsel Jeffrey Benz.

Multiple sources indicate the legal fund for a possible suit exceeds $10,000, and the petitioners vow to take legal action should the current board fail to call for new elections. "These actions," continue the letter, "will likely include actions against individual members of the Board of Directors resulting from negligent or willful conduct amounting to violations of their fiduciary duties owed to USAT." The letter gives USAT one week to comply.

The Colorado Springs based law firm representing the petitioners is Holme Roberts & Owen, LLP, a firm specializing in national governing body law. The attorneys are Steve Smith and Jill Chalmers, formerly elite triathlete Jill Newman.


USOC weighs in heavily on USAT's infamous election

January 27, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

USOC's Managing director of Legal Affairs, Jeffrey Benz, sent a shot across USA Triathlon's bow last Friday in the form of a sternly worded letter. The recipient was Tim Yount, USA Triathlon's acting Executive Director since the resignation in protest by long time E.D. Steve Locke. The context of the letter suggests it was aresponse to a query by Yount.

Benz addressed himself as "USOC's General Counsel and Acting Ethics Officer," and expressed concern over the questions and "attack" surrounding the election, "perhaps for reasons that may have validity." Benz' letter suggested remedies that the USOC is prepared to help implement.

USAT's board of director's election held last Fall is now squarely on USOC's radar, as the letter was copied to USOC's president, Bill Martin, as well as to USAT's president Valerie Gattis. Also copied were USOC's Chief Executive Jim Scherr, its legal director Gary Johansen, its Director of Sport Partnerships Chris Vadala and Leslie Gamez, from the same office.

The letter ought to be of special concern to USAT's elites, who receive the lion's share of their funding from the USOC. The office of Sports Partnership team is the USOC's liaison with USAT.

Also copied was American Olympian triathlete Nick Radkewich, the liaison between USAT's elite athletes and the the USOC.

The letter reads, in full:

Thank you for spending time with us explaining the current situation with USA Triathlon's Board of Directors and the recent election process at USA Triathlon and issues arising therefrom.

Based on the information you shared and a review of the documentation provided me by Valerie Gattis, I am concerned that the current board (some of whom are direct beneficiaries of the outcome of any decision on the election issue and others of whom were involved in the decision to approve the process that was used) may be incapable of rendering a decision on this issue that is free from the perception of a conflict of interest.

Based on your request for guidance, it is my recommendation, as the USOC's General Counsel and Acting Ethics Officer, that USA Triathlon name a five-person, independent "blue ribbon" panel to review the issues that have been raised surrounding the election process for board positions at USA Triathlon.

All parties involved should commit in advance to accepting the recommendations of the Panel, without knowing what those will be, except for any recommendations that might violate the USA Triathlon bylaws or appropriate law. We can assist in recommending independent candidates that could serve on the Panel.

To allow this process to occur, I would recommend that USA Triathlon postpone the February 6-8 Board of Directors meeting and suspend addressing anything but the most necessary issues until this issue is resolved. Obviously, this would require a relatively short timeframe for the Panel to conduct its work, which should be set on then order of 30 days.

There is no issue more fundamental to the managerial and financial competency of an organization than its ability to demonstrate to the world that its directors are elected fairly and in accordance with appropriate standards. The fact that this issue is under attack, and perhaps for reasons that may have validity, underscores the importance of USA Triathlon attempting to resolve this matter in a manner that is perceived of as fair, appropriate, and free from politics. I believe that our recommendation about the creation and use of the Panel will ensure that this issue is resolved to the benefit of USA Triathlon. I am sure that USA Triathlon does not want this issue to get public attention comparable to the issues that were raised recently in the governance disputes in the International Triathlon Union and that USA Triathlon would like to avoid having to spend on legal fees and possible increased insurance premiums money that could be better utilized preparing athletes to train to win Olympic and world medals. Our recommendation concerning the creation of the Panel brings in neutral decisionmakers, allows the dissenters to have their "day in court" before the Panel without the need for expending the legal fees that would be required for litigation, and permits a relatively quick decision so that USA Triathlon can get back to the business at hand of addressing athlete performance.

It is our hope and expectation that USA Triathlon gives this the utmost attention and will work to resolve this issue in an expedited manner. In light of the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens, I am confident we all agree this needs to be settled so we can place the focus back on the athletes, coaches, programs and membership and give them the attention and support that they deserve and expect. We look forward to receiving USA Triathlon's views of this matter, and we stand ready to assist as appropriate.


Steve Locke resigns as USAT executive director

January 12, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

USA Triathlon is without the executive director its known for most of its existence. Today Steve Locke resigned as the chief executive of an organization he's led for 13 years.

Locke had one full year left on a management contract, and by resigning presumably gives up a significant pay package. His reasons for resigning are the management style of the current board of directors, and the decision of that board to uphold the recent election. Locke wrote, "It is incredible to me that this Board can rationalize an acceptance of an election so flawed as an authentic election."

Locke leaves a much stronger federation than he inherited in 1991, with better than $2 million in cash and equivalents, well over 1000 sanctioning races, and 47,000 annual members. Locke's letter announcing his resignation is below:

Good afternoon,

Today I tendered my resignation from USA Triathlon as Executive Director effective immediately. I have rendered this resignation for several reasons. Chief among them is a disagreement with the direction this Board is taking and the ethics they are displaying.

In 1981, I was initiated to triathlon by participating in several events; in 1983, I was involved in creating a race management company which originated and conducted around 20 events a year (5 annually were multisport); in December of 1991 I assumed the position of Executive Director of the then Triathlon Federation USA and now USA Triathlon. Over the years,I have developed quite an investment in our sport both personally and from a business perspective.

In 1991 when I assumed the Executive Director position we were in deficit spending. Our races sanctioned hovered around 375, and our membership was 11,000. Today our budget is in excess of $5,000,000, our races sanctioned are over 1,100, and our membership base is 47,000. Further, in 1991 we did not have a national teams program, and now we have what is considered to be one of the best within the Olympic family. We also have the USA Triathlon National Training Center which has incredible potential for development of the sport for both age group athletes and the elite athletes of the future. And, finally, over the years we have been able to set aside a substantial financial fund for the inevitable rainy day. I take pride in all of the above as I was intimately involved in every project along the way and many more not mentioned.

I regretfully resign the position of Executive Director. I do not agree with the direction that this Board is taking, the micromanaging of staff they are pursuing, and, finally, the decision last week to overlook the obvious deficiencies and violations of bylaw processes in the recent Board election. In a day when USA Triathlon enforces rule violations against age group and elite athletes within the letter of the "law", it is incredible to me that this Board can rationalize an acceptance of an election so flawed as an authentic election.

