Sunday, April 12, 2009

2009 Tri Predictions: Serious Name-Dropping

Who will set the performance standards on the Minnesota multi scene in '09? Hey, let's do some serious name-dropping.

Last year's runner-up for USAT Athlete of the Year
Cathy Yndestad, will be going for her 3rd consecutive Minnesota Triathlete of the Year award. A phrase of advice: Don't bet against her. At this point in her career only an injury can get in the way. There are many great girls out there who can push her, but none appear ready to close the gap, though don't be surprised if Kortney Haag, 2008 Minnesota Rookie of the Year, makes Cathy's racing life miserable in 2010.

As far as Cathy's fellow nominees for MN-TOY '09, let's list the usual suspects:
Marlo McGaver, Julie Hull,Marnie Walth and toss Kortney's name into the mix as well.

The woman (the amazing Brooke Davison) who stood between Yndestad and the USAT AOY trophy last year is now a pro. Can we assume that Cathy is the favorite to win the big prize this year? If she were to limit her racing to 70.3s and shorter, the answer would probably be yes. She plans to qualify for Hawaii Ironman World Championship this year, though. And there are several American women who "do" 140.6 better than Cathy, most notably sub-10 hour girls, Rachel Ross, Wendy Mader, Kathleen Calkins and emerging superstar Heather Jackson. A 10:10 would therefore appear to be a blemish on her scorecard and probably drop her out of AOY contention. This can be called the "Heidi Grimm Syndrome." In 2006 Heidi was 9 for 9 heading into Kona. She appeared to be the next AOY until she turned in a 10:36, for which she was crowned Military World Champ. But at least 20 American girls went faster than she did. She had to settle for an Honorable Mention, and chances are, Cathy will fall victim to "HGS."

Brian Bich, 2008 USAT Master of the Year, has been our state's Triathlete of the Year for the last three years. Can the mild-mannered biology instructor, now 43, make it four in a row? Well, if anyone is due for an off-season, it's Brian. Heck, he hasn't had a bad race since 2002. Despite his relatively long teeth and his defiance of the law of averages, don't bet against Bich (which is pronounced "Bish"). Why? Two reasons. Firstly, mitigating circumstances should prevent two of his four closest challengers--Jeremy Sartain and Sam Hauck--from catching up. Jeremy may need at least half of the season to return to the form he displayed before his devastating motorcycle accident, and Sam will be juggling the stresses of medical school. The other challengers are Dan Cohen and Curt Wood and their head-to-head battles with Brian will tell the story. Another name to throw into the mix is affable 22-year-old Devon Palmer. This kid has the potential to be special. Will 2009 be the year he starts barking with the big dogs? Or 2010? The question isn't "if" he'll get there. It's "when" he will get there. The other factor is that Brian is Minnesota's "Dave Scott." Like Scott, Bich is an "odds defier." You don't bet against Dave, and you shouldn't bet against Brian.

Stay tuned for more name-dropping in these categories: Masters, Grand Masters, Juniors and Most Improved. If you have questions or comments, send them to