At the risk of being "PATCO'd out", I wanted to post some final notes. I've already sent most of this to the athletes, but I thought I'd put it out in a public forum to recognize a few people.
First off, it was great (as always) to work with the coaches from across the country. We have a pretty special group of coaches who work very well together. I think the athletes pick up on that energy at events like PATCO, and it helps build a sense of being a Canadian Team, rather than bunch of separate provinces or programs. Thank you coaches and staff.
We had lots of positives at the races. We achieved our goal of earning 3 junior male and 3 junior female starts at worlds (we needed to have 3 athletes finish in the top 15 to earn 3 spots to worlds). Kyla Coates (BC) stepped up and kept the Junior Women's title in Canada, and Marianne Hogan repeated as bronze medallist. Our junior women's team was very strong, with 4 women in the top 8. Our junior men also put on a great show, with 4 athletes in the top 8. To put this in perspective, we had one junior male athlete in the top 10 last year at PATCO. With the exception of athletes who crashed out, our entire junior mens team (8 finishes) finished in the top 20 this year. Great racing.
Although they didn't have the race they wanted, I want to recognize Matt Vierula (ON), Mark Okany (MB), Taylor Lick (AB) and Joel Howlett (SK)- all four guys were involved in crashes during the race, and some of them were pretty banged up. I know they were disappointed with the outcome of the race, but instead of feeling sorry for themselves, all four guys were out there supporting the rest of the team through a pretty long day of racing.
I'd also like to recognize Christine Ridenour for putting it all on the line with a great solo effort for the entire swim and bike, and Alexandra Coates for getting up after a crash, finishing the bike, and having the guts to hammer out the 4th fastest run of the day (even though she was effectively out of contention) - you guys really set the tone for the rest of the day, and the junior men took notice.
Congrats also to the U23 and Elite teams on their efforts - we were a pretty young team, and we lined up against some big names, including Olympians. For Jeff Phillips, Dorelle Hinton and Angela Quick, this was their first draft-legal Olympic distance race. I know that our athletes all learned important lessons on the day, and I think we're off to a good start for the 2009 season.
The race was generally well organized, although the pre-race meetings were pretty rough. On race day, there was some terrible officiating in T2, which resulted in Joel Howlett (SK) and Angela Quick (ON) being disqualified. I'll be following up with the ITU on those calls - the officials had basically made up rules which can't be found in any ITU rule book, neglected to tell anyone about the rules at the pre-race briefings, and then inconsistently applied their new rules. Awesome.
There was also a mix-up with the U23 podium placings. I wrote in an earlier post that Canada finished 1st and 2nd in the mens U23 category (and I've got pictures to prove it) but it turned out we actually finished 3rd and 4th after two other athletes were recognized as U23. Andrew McCartney and Andrew Yorke handled the bad news with class, but it's a mistake that shouldn't have happened in the first place; it's not fair to the athletes who got bumped down, nor to the athletes who weren't recognized at the podium presentation.
All in all it was a good outing for our younger (in age and/or experience) athletes. The coaches and athletes represented Canada very well, and OKC was a friendly and welcoming city. We're off to a good start.
Thanks to TriCan and OAT for the opportunity to lead the team.
Train smart, have fun, race fast.