July 6, 2013, KITZBUHEL, AUT (ISN) – Canada’s Kirsten Sweetland continued her comeback trail with a stellar sixth-place finish on the most grueling triathlon course in the world Saturday at the World Triathlon Series in Kitzbuhel, Austria.
Coming off a bronze-medal finish in Edmonton two weeks ago, the Victoria resident demonstrated her incredible fitness with the world’s best athletes after posting a time of 1:05:02 on the new innovative and dynamic course composed of a 750-metre swim, followed by an 11.5-kilometre bike, and 2.5-kilomettre run up the Kitzbuhel Horn mountain top.
“I felt really strong on the bike and I tried to be smart and pace it properly,” said Sweetland. “I wanted to ensure I didn’t go out too hard so in that respect it was perfect.”
Billed as the toughest triathlon in the world, the unique course design in the picturesque mountain village of Kitzbuhel made famous for the Hahnenkamm alpine ski race, challenged athletes from start-to-finish as they raced up its sister mountain – the Kitzbuhel Horn.
Darting out of the water in the middle of the pack, the 24-year-old flyweight sucked up the pain while pedaling through the field on the 11.5-kilometre bike course that featured cobblestone roads, hairpin turns and a punishing hill at 22 per cent grade. Heading into the second transition in fifth spot, Sweetland and the world’s best had no time to rest their legs. When foot hit pavement, the remaining 2.5 kilometre run showcased another hill with 16 per cent grade where Sweetland dropped one spot to finish sixth.
“My run can still use some improvements, but I didn’t lose a ton of time! I’m really happy with the execution and the result is a bonus,” added Sweetland. “I am so happy to be back in the mix. I haven’t had any real big blocks of interruption-free running in a while so I think some consistency there now that I’m fully healthy will be the ticket to quicker runs. I am looking forward to keep making small steps for the rest of the season and quadrennial.”
Great Britain’s Jodie Simpson was crowned the queen of the ultimate triathlon endurance test on Saturday after clocking a winning time of 1:03:22. Australia’s Emma Jackson held on for second spot at 1:04:21, while Germany’s Anne Haug won the fight for the bronze medal with a time of 1:04:34.
The solid outing is another step forward in a long comeback for the young Sweetland, whose best finish on the World Triathlon Series was fifth back in 2009, before battling a series of injuries over the last four years.
Earlier in the day three Canadian men hit the start line in Kitzbuhel. A banged up Andrew Yorke battled through injuries sustained during a bike crash in Edmonton two weeks ago, not to mention the challenging Austrian course, to finish as the top Canadian in 40th spot after punching the clock at 1:01:32.
“That was a very challenging course. It definitely hurt being a taller guy on that kind of climb today,” said Yorke, of Caledon, Ont. “Fortunately it’s the only race where we have to scale a long mountain climb! I’m looking forward to Hamburg next week. I won’t be as banged up going into the event as I was with this one.”
Kyle Jones, of Oakville, Ont., placed 55th at 1:04:13, while Victoria’s Andrew McCartney crossed the line in 61st spot with a time of 1:06:14.
Britain’s Alistair Brownlee crushed the field with a time of 55:23. Spain’s Mario Mola finished second at 56:00, while Switzerland’s Sven Riederer rounded out the podium in third with a time of 56:46.
Triathlon Canada is the governing body for triathlon in the country. Recognized as an Olympic medal sport since 2000 and Paralympic medal sport as of 2016, Triathlon Canada’s mandate is to promote, foster, organize and develop the sport of triathlon, and its related disciplines, in Canada. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at www.triathloncanada.com on the Internet.
Complete World Championship Series Results (750m swim, 11.5km bike, 2.5km run): www.triathlon.org
Top-Five Women’s and Canadian Results:
1. Jodie Simpson, GBR, 1:03:22; 2. Emma Jackson, AUS, 1:04:21; 3. Anne Haug, GER, 1:04:34; 4. Andrea Hewitt, NZL, 1:04:41; 5. Nicky Samuels, NZL, 1:04:54.
6. Kirsten Sweetland, Victoria, CAN, 1:05:02
Top-Five Men’s and Canadian Results:
1. Alistair Brownlee, GBR, 55:23; 2. Mario Mola, ESP, 56:00; 3. Sven Riederer, SUI, 56:46; 4. Henri Schoeman, RSA, 56:49; 5. Ryan Sissons, NZL, 57:31.
40. Andrew Yorke, Caledon, Ont., CAN, 1:01:32; 55. Kyle Jones, Oakville, Ont., CAN, 1:04:13; 61. Andrew McCartney, Victoria, CAN, 1:06:14