As I leave this responsibility, I want to thank all of you for your kindness; for helping me to learn in this job; and for supporting USA Triathlon consistently through the years. I ask that you continue to support USA Triathlon as we have an organization with a superb staff; a staff that works incredibly long hours to provide a high level of quality service to our constituencies.

Many thanks to all of you.

Steven Locke


Honolulu AG Worlds a go

January 6, 2004, Valyermo, California (

Sources inside the ITU confirm that the contract to host the Age Group World Championships in 2005 has been signed by the appropriate ITU party. It only awaits the signature of Bill Burke, the ITU's "partner" who'll actually put the Honolulu race on. "The signature is just a formality," according to the ITU source.

There are two significant differences between the 2005 race and every previous World Championship.

Split Gamagori

The "partnership" appears to mean, at least in the case of Honolulu,

New Zealand: "We didn't have as close a partnership as we would have liked.


Conference vote set for Thursday

January 5, 2004, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

The research done, the opinions in, it's crunch time. This Thursday, January 8, at 8PM Eastern, a conference call to determine the fate of last year's USAT board of directors election will be conducted.

After discussion, a vote will be taken on the subject of a protest filed by four unsuccesful candidates in last year's race. The four protesters are Karen Buxton, John Duke, Rob Vigorito and Mike Greer. All four are former board members, and Buxton is an incumbent.

One or more voice votes will be taken. If the protest is denied, the election stands and there is no more on which to vote. Should the protest be upheld, the remedies range from re-staging the election in the contested categories to re-staging the entire election.

Jack Weiss, whose successful candidacy was not challenged, must recuse himself. It is presumed that this is because staging the entire race again, including in his region, is an option.

This will be a busy call, with no fewer than 19 participants. In addition to executive director Steve Locke and attorney Jonathan Grinder, there will be 17 participants all, no doubt with opinions to express.

Those participants who will be recusing on this call are:

1. Val Gattis
2. Jim Girand
3. Diane Travis
4. Karen Buxton
5. Jack Weiss
6. John Duke
7. Rob Vigorito
8. Mike Greer

Those participants who will have voice, but no vote will be Mandy Pagon and Eric Schwartz, who were elite representatives to the board last year but are not this year.

Those individuals with voice and vote will be:

1. Bradley Davison
2. Tim Becker
3. Fred Sommer
4. Ray Plotecia
5. Eric Bean
6. Kevin Carter
7. Susie Gallucci

The final three are this year's elites on the board, with Bean the only elite who also served on last year's board.


Grinder's decision: election flawed

December 30, 2003, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

Jonathan Grinder's opinion is in: USAT's bylaws were not followed in the most recent board of directors election, at least not in their entirety. A protest by unsuccessful candidates caused USAT's board to seek a legal opinion from Grinder, an ex-USAT president and Phoenix attorney.

The opinion has not been released by USAT, except to members of its current board. Board members and USAT executive director Steve Locke confirmed that tomorrow the opinion will be shared with those who are protesting the election.

According to two of those who did see the opinion, Grinder listed several examples of broken bylaws, one of which concerns the minutes of the meeting in which the election procedures were detailed and voted on. The minutes failed to mention these procedures—which included allowing candidates to collect unsealed, marked ballots—yet were ratified anyway. Failing these election procedures being ratified, their use created a flawed election.

While the opinion is not yet public, it appears Grinder suspended a full analysis of the legality of the election under California corporate law. He apparently did this because several bylaw problems were discovered early in his investigation—enough to satisfy him that the election was flawed—and a more thorough review would've been time consuming, expensive and redundant.

What happens now? There will be a conference call within the week which will include members of both the 2003 and 2004 board. Complainants are also included in the conference call (Rob Vigorito, John Duke, Karen Buxton and Mike Greer). Unsuccessful candidates who did not protest the election (e.g., Lew Kidder and Bill Burke) are not included in the call. Grinder will also be in on the call, and will answer questions about his research and opinion. Then a voice vote will be taken during the call on whether the election is to be upheld and, if not, then further votes shall be taken on the remedy.

All sources opined that those voting in this meeting will include members of the 2003 board not involved as a candidate. This limits those determining the fate of the election to Brad Davison (Austin, TX), Fred Sommer (Clermont, FL), Tim Becker (Seattle, WA) and Ray Plotecia (Towsn, MD), plus the three elite athlete designates. It is also possible that Jack Weiss may participate in the vote, as his election, though held under the same potentially flawed rules, was not protested by either Burke or Kidder.

Even if the board votes to let the election stand, this doesn't mean it will. Two opinions have been sought by USAT's board regarding this election and both—prior to the election by USAT's legal chair David Backer, and after the election by Grinder—have pointed out the problems associated with the practices under which the most recent election was held. Protesting candidates have vowed to take this election to California court if the election is allowed to stand.

The votes of the three pro athlete representatives to the board will be pivotal in deciding whether this election is immediately reheld, and this puts the AAC in a delicate position. The majority of its money comes from funds voted it by USAT's board, and is raised via USAT's age-group members, or via grants applied for by office personnel employed using age-group license fees. The way the pros vote in this conference call is likely to be remembered by whomever sits on the next legitimate board.


Honolulu AG Worlds on hold

December 29, 2003, Valyermo, California (

It was widely announced early in December that the 2005 Triathlon World Championships would be held in two different venues, with Gamagori, Japan hosting the pros. Honolulu, Hawaii, was announced as the site for the age group race. Last week ITU officials confirmed to, however, that nothing has been set in stone.

The Gamagori race appears a go. Finding a home for the pro worlds is not easy if the age groupers don't come along with. The prize purse must be guaranteed to be US$200,000, with another $40,000 or so in associated fees. This has always been difficult to fund without the age group entry fees and ancillary financial benefits the age groupers bring. Plus, the ITU owns the TV rights outside of the host country, making it difficult to generate revenue to fund the pro race. But the Japanese TV options can be lucrative, and Gamagori appears ready to give the pro race a go without the age groupers tagging along.

The ITU is taking a second look at the age group race, according to sources inside the ITU, apparently for two reasons. First, it doesn't want a repeat of the embarrassingly weak production of the age group Worlds race in New Zealand, held earlier in December. And second, the New Zealand race generated upwards of US$400,000 in entry fees alone, and the ITU may want to revisit what it gets in return for granting a country the right to stage this race.


