March 1, 2012 (Colorado Springs, CO) – This week, USA Triathlon announced its annual list of athletes of the year. “The depth of talent in this year’s Athlete of the Year candidate pool was astonishing, reflecting the growth of triathlons and duathlons and the dedication of the individual athletes,” said Steve Sutherland, chair of the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee Athlete of the Year Subcommittee.
Christine Anderson (Boulder, Colo.) claimed Triathlete of the Year honors among age group competitors. Anderson was the first elite amateur at the Chicago Triathlon and was the top amateur finisher in both the Wildflower Triathlon Olympic-distance event and IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder.
Curt Chesney (Boulder, Colo.) and Susan Williams (Littleton, Colo.) garnered Masters Triathlete of the Year honors.
Chesney earned the honor for the second straight year after posting the top age-grouper performance at the 2011 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in Henderson, Nev., and ranking as the No. 3 amateur at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and the fourth overall amateur and top U.S. age-grouper at the IRONMAN World Championship.
Williams, an Olympic bronze medalist in 2004, was the top overall finisher at the 2011 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship in Burlington, Vt., and won her age group at ITU Long Distance Worlds.
Michael Orendorff (Pueblo, Colo.) was recognized as Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year. Orendorff was the male Grand Masters winner at 2011 Age Group Nationals and placed seventh in the 60-64 age group at IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds.
Now training in Colorado Springs as members of the Elite Triathlon Academy, USA Triathlon Junior Elite national champions Lukas Verzbicas and Kelly Whitley were named Junior Triathletes of the Year. Verzbicas made national headlines in September 2011 when he captured gold at the ITU Junior World Championships to honor friend and teammate Kevin McDowell, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March 2011. Prior to winning the world title, Verzbicas was victorious at the USA Triathlon Junior Elite National Championship and the PATCO Junior Pan American Championships last year.
In the professional ranks, long-distance standouts Mary Beth Ellis (Boulder, Colo.) claimed Non-Olympic/ITU Athlete of the Year honors. Ellis enjoyed a breakout season in 2011 by winning three IRONMAN events over an eight-week span and placing 15th at the IRONMAN World Championship.
Under-23 Athlete of the Year accolades went to Greg Billington (Colorado Springs, Colo.) who
recorded a fourth-place finish at ITU Under-23 Worlds and added a pair of top-six ITU Pan American Cup finishes.