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1998 ITU Triathlon World Championships, Lausanne, Switzerland

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US Age Groupers Share the Wealth with the World
The US Age Groupers, once again fielding the largest team at worlds, led an otherwise diverse collection of medallists at the ITU Triathlon World Championship in Lausanne, Switzerland Aug 30. With the exception of the Americans, who earned nine first-place finishes, six seconds and five thirds, no other country dominated the placings.
    Absent almost all of the athletes who helped Australia command last year's race in Perth, spots on the podium were up for grabs. Eight countries besides the US won at least one division and a total of 15 nations medalled.
The city, the course
    Lausanne is situated on the north shore of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) 40 minutes northeast of Geneva. It is a hilly place, mixing the central-city remnants of old Europe with more modern elements along the lakeshore. Home to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Museum, promoters and IOC pontiffs have christened Lausanne the Olympic capital.
Barbara Warrem, 55-60

Barbara Warren, 55-60,  on her way to a third place finish.

   The intent of race organizers was to spin a race-course web that united the old and new aspects of the city. The swim started and ended in the backyard of the newly constructed IOC headquarters. The four-loop bike course then left the more modern waterfront for a gradual ascent into the narrow streets of old Lausanne, culminating in a 200-meter-long 17-percent hump over the cobblestones.  The run course, consisting of one 6k loop and two 2k loops, began by running along the lakefront to the steps of the Olympic Museum. With the exception of the swim, which the pros looped and the age groupers did not, everyone raced the same course.
    Athletes arriving in Lausanne had two questions for those who preceded them: "Have you seen the bike course?" and "How cold is the water?"
Kasey Carroll-Basso, 25-29

Kasey Carroll-Basso, 25-29, begins her climb out of the transition area and toward the hills and cobblestones of old Lausanne.

   Everyone expected the bike course to be a challenge. Although most of the grades were not long, many AGs, especially the older divisions, fretted over the prospect of four loops up the final grade and the return descent through wickedly narrow streets. Guided course tours became very popular in the days before the race.
    The nature of the swim remained in question until late in the week when cool weather virtually guaranteed a wet-suit dip in 68 degree water--too cold for some, who prepared their wind shells and arm coverings to defend against the glacial nature of Lac Leman's water.

Race day
    Events were spaced over two days with the men pros racing first. Under a late afternoon blue sky and perfect weather, the AGs had the opportunity to watch Simon Lessing at play and check out the flow of the course. The next day the age groups served as warm up for the juniors and the pro women.
    After an inexcusably botched 7:10 am start for the over-forty women that forced half the wave to swim an extra pool length or two, the Swiss organizers rediscovered their fabled precision and started efficiently pumping racers into Lac Leman. The action of multiple wave starts, circling bikers and looping runners created a carnival of structured chaos for spectators. On the course, athletes worked to overcome the effects of chilly water, cool morning air and that steep hill in downtown Lausanne.

    As competitors began funneling into the finish chute it became clear that a broad assortment of countries would take home a piece of the podium pie even though the huge US team would once more dominate the age group medals.
    Although not to the standard set by the Australians last year in Perth, the Swiss ran an exciting race with few glitches. In addition, Lausanne was the first opportunity for many Americans to race in mainland Europe and provided a good look at what to expect next year in Munich, Germany. Most important, there were memories.

The memories: Age Group Excerpts
    Peter Kain moved into the 35-39 age group this year following a squeaker of a victory last year in Perth and promptly won again. His victory helped ease the frustration he faced after being disqualified for a course violation at this year's USAT National Championships. "I felt like I kinda got screwed at nationals," explained Kain. "But things happen like that. I got over it and luckily I had the spot from worlds last year--since I won by a hair. I moved up to a new age group so I knew that I'd be the young guy going in. But I knew it'd be tough."
   Kain liked the course. "This was great. It was hard. It was probably one of the toughest world's courses that I've done; it was the toughest world's course. ..The hills kind of took it out of my legs but I rode really well and I swam well. I came out of the water second. This Canadian guy and I came off the bike together and I got away from him pretty quick on the run. And then I just held out.