Steve Larsen: Thanks for the memories

December 22, 2003, Valyermo, California (

Steve Larsen, ex-professional road bike racer, ex-professional MTB racer, is now officially ex-professional triathlete. In an email to the press he wrote as follows:

"When I began my competitive cycling career in 1984, I could never have imagined how far it would take me. The great people I have worked and raced with, along with the lessons learned through successes and failures, have all played a role in shaping the person I have become today.

"Today, I am a husband and a father, to a phenomenal woman and two amazing children. Today, I am fortunate to have friendships with fantastic people around the world. My commitment to achieving personal bests, while learning from my mistakes and losses has been invaluable. Today, I would not trade any of these friendships and lessons for the material success offered by one more big win.

"Although my passion for racing and winning still burns hot, I have made the decision to retire from professional sports. I am extremely excited by the intellectual challenges that await me. I am certain that the same skills that served me so well for twenty years as a full time athlete will pay dividends in my post athletic career.

Those of you that have made an impact on my career (both good and bad!), I want to thank you. You have all helped in my development as an athlete and person, and I am grateful.

"My style, although not always understood or appreciated, has been to prepare and compete with 100% professionalism and dedication. This is the only way that I know how and shows the degree of respect that I have always had for my sport and my competition. I will miss the opportunity to measure myself against the best athletes in the world, but I will always compete. Of course, at the moment, that just means striving to become the best snowboarder in my family!

"Thanks again to all of my supporters over the last twenty years. I truly see this not as an end, but just the beginning. I hope you agree, and that we will have the chance to work, race, or play together again soon."

Larsen's retirement begs a few questions, all of which have been asked by Slowtwitch via email, and which will presumably be answered in due course by the amiable, affable, gracious, though not easily reachable, Larsen. To wit:

He recently moved to Bend, with an eye toward continuing training in a place most conducive. Is that still the right place for Larsen and his family? And what of the bike shop he owns, Steve Larsen's Wheelworks in Davis? As of now Larsen still owns it, and current (and longtime) manager Myke Berna hasn't been willing or able to pull the trigger on buying it.

Is Larsen's retirement an Eddy Merckx retirement (immediately gain 40 pounds) or a Rob Barel and Jim Riccitello retirement, where Larsen might show up here and there and wreak havoc at an XTerra?

At the recent XTerra championships in Maui, Ritticello recalls Larsen's surprise that even a semi-retired pro would show up. "When I retire," said Larsen via Riccitello's recollection, "that's it. Cut the cord. No more racing for me."

Time will tell for the driven Larsen, who has a pair of lackluster Ironman starts this past Fall, but who still has better than one man's allotment of leg-power and is only seven months removed from one of multisport's most dynamic bike-course whippings of a world class field (2003 Wildflower) in recent multisport recollection.


Ex-president Grinder to explore election's legality

December 14, 2003, Valyermo, California (

Attorney, judge, and ex-USAT president Jonathan Grinder of Phoenix, Arizona, has been given the task of determining whether infractions were committed during the recent election for USAT's board of directors.

Grinder's appointment follows the official protest of the election by unsuccessful candidates Rob Vigorito, Karen Buxton, John Duke and Mike Greer. Vigorito filed the official protest.

Multiple sources indicate that Grinder was not the first person approached to investigate the election. David Backer, a Maine-based lawyer and USAT legal committee co-chair, was USAT's original choice. Backer declined the job, reportedly stating that a year-end workload prevented him from conducting a a timely and thorough investigation.

Grinder's authority does not extend to the adjudication of the protest. He will not decide on remedy, simply whether the election appears to have broken either USAT's bylaws or California corporate law. "Jonathan is to report to me with the results of his findings," USAT's executive director Steve Locke told Slowtwitch. "If there is a transgression, then he is to report to me his findings as to process. If it is determined that there is an identified process within the legal documents he researches, than I will implement it... If there is no identifiable process, it sounds like the only available cure would be in court."

This statement suggests that the petitioners have three hurdles to clear before the Vigorito's protest is upheld. First, Grinder must find that specific bylaws or corporate laws were broken. Second, he must find a legally sustainable remedy. The absence of an explicit remedy raises the specter of transgressions committed with impunity, that is, bylaws were broken, but there is nothing USAT can do about it according to those same bylaws. Only if Grinder finds specific evidence of both transgressions and a remedy can the protest move to step-three, which is the implementation of the remedy. This may involved yet another process, by which a jury is impaneled to adjudicate the election process.

Grinder cannot begin the process for at least a week, and will then take what he terms, "A lot of research." It could be well into the first quarter of 2004 before USAT's membership knows whether it will need to re-run the 2003 election.

Backer was USAT's logical first choice, as he is one of the architects of USAT's bylaws. Those who are nervous about the protest—including several who won their elections—may be breathing a sigh of relief at Backer's decision to turn down the post. The board had Backer render an opinion on the election process earlier in 2003, one which was stridently critical of certain procedures under which the election was to be held.


U.S. age-groupers bring home hardware from 2003 Worlds

December 8, 2003, Colorado Springs , Colorado (

The United States age-groupers captured five gold medals, five silver and seven bronze at the SBS International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Championships on Saturday in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The United States brought the third largest team to the championships (301 total), after Australia (336) and host New Zealand (307). New Zealand led the gold medal haul with nine, followed by Australia with six.

In the women's races, Holly Nybo (Portola Valley, Calif.) won the 40-44 age group, Karen Chequer-Pfeiffer (Santa Rosa, Calif.) won the 45-49 age group, Jan Miller (Morana, Ariz.) won the 65-69 age group and Sister Madonna Buder (Spokane, Wash.) won the 70-74 age group.

In the men's races, Charley French (Ketchum, Idaho) won the gold in the 75-79 age group.

Among athletes with a disability, Aaron Scheidies (Farmington, Minn.), who competes in the blind category, won the overall title. Suzanne Elbon (Athens, Ga.), who is an above-the-elbow amputee, was the top women's finisher.

In the under-23 category, Kelsey Withrow (Woodinville, Wash.) led the United States, finishing 17th in the women's race, which was won by Australia's Nikki Egyed. Dave Messenheimer (Avon Lake, Ohio) was the top U.S. men's finisher in 30th. Javier Gomez of Spain won the men's race.

In the junior elite races, Jenna Yeakel (Canton, Ohio) placed 21st in the girls race and Christopher Stehula (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) placed 28th in the boys race.

