This weekend some of the top triathletes in the world will make their bid for the Olympics at the World Triathlon Championship Series race in Yokohama. For many countries, the race serves as one of the last chances for athletes to earn points and make their case for the Olympic team. For the American athletes, it also the final automatic qualifying for the Olympic squad—meaning a good enough performance will secure your spot.
Because of the time difference, the races are happening Saturday morning in Japan—but it’ll be Friday evening in the U.S. So get your Friday night plans in order.
Women’s race: Friday, May 14, 9:16 p.m. ET (6:16 p.m. PT)
Men’s race follows: Saturday, May 15, 12:06 a.m. ET (Friday, May 14, 9:06 p.m. PT)
How to Watch
In the U.S., the primary way to watch the races will be on World Triathlon’s streaming service: Triathlon Live. A subscription costs $27/annually or $8/month (though USAT members are being offered a 75% discount currently; check your email). The women’s race will be broadcast at this link and the men’s race will be broadcast at this one.
FloTrack, though typically a platform for major running races, will also be broadcasting the Yokohama race here. A FloTrack subscription costs $30/month or $150/annually.
Who to Watch
In the women’s race, the big question is if world champion Katie Zaferes will dominate and secure her Olympic spot. Teammates Taylor Spivey, Kirsten Kasper, and Taylor Knibb will all be looking to grab that last automatic slot too. They’ll be joined by Summer Rappaport, who has already secured her place on the team. Because one American woman has already qualified (Rappaport), there’s only one automatic spot left—and you have to podium to claim it. Emma Jackson from Australia and Britain’s Non Stanford will also be contending for the podium, as will the recent 5K world record setter Beth Potter. While the British team has already been named (and Stanford and Potter aren’t on it), their women are so deep both could still unseat any of the Americans. Don’t forget France’s Cassandre Beaugrand or Germany’s Laura Lindemann. (Full start list here.)
In the men’s race, the defending world champ Vince Luis (France) is the man to beat. He’s won here the last two years. Keep a lookout for other big names like: Marten van Riel (Belgium), Jonny Brownlee (UK), Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden (Norway), and up-and-comers trying to make their own countries’ teams like Britain’s Alex Yee and Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca. For the Americans, Matt McElroy and Morgan Pearson are both hoping to claim the top American spot and secure their place on the team. Both have had top ten finishes in the past—but to lockdown their Olympic hopes both will have to finish on the podium or if no American finishes on the podium, then only the top American in the top eight gets the spot. Trying to unseat them will also be 2016 Olympian Ben Kanute. (See the full start list here.)
After swimming 1500m, the Olympic-distance course will feature some technical sections on the nine-lap 40K bike course before athletes hit the multi-loop 10K run. The turns and nerves should make for some interesting racing.
What’s at Stake
The Olympics! If we haven’t made it clear: This is the last chance for American triathletes to lock down their spot on the team—otherwise they have to wait for the selection committee to make a discretionary choice for the final slots. For a number of other countries it’s also a key selection event as the points window just reopened and will close on June 14—meaning they only have a few races to earn the rankings they need for Tokyo. Some athletes will have their dreams made this weekend and some will lose out.