   "It was fun. It was a great course. There was a little congestion. I was a little more worried about people around me than me taking myself out. I'm used to riding in packs and bike racing so I just didn't want to get T-boned by some young guy trying to be a hero. Overall it was great. " The victory was Kain's third gold at world's.
   Don Ardell, 60-64, recovered from the World Duathlon Championships held in Germany a week earlier  to place second in his age group. The duathlon was brutally hilly and plagued by cold weather.  "I'm delighted," said Ardell of his triathlon finish. "I got seventh [in the duathlon] due to cramps. After the run I couldn't go on the bike I had such bad cramps. Today I didn't cramp until the very end of the run, but it didn't bother my pace."
   Ardell's strengths are the bike and run, so his silver medal was all that much sweeter after his disappointing duathlon. "I hoped to be in the medals [in Lausanne]. I knew I was better than my showing last week in Germany. I knew I'd have a strong run so all I had to do was not lose too much on the swim."
Don Ardell, 60-64

Don Ardell, 60-64, turned in a fifth place age group bike and a 39 minute 10k to help carry him to silver in his division.

Bob Plant, 55-59, World Duathlon/Triathlon silver medalist

Bob Plant, 55-59, added a second place finish at Lausanne to his silver medal from world duathlon championships a week earlier.

   Bob Plant, 55-59 also raced in the duathlon, placing an age group second. He bounced back from that race to run his best world's tri.  "I took second," said Plant after the race. "I'm very pleased. The Swede [Orjan Sandler] took first, as usual, but I had a real good race an I'm real happy. Don Ardell was on my heels and kept me goin' on the run and Orjan kept me goin' on the bike... That's the closest I've ever been to him so I'm really pleased." Plant finished 46 seconds out of first in 2:25:43.
   Jo Garuccio, 45-49, biked away from the rest of her division in winning her fifth world championship. "I didn't think the bike course was that bad," she said. "I thought it was a challenging bike course. I would have preferred a longer two-loop course. I thought it was too congested for the amateurs... It was definitely a good course for me 'cause I'm a strong cyclist... But even if you had good technical skills it was hard to pursue those without running somebody over who was making some really weird move in the corners."
   Five hundred meters from the finish Garuccio heard the loudspeakers announce a winner for the 45-49 age group, unfortunately she didn't know it was a mistake. One of the 45-49 year-old athletes had missed the cutoff for the run loop and ended up in the finish chute, triggering the timer with her timing chip. Coincidentally, Garuccio already thought she was second.
   "I was getting mixed feedback from people on the sidelines and I tried not to even think about it. I tried to just keep on running my race. But people kept saying 'you're looking strong, you've got it, you've got it, you're in the lead.' And I'm thinking, what are they talking about? Because I thought someone was in front of me. So when he announced that it actually didn't surprise me 'cause at the time I thought that I was second...I felt like I'd run a pretty good race and if I was second, I was second. Unlike the year before when I had a terrible race and wasn't very happy about where I placed 'cause my race was bad. If I place second or third and I have a pretty good race, that's the way it is."
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Jeanne Anne Krizman, 20-24, has won two national championships and a bronze at worlds after two years of competition.

The dreams
   Jeanne Anne Krizman, 20-24, was the top amateur at USAT Nationals in June. Last fall, after her first season of triathlon competition, she placed fourth at world's in Perth. This year she finished third, even though she felt more like a Popsicle than a triathlete.  "The fourth lap on the final hill was really tough," she said. "I was feeling it. I was cold. I actually sat down to put my bike shoes on because my legs were so cold. And then I was really cold coming off the bike. My feet were kind of frozen, but after about 5k they warmed up and I was able to increase my pace."
   Krizman is pragmatic about her plans to improve. "I think that the girls who got first and second are pretty strong. I've only been riding the bike for two years and I really need to work on my bike. I'm just not comfortable yet." Although she plans to find a coach for her biking, Krizman has already found help for her swim.
   "I'm working with one of the assistant coaches at the University of Arizona, Eric Hansen. I may not be a whole lot faster, but I'm more efficient and I'm not as tired when I come out of the water. "
   Krizman became interested in triathlon just four years ago. "I saw the Ironman on TV and I just thought that was really neat, so inspirational," she said.  She started racing two years later even though her only relevant background was running.
   "I ran cross country in high school and then I kept on running all through four years of college. I would always go out and run six miles a day just to keep in shape. But the swimming, I didn't have any experience in that. And then the cycling, I didn't have any experience with that either. Luckily, I took on to them pretty fast. But it takes a lot of hard work."
   So what are her plans for the future? "I've already missed a week of school. I've got to go back and tell my professors hello. I'm going to look up some races and I definitely want to do some drafting races. My long term goal is the Olympics. I think everybody is shooting for that. I have to get faster on the swim so I can stay with the lead group on the bike. I keep yelling at my swim coach, telling him to get me faster."
  That's what the world's is all about, memories and dreams.

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