U.S. Age Group Medalists at the 2003 World Championships
Dec. 6, 2003; Queenstown, New Zealand
1.5k swim; 40k bike; 10k run

Women 30-34
2. Sabine Bildsten (Austin, Texas)
3. Melanie Holloway (Roswell, Ga.)

Women 40-44
1. Holly Nybo (Portola Valley, Calif.)
2. Amy Rice (Wakefield, R.I.)

Women 45-49
1. Karen Chequer-Pfeiffer (Santa Rosa, Calif.)
3. Donna Smyers (Montpelier, Vt.)

Women 55-59
2. Phyllis Mason (Wilmington, N.C.)

Women 65-69
1. Jan Miller (Morana, Ariz.)
3. Susan Bradley-Cox (Lexington, Ky.)

Women 70-74
1. Sister Madonna Buder (Spokane, Wash.)

Men 45-49
2. Steven Pyle (Riverside, Conn.)
3. George Esahak-Gage (Phoenix, Ariz.)

Men 50-54
3. Clifford Rigsbee (Waimanalo, Hawaii)

Men 60-64
3. Roger Little (Bedford, Mass.)

Men 65-69
2. Jon Adamson (Alpharetta, Ga.)
3. Gary Leske (Setauket, N.Y.)

Men 75-59
1. Charley French (Ketchum, Idaho)


USAT's election to be challenged

December 1, 2003, Valyermo, California (

Several candidates are set to challenge the results of USA Triathlon's election for its board of directors, held over the Fall and concluded one month ago.

Well-known race director from the Mid-Atlantic, Rob Vigorito (Blackwater Eagleman) lost to Diane Travis in the East by 68 votes. Vigorito will challenge the election, citing on several objections.

First on Vigorito's list of complaints—several candidates in races throughout the regions share this—is that ballots were not originals, but were photocopied facsimiles of a PDF ballot posted on USAT's website. The second complaint is that electioneering via these PDF copies was conducted prior to the official inception of the election. This would mean that the copies of the PDF ballot would've been used for voting prior to the receipt in the mail of the official, mailed ballots and election platforms.

Vigorito has already informed USAT president Valerie Ellsworth-Gattis that he'll file an official protest. Who will hear the protest is unknown. Ellsworth-Gattis commented that she'll, "Refer any protest to David Backer," the co-chair of USAT's legal committee. According to Ellsworth-Gattis, if Backer considers a hearing appropriate under the federation's rules or bylaws, she said she expects the next move would be to have USAT's executive director Steve Locke appoint a panel chair, but she "would need to consult the bylaws," to make sure.

Vigorito, if denied a hearing, vows to file suit. It is likely that would occur in California court, as USAT is a California-domiciled non-profit corporation. Vigorito indicated to Slowtwitch that Karen Buxton, John Duke and Mike Greer would join in the suit. Duke and Greer independently confirmed to Slowtwitch that they would be parties to the suit.

Duke, publisher of Triathlete Magazine and second to winner Jim Girand in the Western region election, said, "I'll join the lawsuit if it's apparent that bylaws were ignored. But I got beat, plain and simple. Jim Girand out-campaigned me. He wanted it more than I did. When he won I called him up and congratulated on running a strong election."


USAT's election results announced

November 10, 2003, Colorado Springs, Colorado (

Leading the list of winners is Valerie Ellsworth-Gattis, the current Board president. Gattis (Louisville, Ky.) was the Central Region representative in 2001, but in 2003 she won an At-Large seat over Mike Greer (Canyon, Texas) and current Board secretary Karen Buxton (Greensboro, N.C.).

In the Western Region, Jim Girand (Palo Alto, Calif.), the current Board vice president, was re-elected to his post over former Board member John Duke (Cardiff, Calif.).

In the Central Region, former Board member Jack Weiss (Euless, Texas) regained a seat on the Board by defeating Lew Kidder (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and Bill Burke (Metairie, La.).

In the Eastern Region, current Board treasurer Diane Travis (Clermont, Fla.) retained her seat on the Board, defeating former Board member Rob Vigorito (Columbia, Md.) and Tom Ziebart (Howie in the Hills, Fla.).

A total of 3,344 ballots from USA Triathlon annual members were received.

Board members serve two-year terms. The new Board members will take their seats Jan. 1, 2004. The final meeting of the former Board members will be Nov. 14-15 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

USA Triathlon's elite athletes also held their elections for the athlete representatives to the Board. Susie Gallucci (Hudson, Ohio) and Kevin Carter (Silver Spring, Md.) will be the new athlete representatives. They will each serve a two-year term.

Elite athletes also voted for members of the Athletes Advisory Council, which helps USA Triathlon set policy for elite athletes. The following athletes were voted to two-year terms: Jimmy Archer (Boulder, Colo.), Gina Kehr (Redwood City, Calif.), Greg Mueller (South Bend, Ind.) and Meredith Novack (Clermont, Fla.).

Final tallies for Board elections:

Western Region
Jim Girand 852
John Duke 430

Central Region
Jack Weiss 526
Lew Kidder 422
Bill Burke 189

Eastern Region
Diane Travis 330
Rob Vigorito 262
Tom Ziebart 100

Valerie Ellsworth-Gattis 1,270
Mike Greer 783
Karen Buxton 480


The New York World Cup tri... no... duathlon

August 8, 2003, New York, NY (

The level of bacterial saturation in New York's Hudson River caused the ITU to make a difficult call: It's a duathlon.

The New York City Triathlon — an ITU World Cup race — has been a centerpiece in New York's bid for the 2012 Olympics. In using triathlon as a means of demonstrating its technical expertise in event production, the New York race has been a darling of North American ITU circuit.

But as one of the very few ITU World Cup races in the U.S. — St. Anthony's will end its affiliation with the World Cup circuit and will return to no-drafting next year — the failure of the swim venue to live up to the ITU's standards is a blow.

Still, the ITU, in the person of its executive director Mark Sisson, made the tough call after the water was tested and found to contain over the ITU's allowable bacterial limit of 200 parts per million.

This may not have a significant impact on New York's Olympic hopes, however. One source informed on New York's plans said that should New York be granted the bid, one possibility is for the swim to be held in a body of water inside Central Park built for the purpose.

The swim will be replaced by a 5km run, and the full ITU World Cup points will be approtioned to the athletes.


Lessing bags another win at Pac Coast

July 21, 2003, Newport Beach, California (

While much of the ITU circuit was racing in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Simon Lessing relied on his running legs to carry him to another victory, following up on impressive wins at Bellingham and Alcatraz.

