A year ago, Gwen Jorgensen led the World Championship Series going into the Grand Final, but crashed hard on the bike and fell to 4th. Today at Edmonton Canada, Jorgensen overcame a few moments of doubt on the bike and jettisoned the dark cloud of her 2013 disappointment with a dominating run that elevated her from 20th place to 1st.
Jorgensen made up her 1:09 deficit to New Zealanders Andrea Hewitt and Nicky Samuels by 8 kilometers into the run and flew to the finish with long strides like triathlon’s version of Secretariat at the Belmont. Jorgensen hit the finish in 2:00:05 with a 16 seconds margin of victory on Hewitt and 26 seconds on 3rd place finisher Nicky Samuels. Adding to a trophy case of her signature race-best runs, Jorgensen’s 33:23 10k performance was 1:23 better than Hewitt’s effort, the next-best on the day.
Jorgensen’s Grand Final win was good for $30,000 and a record 5th WTS win this season. But she made an even greater mark on history with her WTS season points victory which grants her the title of World Champion and an $80,000 bonus pool check.
The World Championship title makes her victory the fifth for an American woman and by far the biggest margin. After the tumult and shouting were over, Jorgensen had accumulated 5,085 points during the 2014 season, which was 1,098 points ahead of fellow U.S. star Sarah Groff, who finished 4th on the day and thus held 2nd in the season long points standings. The 1-2 finish in the ITU Elite Women's World Championship standings was a first for the U.S. women.
“I don't think it has sunk in yet,” said Jorgensen, who was exultant at the finish. “The disappointment of 12 months ago made me really motivated this year,”
Andrea Hewitt’s runner-up finish today advanced her from 5th to 3rd place on points and gave her the final podium spot in the 2014 WTS season standings ahead of an off-form Jodie Stimpson who got off the bike in a virtual tie with Jorgensen but faded to 13th.
Jorgensen had a few nail biting moments when she faded as far back as 28th place and 1:21 back of the bike leader before fellow American Sarah Haskins rode to the rescue. Had Jorgensen continued to fade on the bike, even her extraordinary running skills might have left her out of contention for the GF win and even worse, backward momentum might have left her out of the top 16 she needed to guarantee the World Championship win – a scenario that would have mirrored her 38th place finish at the 2012 Olympics.
Haskins, the 2008 ITU World Championship runner-up and a dominating swimmer-cyclist who has garnered an immense haul of non-drafting classics hardware, had been out of the ITU game for over a year but had apparently been called up by the USA Triathlon to serve as a domestíque in case Jorgensen ran into trouble. Whatever USA Triathlon presumably paid for her travel expenses was some of the best money ever spent by the federation. After 25 kilometers of the 43k bike leg, Haskins went to work to lead Jorgensen back from a fast growing 1:21 deficit to 1:09 at T2 even though the lead pack pushed even harder to the end.
Jorgensen was particularly grateful to Haskins. “I could not have done it today without Sarah (Haskins),”said Jorgensen. “I am really grateful she was here. I didn’t really execute on the swim and the first lap of the bike. But I got some help and was able to reel it in just enough.”
Jorgensen said she was honored that 2001 ITU World Champion Siri Lindley and two-ITU time World titlist Karen Smyers were on site to welcome her to the club. “I am also happy that Sarah Groff could finish the season in second – it just shows how strong USA Triathlon is.”
“It was great to be on the podium today with a New Zealand teammate,” said Hewitt, whose season came together at the end with silver medals at Stockholm and Edmonton. Hewitt’s season was interrupted in the middle of the season when she left the circuit to tend to fiancé Laurent Vidal who suffered a heart attack while training in the south of France this spring. “We were all worried about him but it is great that he came through and is here today.”
ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final
August 30, 2014
S 1.5k / b 43k / R 10k
Elite Women Results
1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 2:00:05
2. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) 2:00:21
3. Nicky Samuels (NZL) 2:00:31
4. Sarah Groff (USA) 2:01:20
5. Aileen Reid (IRL) 2:01:21
6. Claudia Rivas (MEX) 2:01:22
7. Sara Vilic (AUT) 2:01:24
8. Pamela Oliveira (BRA) 2:01:26
9. Katie Hursey (USA) 2:01:27
10. Rachel Klamer (NED) 2:01:30
13. Jodie Stimpson (GBR)
15. Paula Findlay (CAN) 2:02:10