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UPDATED: May 2, 2022
While the news lately has been all about who’s not racing, the focus in St. George this Saturday will be first and foremost on who is there: two former world champs (including the reigning world champion), an Olympic medalist, countless podium finishers, and a number of hungry up-and-comers.
For pros who qualified for this race in 2020, 2021, and some all the way back in 2019, it’s been hard to even make it to the start line (pregnancies, injuries, COVID complications). With Lucy Charles-Barclay officially out with a hip stress fracture, heavy favorite Laura Philipp announcing a week before race day that she’s out with COVID, and three-time champ Mirinda Carfrae off the start list, these are the six women we’re watching as contenders for the podium—with Philipp having been pulled out of our list of contenders. But with so many unknowns, don’t count out Ruth Astle either. Actually, don’t count out anyone.
Of note: Out of all the starters, men or women, American Linsey Corbin has the most finishes. This will be her 14th Ironman world championship appearance.
See the full start list at the bottom.
Ironman World Championship, St. George: Women’s Race Preview
Why she might win: Haug knows how to win an Ironman world championship—she is, after all, the reigning world champion. While the fleet-footed German hasn’t raced prolifically since then, she’s certainly been dominant when she has, with notable performances like her commanding win at Challenge Roth last year (in 7:53, on a shortened course).
Why she might not: We all know Haug can run (and bike), and the St. George course should play to her strengths. But what kind of deficit will she have after the swim and coming out of T2? Since moving to long-course, she’s steadily improved—taking third on her debut in Kona and then first. But she hasn’t faced as stiff competition in her more recent races.
Why she might win: You don’t get to be a nine-time world champion by accident. While she’s had some off races recently, Ryf has consistently been the best long-course athlete on the planet for years—winning five 70.3 and four Ironman world titles. At 70.3 St. George a year ago, she annihilated the women’s field before taking a pair of Ironman wins in Tulsa and Switzerland.
Why she might not: Ryf’s last couple of years could be called sub-par for her: an 11th at 70.3 Worlds in 2021, 13th at the last Kona, and zero races in 2020. She later revealed she had been struggling and split with her longtime coach last year. She then looked untouchable in early 2021, but had a lackluster race (that ended in a DQ) at 70.3 Oceanside earlier this month. Which version of Ryf will we see this May?
Why she might win: A consistent top-five finisher at Kona, the difference for Jackson this year might be the move to Utah. With a wetsuit swim, her deficit into T1 should be less than in Hawaii, and then the hilly bike course and variable weather should suit her. She’s won many times on a similar course in Lake Placid. Plus, she looked to be coming into form with a win at Ironman Florida late last year.
Why she might not: The closest Jackson has come to the top step at the world championship is third place. She’ll have significant time to make up out of the water, and although she’s a strong bike-runner, so are some of her biggest rivals. She’s also made no secret of the fact that she’s had a tough year or two.
Country: Great Britain
Why she might win: When she was picked to replace Lucy Charles-Barclay in the Sub8 Project later this summer, many triathlon fans weren’t surprised. The fleet-footed Brit has been quietly building up a resume that now includes a 2:49 Ironman run (and second place to Ryf) at Ironman Tulsa, a couple of Ironman titles, and a win over reigning world champ Anne Haug at 70.3 Lanzarote last month.
Why she might not: It’d be a big jump for the new(er) pro. Since she only turned pro in 2019, COVID put a damper on her first few years. She could just be waiting for this big break or should she could need a few more appearances to really arrive.
Why she might win: The 2012 Olympic silver medalist moved fully to mid-distance in 2017 and only did her first full Ironman last year. But in the meantime she did manage to win four national titles in the time trial in Sweden—meaning she’s a very very strong cyclist.
Why she might not: Norden will be plenty strong through the first two legs of the day. The question is what happens after that. With only two full Ironmans under her race belt (a win at Lake Placid and a 4th at Mallorca, both last year), she may still have newbie mistakes to work out.
Wildcard: Skye Moench
Why she might win: This is her home turf! The crowds love this local racer and since a surprise win at Ironman Germany pre-pandemic, she’s been stacking up titles and podiums on the world stage.
Why she might not: After a bad crash in training took her out of Kona in 2019, she’s yet to make her debut at the Ironman World Championship. Give her a couple of years.
Ironman World Championship Women’s Pro Start List
|Gurutze Frades Larralde||ESP|
|Maja Stage Nielsen||DEN|
From March/April 2022