It is no secret that Lessing is no fan of the ITU's draft-legal format, and he sometimes lets his anger get the better of him. This was the case last week, as he tried in vain to motivate a passive 6-man breakaway into working during the Edmonton World Cup. Lessing finished the run 6th out of 6th that day, and this week at Newport Beach he patiently allowed his passive 9-man front group to swell to 27 going into the run. He then promptly and easily outran them all, including the World's number-two ranked male, Aussie Chris Hill.

Meanwhile, Olympic Silver Medalist Michellie Jones from Australia drove to the race that morning from her home in Carlsbad, California, and easily bagged the $2500 winners prize and valuable ITU points with the fastest run off the day. Newcomer Maxine Seears blazed during the swim and ran well enough for second. In taking the runner-up spot the 18-year-old Australian, 5th place in last year's Junior Worlds, bested a quality field that included American Becky Gibbs-Lavelle.



Olympic picture coming into focus in the U.S.

July 21, 2003, Valyermo, CA

Last week USA Triathlon released the results of its search of Olympic Trials races, and its panel of mostly current and former pro athletes recommended (and the USAT board of directors selected) Oahu, Hawaii, and Bellingham, Washington.

The Oahu race seems to be the most Athens-specific course of the two, with a promised hill on the bike loop plus Athens-like warmth amd humidity (and water temperatures meaning like Athens Oahu will have a no wetsuit swim). Bellingham will be both colder than Athens and will almost certainly host a wetsuit swim, but got the nod primarily because of its solid race organization and its significantly hilly bike route.

Both men's and women's U.S. Olympic teams are almost certainly to have three team members, and the teams will be chosen this way:

1. The top U.S. male and female placers at the Oahu race, to be held in April of next year, will automatically make the U.S. Olympic team.

2. Next to come chronologically will be the World Triathlon Championship race in Portugal in May and, as was is the case in Oahu, the first U.S. man and woman across the line will make the team. If an Oahu winner is the first American in Portugal then the slot rolls down to the next best placing American.

3. The Bellingham race will be in June, and may or may not play a part in the Olympic selection. The third member of the Olympic team in each gender will have up to four score components: their placings in the three races just mentioned, and their world ranking. The two lowest totals, added together, represents one's "score" for the purposes of Olympic selection. Lowest score wins the third slot.

In other words, if Barb Lindquist were to place second, third and fourth, among Americans, in the three races mentioned above, yet was the World's top ranked female at the time, her score would be a "3." If she was not the qualifying American in either Oahu or Portugal that would be the score another American woman would have to beat in order to push Lindquist off the team for the third slot.

Factoring in one's World ranking will weigh heavily in the women's team selection, as Lindquist, Sheila Taormina, and Laura Reback are likely to hold the top three places in the ITU rankings through next Spring and Summer. This means that other Olympic hopefuls Becky Gibbs-LaVelle, Susan Williams, Joanna Zeiger and others almost certainly will have to be the first American in either Oahu or Portugal to make the Olympic team.


20 St. Pete Mad Dogs struck by motorist while on group ride

July 8, 2003, Valyermo, CA

Eight members of the St. Pete Mad Dogs triathlon club remain hospitalized after a driver crossed the double yellow and collided with as many as 20 cyclists, according to news reports.

The incident occurred on Sunday, July 6th, during the Mad Dogs’ regular weekly ride. Here is a list of injured riders, with their conditions as of late on July 7th, collated from the St. Pete website.

Tony Forte: broken arm, leg and jaw
Wesley Carr: broken hand and toe, cuts and bruises
Kip Vosburgh: broken leg, hip, and arm
Maria Concerion: minor injuries
David Arnold: injuries to leg and pelvis
Dave Smith: minor injuries
Tim Hudson: minor injuries
Ron Diner: minor injuries
William Barnett (from Miami): minor injuries
Donna Cross: minor injuries
John Walters:minor injuries
Robin Perkins: broken wrist
Wendy [Tocha]: unspecified injuries

One recent update to the St. Pete site indicates, "Doctors say that everyone is doing well. And that everyone has had their injuries taken care of and all will recover and be okay."

Local news sources say that 60-year-old Joseph Pastore was the driver, and has been administered a blood test by the St. Petersburg police. A related local newspaper article with interviews from cyclists at the scene, and comments from Pastore, can be found here.


Andy Potts gets a second chance

June 17, 2003, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Fourth place in the Olympic Trials. Is there any more heartbreaking finish? That's what a lifetime of swimming netted Andy Potts in 1996, fourth in the 400-meter IM Olympic Trials race.

Potts swam at the University of Michigan. His roommate and, along with Potts, the team's co-captain, was Tom Malchow. Potts swam in the lane with Michigan's "Fab Two," Eric Namesnik and Tom Dolan. If he'd made that Olympic team he'd have been the thirteenth person on his swim team to go to Atlanta—seven from the U.S., the remainder representing other countries.

As the decade neared its close Potts realized his chance of making the 2000 team was fading, and his NCAA eligibility in swimming ran out. But he remained at Michigan for a fifth term to finish school, and as a challenge and a diversion he went out for the track team, though he hadn't run a race since the sixth grade. Within two months of training he ran a 4:18 mile, and then promptly broke his foot. But that wouldn't be the end of his running, just the beginning.

Last year Potts ran into an old friend and national swim team teammate, Sheila Taormina. The swimmer-turned-triathlete recognized in Potts the raw talent she was just four years ago. She put Potts in contact with her coach, Lew Kidder, who in turn hooked Potts up with USAT's Resident and National Team coach Libby Burrell, and who helped him land a Speedo deal.

Earlier this year Andy Potts raced his fourth ever triathlon, and his first as a pro. Earlier this week Potts came off the bike with the front pack at the Gamagori World Cup race in Japan, and finished 9th. It is one of the rare top-10 World Cup finishes for the U.S. men's team.

What is significant about this? While the women's race has developed a tiered exit from the water—with Americans Barb Lindquist and Sheila Taormina almost always free of the chase pack—the men haven't. Or rather, there is one man, Aussie Craig Walton, who exits first, but it's generally a lonely bike ride for him.

Now, finally, America has a breakaway swimmer in the men's field. "I'd love to race with Walton," Potts says, and it's understandable why. The only problem is, the 26-year-old races a mid-level Trek—his only bike—with mid-level skills and mid-level legs. So far.

