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Triathlon - 04. June 2008.

Elites Set for World Championship in Vancouver

20 triathletes will compete for United States on international stage

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 2, 2008) -- USA Triathlon is pleased to announce the 20 elite athletes who will represent the United States at the 2008 ITU Triathlon World Championships this weekend in Vancouver, Canada.

The team consists of six female elites and three female U23 athletes, and two athletes on the junior female team.

The events - which will also include championships for age group and physically challenged athletes - will be split over three days.

For the elites, the juniors take to the course on Thursday, June 5. The elite and U23 races are set for Sunday, June 8.

"With worlds taking place in North America in an Olympic year, we are very excited about our medal possibilities," said USAT Sport Performance Director Scott Schnitzspahn. "We have podium potential on nearly all of our teams."

After no podium finishes in 2006, the team rebounded with two medals at last year's event in Hamburg, Germany.

Elite Women
Laura Bennett (N. Palm Beach, Fla. / Boulder, Colo.)
Julie Swail Ertel (Irvine, Calif.)
Sarah Haskins Kortuem (St. Louis, Mo. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Sarah Groff (Cooperstown, N.Y. / Boulder, Colo.)
Sara McLarty (DeLand, Fla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Amanda Stevens (Enid, Okla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)

The women returned to the podium for the fifth time in six years in Hamburg in 2007, thanks to Laura Bennett's bronze medal performance. Since 1989, U.S. women have earned 16 top-three finishes at the World Championships. Three women have earned worlds gold (Karen Smyers in 1990 and 1995, Siri Lindley in 2001, and Sheila Taormina in 2004) in U.S. history.

Four of those recent podium finishes have been by Bennett, who is back to compete on her ninth worlds team. Bennett earned silver in 2003 and back-to-back bronze medals in 2004 and 2005, before returning to the top three last year. Bennett had a phenomenal year in 2007, earning a big victory at the ITU World Cup in Des Moines and claiming the first spot on the U.S. Olympic Team heading to Beijing in August.

Joining Bennett is an athlete who had a breakout year in 2007 and recently earned her own spot on the Olympic Team. Julie Swail Ertel captured her first elite national title, won gold at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and closed the 2007 season with her first World Cup win in Cancun. A 2000 Olympian in water polo and former age group overall world champion, Ertel started 2008 with a bang by winning the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She is making her fourth appearance at elite worlds.

Sarah Haskins Kortuem, the 2006 USAT Elite National Champion, produced three top-four finishes at world cups in 2007 and captured silver at the Pan Am Games. She finished 21st in her first world championship in 2006 and followed that with a 10th place finish in Hamburg last year. She is in the driver's seat for the final Olympic Team slot, to be decided after the ITU Des Moines World Cup later in June.

Also making her third worlds appearance is Sarah Groff, who had her best world cup finish of fifth at Edmonton in 2007 and captured the ITU Aquathlon World title. She finished 16th at last year's World Championship. She still has an outside shot at the third Olympic Team slot.

Sara McLarty, the 2006 USAT U23 National Champion and 2006 Aquathlon World Champion, is on the team for the second straight year and will look to improve on last year's 49th place finish. McLarty, unquestionably the fastest swimmer in the world of draft-legal racing, will play a key role in helping the U.S. get an early lead.

The lone rookie on the team is Amanda Stevens, a former Age Group World Champion.

U23 Women
Jasmine Oeinck (Littleton, Colo. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jennifer Spieldenner (Findlay, Ohio)
Justine Whipple (Duxbury, Mass.)

Jasmine Oeinck was the center of attention at last year's event, time trialing the bike on the rain-soaked streets of Hamburg to earn a silver medal. She is back for her third appearance and is looking for gold. Joining her are two veterans, Justine Whipple and Jennifer Spieldenner, who finished 14th and 24th, respectively, at last year's race. A former junior worlds participant, this will be Spieldenner's third U23 team. Whipple, the 2007 USAT U23 National Champion, will be competing as a U23 for the second straight year.

Junior Women
Lauren Goldstein-Kral (Shaker Heights, Ohio)
Natalie Russell (Batavia, Ill.)

Lauren Goldstein-Kral is the veteran for this team. The 2007 USAT Junior Elite of the Year was performing well in Hamburg last year before a bike crash ended her day. She is joined on the team by the 2007 USAT Junior Elite National Champion Natalie Russell. Russell won the title at the ITU Sprint World Championship in Hamburg in 2007.

See more details - including a complete schedule - at the official race website .

Or visit the ITU race website .

About USA Triathlon

USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the national governing body for triathlon - the fastest growing sport in the U.S. - as well as duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. USAT sanctions 2,300 races and connects with more than 100,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USAT provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Championships, Pan American Games, and the Olympic Games.

Read more news from USAT.

Website: http://www.usatriathlon.org

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