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Triathlon News and Notes: New Sponsors and Preparing for 2021

A look at some of the buzz we’ve picked up in the sport over the past seven days.  

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There may not be much (if any) races going on right now, but the triathlon news cycle continues to spin.

New year, new bike sponsors

With pro contracts typically beginning (and terminating) at the end of the calendar year, several elite triathletes have announced new bike sponsorships this week. Specialized made several changes to its elite squad, announcing the departures of ace athletes Lucy Charles, Kristian Blummenfelt, and Braden Currie. While the former two have yet to announce their new sponsors, Currie rolled out his changeover to Felt with a two-minute mini doc where he touts the stability of the IA Disc bike.  

Specialized picked up Brit Emma Pallant (formerly with BMC) and Aussie Josh Amberger (formerly with Felt). Meanwhile, South African Jeanni Seymour has departed Ventum to race on a Quintana Roo PRSix, joining her husband Justin Metzler, who began racing with QR last year.  

Carfrae and O’Donnell welcome baby No. 2

Three-time Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae has welcomed her second baby with husband (and fellow professional triathlete) Tim O’Donnell. Baby boy Finnian O’Donnell was born on January 4. Finnian joins big sister Isabelle, age 3. Carfrae told us earlier this year she hopes to be able to make the start at the 2021 Ironman World Championship. Speaking of sponsorship changes, Carfrae revealed she has parted ways with Felt and has not yet announced a new bike sponsor.

Jorgensen to chat about her journey

Gwen Jorgensen may be a fulltime runner these days, but that won’t stop her from reflecting on her time as a triathlete when she presents the keynote will present the keynote address at Endurance Exchange, a multisport summit hosted by USA Triathlon later this month. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist says she’ll share “a behind-the-scenes look into [her] journey” to becoming the best in the sport and speak about the evolution of her career at the virtual three-day event. Jorgensen joins a lineup of other legends of the sport set to speak at the Exchange, including Mark Allen, Scott Molina, Dave Scott, and Scott Tinley. 

Coaching changes for Lawrence

Fourteen-time Ironman 70.3 champ Holly Lawrence will usher in the new year with a new coach. Earlier this week, she announced she will no longer be coached by Dean Golich and instead will return to cycling coach Elliot Lipski, whom she was with when she won the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2016. The Santa Monica, California-based Brit posted that she’s “excited and ready for the change” and admits it’s “hard leaving a coach you absolutely love,” referring to Golich. Her partner, Sean Jefferson, a 3:56 miler, will oversee her running. 

Chris Nikic the first triathlete featured on new Ironman TV series

Chris Nikic, a 23-year-old man from Florida, gained worldwide attention when he became the first person with Down Syndrome to complete an Ironman last November. His inspiring journey was chronicled on the premiere episode of NBC’s new series Anything Is Possible, a spinoff of the Emmy-award winning Ironman World Championship recap show which typically airs each December (the same team produces both shows). Nikic’s episode, which aired on January 3, is now available to watch on Facebook. 

PTO taps Godfrey as CMO

Fresh off the heels of the success of their Championship at Challenge Daytona, the Professional Triathletes Organization (PTO) is beefing up its staff with the addition of Chief Marketing Officer Tim Godfrey. Godfrey, who will head PTO’s global media and marketing strategy as well as oversee all media and marketing initiatives, was formerly in a similar role with SailGP, a global, high-stakes sailing series. His primary focus will be on the forthcoming Collins Cup competition, slated for May in Samorin, Slovakia. The Cup, which will pit teams from the United States, Europe and the rest of the world (Internationals) against one another over a series of races, boasts a $2 million prize purse–puported to be the largest in the sport’s history. 

USAT’s Harris reflects on the woes of 2020

In his year-end letter, USAT CEO Rocky Harris reflects on the hardships the governing body of the sport has endured in 2020, including a revenue decrease by over 40%, a 30% staff shrinkage, and the selling its office building in Colorado Springs. But he remains hopeful for the year to come, writing “demand for racing is at an all-time high as we all look forward to not only some normalcy, but a return to the sport and community we so desperately need in our daily lives.” 

Zaferes family making a move

As she zeroes in on an Olympic qualification and a potential run at the podium in Tokyo this summer, 2019 ITU World Champ Katie Zaferes posted that she has partnered with Addaday, the company behind the BioZoom recovery tool. On a personal note, Zaferes–who currently sits at the top of the ITU world rankings after the abbreviated 2020 season–also shared that she and her husband Tommy are looking to settle down in Cary, North Carolina after spending most of 2020 in her home state of Maryland. 

Lake Placid race director does good

Ironman Lake Placid race director Greg Borzilleri donated some 672 gallons of water to a local organization that serves women and children in need, many of whom lack access to safe drinking water. The donation, called a “godsend” for the Essex County Women Infants and Children nutrition program, came from the surplus Borzilleri had when the 2020 race was canceled due to the pandemic. “Since it’s been so long, and since it’s Christmas time and the pandemic … it’s good to give that stuff away,” Borzilleri said.

Podcast Notes 

  • Triathlon power couple Paula Findlay and Eric Lagerstrom chat with YogiTriathlete about the build-up to Challenge Daytona, the success of their YouTube Channel That Triathlon Life, and their mutual adoration of their dog, Flynn. 
  • British pro Thomas Davis reflects on his 12th-place finish at Challenge Daytona and his career so far with Fitter Radio. 
  • Australian legend Emma Carney, who retired from the sport in 2004, discusses her impressive career and her upcoming memoir Hard Wired: Life, Death and Triathlon on IMTalk .
  • Soon-to-be father of two Tim O’Donnell checks in with Carrie Tollefson and reveals his secret to longevity in the sport, how he met his wife, Mirinda Carfrae, plus what he hopes to do in the near future (like win Kona).
  • Australian Ironman champ Chris “Macca” McCormack offers predictions for the 2021 triathlon season, including what he expects for stars like Jan Frodeno, Alistair Brownlee, Lucy Charles-Barclay and Daniela Ryf on the MX Endurance Podcast.
  • Sebastian Kienle joined us on the Triathlete Hour Podcast to chat about why the Daytona race didn’t go as hoped for him, what he’s been doing this year, how he’s changed his training and what he’s learned over the years.

Video: 4X World Champion Mirinda Carfrae Makes Her Picks for 70.3 Chattanooga

Carfrae and former pro Patrick Mckeon break down the iconic course in Chattanooga, who looks good for the pro women's race, and their predictions for how the day will play out.