"That was Sheila's situation as well," said Kidder. Now it's arguable that Taormina's bike skills are not far behind her Olympic Gold Medal swim skills. "Andy has a real work ethic," continues Kidder, "you can't just have good genes and a good engine, you've got to have it upstairs nowadays. The racing's too fast, the money's getting good, and Andy's willing to work, to suffer. He can make the same sort of progress that Sheila made."

But Pott's has had his detractors, or at least nonbelievers. He's had to beg and plead his case to make the traveling squad for World Cup races. "You aren't ready," is what he was told. But he nagged his way into two World Cups, and in Gamagori, his second, he's proven he can race. In fact, the American men did quite well, with Joe Umphenour gaining a fifth place, his best-ever World Cup finish.

While not in Potts' league as a swimmer, Umphenour is no slouch in the water. He's on the USAT Resident Team in Colorado Springs, and swims in the next lane over from Potts. "I wasn't surprised when he showed up in the lead bike pack," said Potts. Maybe that's just what Umphenour needs to make the 2004 Olympic Team—he has something in common with Potts, in that he was the fourth American in triathlon for the Olympics in 2000.

"Les McDonald came up to me after Gamagori," said Potts, speaking of the ITU's President. "He said it was great that there was a front swim group in the men's race, just like the women now have. He also said that it would be good for triathlon if there was a top American man in the sport, because of the visibility it would bring in the U.S."

Maybe Andy Potts will be that man.


Lessing is back, and then some!

June 9, 2003, San Francisco, California

The keen observer would've noticed that Aussie Craig Walton has owned the "classics" over the past year or so, and when he's faltered his countryman Chris McCormack has been there to capitalize. The last time Englishman Simon Lessing owned any part of the sport was upwards of a decade a go.

In winning his second race in two weeks, it's too early to tell just what the resurgant Brit owns, but one this is undeniable: he owned the two Aussies yesterday.

Under cold, cloudy conditions in San Francisco, Simon Lessing showed the form of old at Escape From Alcatraz. Give or take a few seconds Simon had the fastest swim, bike and run—a performance without weakness.

Simon shadowed Walton, the sport's most dominationg swimmer/cyclist, through both of the first two events. That is simply not done in a short course, no-draft format. Lessing then attacked right out of the bike-to-run transition, and won by a dominating margin close to three minutes.

Meanwhile, Barb Lindquist and Sheila Taormina again showed why they are virtually unstoppable on the women's scene. Theirs was a copy of the men's race, as the two were able to swim away from former national caliber swimmer Becky Gibbs-Lavelle, who in turn swam away from the rest of the women.

When the two frontrunners—or rather front swimmers—mounted their bikes, they rode in concert like friends from way back. It is typical for the two to gain a lead over the rest of the field in draft-legal events, and they can do the same in no-draft races simply by keeping a legal distance.

Upon dismounting Lindquist proved the faster runner of the two on this day, with Taormina second and Gibbs- Lavelle kept her gap for third.



Resurgent Lessing storms Bellingham

June 3, 2003, Bellingham, Washington

Simon Lessing doesn't like the ITU format, because he's a good cyclist. One way to overcome the draft-legal format is choose a course with hills. That's what the
Bakers Breakfast Cookies course offered, and Lessing took full advantage of the law of gravity, in besting Kiwi Matt Reed and American Olympian Hunter Kemper.

Lessing left the swim among a large pack of men, but found his way into the lead pack on the bike along with countryman Chris Moffatt and Reed. The ITU specialists had to face Bellingham’s “Alabama Hill,” a long, steep grade they had to cycle over six times

“Once you’ve been up there once, you fall into a rhythm,” Lessing said. “You know what to expect next time.”

Reed took the lead leaving the second transition. Lessing waited until an uphill on the first lap of the run to pass him. Lessing finished in 1:54:37. New Zealand’s Matt Reed was second in 1:55:07 and Hunter Kemper (Longwood, Fla.) was third in 1:56:22.

Lindquist won in the women's race, completing the Olympic distance course in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 57 seconds. Sheila Taormina (Livonia, Mich.) was second in 2:07:50 and Becky Gibbs Lavelle (Cupertino, Calif.) was third in 2:10:32.

Lindquist exited the swim in first and worked with Taormina on the bike. “All the fans were out there (on the hill) cheering,” Lindquist said. “It felt like we were at the Tour de France.” She pulled away early in the run.

The race was a Pan Am Games qualifier. Although Lindquist qualified for the U.S. Pan Am team with her victory, she is already committed to competing in the ITU World Cup race in New York on Aug. 10, the same day as the Pan Am triathlon. Taormina had already qualified for the Pan Am team at the Clermont ITU International Triathlon on May 4, so the slot rolled down to Lavelle.

The third U.S. women’s Pan Am spot goes to Julie Swail (Irvine, Calif.), who is in her first year as an elite triathlete. Swail finished sixth in Clermont and ninth in Bellingham. Swail is not new to international competition. She won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in water polo and won the amateur triathlon and aquathlon titles at the 2002 ITU World Triathlon Championships in Cancun, Mexico.

On the men’s side, Doug Friman (Tucson, Ariz.), who qualified for the Pan Am team in Clermont, will be joined by Kemper, the 1999 Pan Am silver medalist, and Victor Plata (San Luis Obispo, Calif.). Plata finished eighth in both Clermont and Bellingham to earn the spot.



Larsen can't dethrone Stoltz at Big Bear

June 3, 2003, Big Bear Lake, California

Conrad Stoltz, a 29-year-old Olympic triathlete from Stellenbosch, South Africa, strung together the best swim, mountain bike, and off-road trail run of the day to win the Nissan Xterra West Championship in Big Bear, California this afternoon.

The victory is the eighth consecutive XTERRA win for Stoltz, the reigning and two-time XTERRA World Champ. Today he outlasted Steve Larsen, the 2001 Ironman USA Champion, and a host of pros from around the globe in a grueling race that combined a 0.9-mile swim in Big Bear Lake, a steep 18.6-mile mountain bike up Snow Summit, and a calf-burning trail run that included two near-vertical 500-foot climbs.

The course, already at altitude (6,744’ at the lake), featured 1,500-feet of climbing on the bike and 1,200’ of uphill on the run.
In the women's race Jamie Whitmore (26 of Elk Grove, CA) is back at it and has two wins in a row after her victory at XTERRA Saipan in April. The defending Nissan Xterra USA Pro Series Champion posted the fastest bike split of the day for a six-minute margin of victory.



