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Katie Zaferes Looks to Secure World Title at ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne

By USA Triathlon, 08/27/19, 2:47PM MDT

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) leads the ITU World Triathlon Series by a considerable margin heading into this weekend’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, as she looks to secure the world title for the first time in her career.

The Grand Final, set for Saturday, Aug. 31, marks the last stop in the ITU World Triathlon Series. The world championship podium is comprised of the top-three athletes in the series at its conclusion. Zaferes has 4,925 points to date, and her closest competitor, Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth, has 4,170. 

The Grand Final is weighted more heavily than a regular-season race. A victory is worth 1,250 points, and the number of awarded points decreases by 7.5 percent with each subsequent finishing place. A WTS podium simulator at triathlon.orggives fans a look at the various ways the WTS podium could play out based on athletes’ finishing places at the Grand Final. 

The elite men’s and women’s races are both set for Saturday in Lausanne. The men race first at 2:21 p.m. local time (8:21 a.m. ET), followed by the women at 5:06 p.m. local time (11:06 a.m. ET). Both races will be broadcast live online at triathlonlive.tv, with subscriptions available for purchase. Fans can also follow the action live on Twitter @TriathlonLive

Competitors will cover an Olympic-distance course featuring a 1,500-meter swim in Lake Geneva, a 40-kilometer bike on city streets and a 10-kilometer run. 

Zaferes has made a steady climb to the top of the world triathlon scene over the last five years. She was fifth in the world at the end of the 2015 WTS season, fourth in 2016, third in 2017 and second in 2018. She has been dominant in the 2019 series to date, earning four gold medals and a silver across the seven regular-season races.

After crashing out of the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event on Aug. 15 (not a part of the WTS circuit), Zaferes recovered and returned to training within a few days. She is prepared to battle Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown of Great Britain — ranked second and third in the series, respectively — as well as Tokyo test event winner Flora Duffy of Bermuda.

Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) is also a series podium contender, as she ranks fourth heading into the Grand Final. She has placed no lower than sixth in a WTS race in 2019, earning silver in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and bronze in Yokohama, Japan. 

Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), who became the first athlete to auto-qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team with a fifth-place finish at the Tokyo test event, is sixth in the WTS rankings. Rappaport returned to the WTS podium for the first time since 2016 with a silver medal this year in Yokohama, joining a U.S. podium sweep with Zaferes and Spivey. She went on to earn two more WTS medals with a bronze in Hamburg, Germany, and a silver in Edmonton, Alberta.

Also racing for the U.S. women are Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), the 2018 ITU Under-23 world champion and two-time junior world champion; Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), a four-time ITU Triathlon World Cup medalist; Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), the 2017 U23 world champion and silver medalist last weekend at the Karlovy Vary ITU World Cup; and Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), who finished the 2018 WTS season ranked fourth overall.

On the men’s side, Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) leads the U.S. contingent at No. 24 on the start list. McElroy made history earlier this season with a silver medal at ITU World Triathlon Leeds — just the second WTS medal ever for a U.S. man, and the first since Jarrod Shoemaker in 2009. He was also the top U.S. men’s finisher at the Tokyo test event, placing 16th.

Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) is 28th in the series to date. In just his second year as an elite triathlete, Pearson earned an ITU World Cup silver medal in June in Huatulco, Mexico, and was sixth at ITU World Triathlon Edmonton in July. He was the second U.S. man across the line at the Tokyo test event, taking 25th.

Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) was the top U.S. man at the 2018 Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia, placing 16th. He earned his first two career ITU World Cup medals later that fall and snagged his first ITU World Cup victory this season in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary.

Rounding out the U.S. men’s contingent are Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), a five-time ITU World Cup medalist; and Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), who makes his elite Grand Final debut after representing the U.S. at three ITU Junior World Championships and in 2017 at U23 Worlds.

The ITU World Triathlon Grand Final also features ITU Paratriathlon, Junior, U23 and Age Group (Sprint and Standard-Distance) World Championships. For complete event schedules, course maps and more, visit lausanne.triathlon.org

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).