This weekend, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, will host the always exciting ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final, the last event in the extremely competitive eight-race series. The draft-legal format features the speediest short-course athletes in the world battling it out on a multi-loop course in Hawrelak Park for the world champion title. Athletes have accumulated points throughout the season, and the ITU world champion will be determined based on an athlete’s five best finishes. The world championships format changed to a multi-race series from a single-day championship in 2009, so the winner of the Grand Final this weekend won’t necessarily be the world champion.
Going into the race U.S. Olympians Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah Groff are ranked first and second, respectively, in the women’s WTS rankings, and since the multi-race series change in 2009, Groff is the only woman to have ever earned a spot on the overall series podium with third in 2011. Jorgensen earned her 3,885 points with an incredible four consecutive series victories. By winning back-to-back races in Yokohama, London, Chicago and Hamburg, Jorgensen is the only athlete—male or female—to have ever won that many consecutive races in the series. Groff, who finished in fourth in the 2012 London Olympics, just moved into second place last weekend with her first WTS win in Stockholm. Her four top-five finishes on the WTS circuit earned her 3,037 points, which means Jorgensen will have to finish 16th or higher to keep Groff from earning the world champion title. Ranked third in the standings is Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson, who won the gold medal at last month’s Commonwealth Games, with 2,982 points.
Other top women competing including Andrea Hewitt (NZL), a consistent top performer; Kirsten Sweetland (CAN); Emma Jackson (AUS) and Nicky Samuels (NZL). The other U.S. women racing are Lindsey Jerdonek, who finished a personal-best fifth place in Stockholm, Katie Hursey, Kaitlin Donner and 2008 Olympian Sarah Haskins.
Either way, a new women’s world champion will be named—the four women who’ve earned the title since the change to the multi-race format (Australia’s Emma Moffatt, Sweden’s Lisa Norden, and Great Britain’s Non Stanford and Helen Jenkins) are not on the start list for Edmonton.
On the men’s side, Spain’s Javier Gomez Noya leads the men’s rankings with 3,833 points. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist and three-time (and reigning) ITU world champion has won four races this year, in Auckland, Cape Town, Yokohama and Chicago. Hot on his heels in second is Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and 2012 ITU world champion, with 3,551 points from his victory in Stockholm and podium finishes in Auckland, Cape Town and Hamburg. With such a narrow margin between first and second, the title will come down to this race—Brownlee must win and Gomez finish fifth or worse for the Brit to regain the world title. Spain’s Mario Mola is ranked third with 3,491 points, thanks to his London win and Yokohama and Chicago podium finishes.
An X factor racing this weekend is 2012 Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain, who’s started to return to form after battling injury early in the season—he won the WTS race in Hamburg, was the runner-up in Stockholm and won the 2014 Commonwealth Games in July. There’s a possibility that he could win the race or help his brother in regaining the title. Joao Pereira (POR), Sven Reiderer (SUI) and Richard Murray (RSA) also have strong chances for the podium in Edmonton. Racing in the elite men’s race for the U.S. are Joe Maloy and Jarrod Shoemaker.
How And When To Watch
The elite women’s race is scheduled for noon MT (2 p.m. ET) on Saturday, and the elite men’s race is the same time on Sunday. The main venue is Hawrelak Park, 15 minutes from Edmonton’s downtown core. The park is located in the heart of Edmonton’s expansive river valley. The swim will take place in Hawrelak Park Lake, while the bike and run courses take athletes through the scenic locations within the river valley. A live webcast of both races will be available from ITU at Triathlonlive.tv. The race will also be televised live on Universal Sports.