Yanks strong at St. Kitts

May 11, 2003, Frigate Bay, St. Kitts

On Sunday in St. Kitts, Susan Williams from Colorado won the women's elite race at the St. Kitts ITU International Triathlon while Doug Friman (Tucson, Ariz.) finished second in the men's race behind Bevan Docherty of New Zealand.

Williams, who won the St. Croix Half Ironman race on May 4, finished the Olympic distance St. Kitts race in 2:26:35. Isabelle Gagnon of Canada was second (2:33:56) and Alexis Waddel, fresh from racing across the country at the Wildflower half-IM, was third (2:34:26).

Williams entered the run with a 5-minute lead over Gagnon and Jessi Stensland (San Diego, Calif.). Williams' run time of 42:29 kept her well ahead of the competition. Waddel used the second-fastest run to move into third on the final leg. Stensland finished fourth and Amanda Pagon (Glenn Dale, Md.) was fifth.

In the men's race, Friman and Docherty left the water together and worked together on the bike until the final descent, where Docherty took a 15-second lead into transition, which increased to 30 seconds on the run. Docherty, who won last week's ITU race in Clermont, Fla., finished in 2:08:09. Friman, who finished third in Clermont, finished St. Kitts in 2:08:49 and Olivier Marceau of Switzerland was third in 2:13:21.



Spencer Smith racks up win at Gulf Coast

May 10, 2003, Panama City, Florida

Even without the new, snazzy, lime green racing suit, Spencer Smith (GBR) would have been easy to spot—he was the guy leading the Gulf Coast Triathlon (1.2 mi S/56 mi B/13.1 mi R) from start to finish. The only real challenge for Smith and two-in-a-row women&Mac226;s champion Karen Holloway (USA), who also went wire-to-wire, was the high-80s, high-humidity morning.

“This was the hardest $1500 I’ve ever earned. It&Mac226;s hot out there, really hot,” Smith said, while cooling off in a rain tent near the finish line. Still, the Carlsbad-based Ironman champion posted a 4:06:35 for this half-iron distance race. His 27:42 swim split and 2:10:45 (25.7 mph) bike split were 3:13 and 4:19 faster than any other pro, respectively, and by the second transition, he had earned a nearly 10-minute advantage that he held for the rest of the race. Smith averaged 6:33 miles for a 1:25:41 half-marathon, second only to the 5:55 average pace set by third-place finisher, Gainesville athlete and rookie pro Darin Shearer (USA).

Holloway, like Smith, posted the fastest swim and bike splits, 30:52 (1:32 differential) and 2:57:22 (10:30 differential), respectively, en route to her 4:41:08. She also bested her 2002 winning time by 37 seconds. Holloway swam the widely lamented, rough, non-wetsuit swim with a group of four or five men.

Holloway, who has a swimming background and is also a tough cyclist, ran a respectable 1:46:45 half-marathon. “I need to get out there, ahead for the run,” she said. “This year I am in better shape and more confident, but) it was still brutally humid on the run.”



Taormina tears up Clermont

May 6, 2003, Clermont, Florida

U.S. elite Sheila Taormina and Beven Docherty of New Zealand withstood hot temperatures, high humidity and a lake that is inhabited by alligators to win the USA Triathlon National Training Center triathlon on Sunday.

Taormina (Livonia, Mich.) won the women’s race in 2:01:55. Andrea Whitcombe of Great Britain was second in 2:03:22 and Loren Groves of Canada was third in 2:04:55

Docherty finished the men’s race in 1 hour, 50 minutes, 29 seconds. Volodymyr Polikarpenko of Ukraine, who won last week’s St. Anthony’s ITU World Cup, was second in 1:50:55 and U.S. elite Doug Friman (Tucson, Ariz.) was third in 1:50:58.

Clermont was also a qualifier for the U.S. team for the Pan American Games. Taormina was the first women’s qualifier and Friman made the men’s team.

While no alligators were spotted in Clermont’s Lake Louisa on Sunday, Taormina swam as if there were and got off to a 20 second lead coming out of the two-lap swim. She left transition by herself on the four-lap bike and waited to see what might happen.

“On the first lap, I went out easy and waited to see how people formed,” she said. “By the second lap, I realized they weren’t gaining ground and decided to keep going on my own.”

By the end of the bike, Taormina’s lead was four minutes and only a terrible run could keep her from winning.

Whitcombe had the day’s fastest run in 36:20, but was still too far back to catch Taormina.

Julie Swail (Irvine, Calif.), a 2000 Olympic silver medalist in water polo who was making her elite debut, was the second U.S. finisher in sixth place overall. She might have placed even higher had she not gone off course in the swim.

The swim almost proved to be Docherty’s undoing, but not because of alligators.

“The hottest part of the race was the swim,” he said. “I didn’t really feel the heat on the bike or the run.”

On the bike, Docherty was part of a lead pack that consisted of teammate Graham O’Grady, Canada’s Brent McMahon, Germany’s Dirk Bockel, Ukraine’s Polikarpenko and Andriy Glushchenko and Brian Fleischmann and Friman of the United States.

The lead pack put a 1:40 lead on the chase group. Docherty, Polikarpenko, Friman, Glushchenko and Bockel ran the first lap together. Then Docherty, Polikarpenko and Friman broke away. Docherty waited until the last lap to make his move on the other two.

For Friman, the key was conserving energy on the bike, something he hadn’t done at the St. Anthony’s World Cup race.

“I was a little smarter this week and it paid off,” he said. “In the heat, you have to run your own race.”

Victor Plata (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Marcel Vifian (Santa Rosa, Calif.) finished eighth and 10th for the United States.



Tim DeBoom, Heather Gollnick take Wildflower rainfest

May 5, 2003, Lake San Antonio, California

The warm-turning-to-hot temperatures that normally accompany athletes at the Wildflower Triathlon were absent on a day in which cold, windy, rainy weather made it’s once in a decade (on average) appearance at Lake San Antonio.

Tim DeBoom, the world’s best long courser, rode the sort of strategic race Kiwi star Cameron Brown is known for. He, along with Brown, Chris Legh, Chris Lieto and Thomas Evans rode splits of 2:27 to 2:28, while biking superstar Steve Larsen rode away and hid with a 2:15:38 (a significantly better ride, conditions-adjusted, than his course record of 2:14:06). The only one to roll the dice was up-and-coming Swede Bjorn Andersson, whose solo 2:25 put him 2min20sec up on DeBoom and the trailing riders by T2.

As Kiwi Brown has done many times in his career, DeBoom read the race and measured the gap correctly, reeling Andersson in at 14k, and Larsen near the end of the race. Though the run course—altered that morning due to muddy conditions on the trails—was probably a kilometer short, DeBoom’s 1:10 on a very hilly course was impressive. So was Larsen’s 1:20, when you consider that injuries have kept him largely off his feet over the past two months. He’s been keeping in form by bike racing almost every week.

DeBoom’s finish time of 4:04:21 was quite good considering the conditions, and might have been worth the 21-year-old race’s first sub-4 hour performance on a normal day.

Local favorite Becky Gibbs tried to steal the race early with a fast swim and bike. As was the case with the men—and is usually the case with this race—those with superior foot speed are hard to overcome. Wisconsin’s Heather Gollnick, though known for being a very good cyclist—did her damage on the run with a very quick 1:21 to take the race in 4:42:06 to Gibbs’ 4:43:42.



Reebok mirrors Danskin with women's tri series

May 1, 2003, Del Mar, California

Reebok is off to a running start with the announcement of its sponsorship of a new women’s only triathlon series: Reebok Women’s Triathlon Series. The 4-city series kicks off in the Chicago suburb of Naperville on June 22, 2003 in support of research for ovarian cancer. The series continues in Boston, Massachusetts on July 13th, St. Petersburg, Florida on September 7th and finishes in San Diego, California on October 19th. Reebok is looking to expand in future years to other areas such as New York, the mid-Atlantic region and the mountain states.

Each triathlon will offer two competitive distances; the Super Sprint distance (300 yd. Swim, 6 mile bike and 1.5 mile run), and the Sprint distance (600 yard swim, 12.5 mile bike and 3 mile run). The Super Sprint is for individual competition only, while the Sprint distance offers individual and relay competition.

Reebok has handed the reins of its series to Del Mar, California, native Jim Curl and Chicago-based Jan Caille. Both are legends in multisport promotion. Curl founded the original United States Triathlon Series in 1982—the staple in the U.S. for more than a decade—and ran the rescuscitated version of the U.S.T.S. in the late '90s. Caille's Chicago Triathlon is the world's largest triathlon.

Reebok jumps into a market that Danskin has had to itself for fourteen years. Danskin's extremely popular and successful series has been by far the major outlet for those who want to participate in a women's-only triathlon, and its 8-race series continues to bring many women to the starting line who wouldn't otherwise enter a triathlon.

Pledge contributions made by participants of the Reebok Women's Triathlon will help raise money for The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, a New York-based charity. “Reebok is excited to combine the triathlon series with an opportunity to make a difference in a serious health risk that resonates for all women,” said Jan Sharkansky, vice president and general manager of women’s.

The Reebok Women’s Triathlon Series has a special commercial interest for Reebok. It coincides with the recent launch of its new running footwear and apparel collection called, "The Premier Series."


Armstrong wins Dirty Duathlon

December 9, 2002, San Francisco, CA (First reported in TriBiz Reader)

Four-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong won the Dirty Duathlon on Sunday in a new course record time of 1:36:05 over the three-mile run/12-mile mountain bike/three-mile run course at Rocky Hill Ranch near Armstrong's home town of Austin, Texas.

Armstrong brought a contingent of teammates from the U.S. Postal Service cycling team who raced on relay teams, and team manager Johan Bruyneel was also on hand, giving an interview to Austin television station KXAN. The results include familiar names from the pro cycling world, like George Hincapie and Floyd Landis, and the triathlon world, like Andrea Fisher, another Austin local.

Ironically, Armstrong won the race on the second run, overtaking bike leader and mountain bike ace Jason Sager to win by more than two minutes. Sager had come off the bike with a 30-second lead over the rest of the field. The race website noted that Sager has not lost a mountain bike race in Texas in more than four years.

The women's race went to Shae Rainer took the victory and also set a new women's course record in 1:55:34, with Cathy Duryea in second.

More information is on the race website, including a link to the TV news story about Armstrong's race, here: http:/

Armstrong was also last week named as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year and was among Vanity Fair magazine's people of the year for 2002, as listed in the December issue.



Siri Lindley abruptly retires

November 2, 2002, San Francisco, CA (First reported in TriBiz Reader)

Several sources have confirmed that former triathlon world champion Siri Lindley has retired from competition. The announcement was abrupt, but had apparently--according to a source close to the U.S. pro contingent--been brewing for months.

Lindley announced her retirement after a disappointing world championship race in Cancun. It was a far cry from her win last year in Edmonton. She won the world title after shooting to the top of the sport shortly after coming under the tutelage of controversial Australian coach Brett Sutton.

During that stretch in July of 2001 Lindley won the ITU World Cup in Toronto, the Aquathlon World Championship in Edmonton, and then triathlon worlds. She followed that up with a win in Corner Brook, and continued her hot streak in August by winning the Lausanne World Cup. Though not quite the 2001 campaign, Lindley had a fine summer in 2002 as well, defending her Corner Brook crown and also winning World Cup races in Hungary and Edmonton.

Choosing Sutton as her coach meant a move to Switzerland, where she'd been living and training for close to two years. Multiple sources close to Lindley said that she'd been finding it difficult to live away from home for such extended periods of time.

Sources close to USA Triathlon are not necessarily accepting Lindley's word as final. "We'd like to keep her part of the U.S. program somehow," said one source, and clearly the preference would be as a racer.


Treasure Island Tri: Lessing, Gibbs

November 2, 2002, San Francisco, CA (First reported in TriBiz Reader)

Great Britain's Simon Lessing ran away with another win Saturday, this time at the Treasure Island Triathlon in San Francisco. Lessing, who came off the bike near Australia's Chris McCormack and American Kerry Classen, set out of T2 and quickly opened up a strong gap on his chasers, eventually growing that margin to two minutes at the finish line. Classen kept McCormack in sight to finish third.

In the women's race, American Becky Gibbs took the women's race over Germany's Katja Schumacher. Gibbs led out of the water and maintained the lead on the bike, then ran strong to the finish while Schumacher and American Monica Caplan battled behind her to finish second and third, respectively.

The age-group field racing Sunday in the sprint-distance race was bolstered by the addition of many Australian age-groupers heading east to Cancun, Mexico for the ITU World Triathlon Championships this weekend. Results are here:

Professionals also were racing for prize money in the first-ever Tri-California Pro Series, which awarded points based on placement at five Tri-California races during the season, including Wildflower and Pacific Grove. Top honors in the series went to McCormack and Gibbs, with Lessing and Schumacher finishing second in the series.