Thursday, September 3, 2009


A record turn-out and the deepest Olympic field yet are anticipated for this year's two-day event.

The women's sprint course contest on Saturday should come down to a battle between Shelley Nelson of Edina, and Sara Hermanson of Andover. Nelson has won two of the five races she's entered this season and was runner-up here in 2008. Hermanson has raced only once this season: a 6th place finish at the ultra-challenging Rage in the Sage Half IM in Nevada last April.

Advantage: Shelley Nelson.

Currently, no one in the men's field stands out as a clear favorite. It's a good bet that a late registrant, a la Thunder Bay, Ontario's Jonathan Balabuck in 2008, will win. Balabuck, by the way, knocked Erik Hendrickson's five-year-old course record down by 1:08.

SCVS Overall Course Records: Jonathan Balabuck's 56:23 (2008) & Becky Youndberg's 1:00:32 (2004). Race Distances: 1/3 mile wein, 10 mile bike, 4 mile run.


The 7th edition of the St. Croix Valley Olympic Triathlon should be very competitive and the overall course records are definitely in serious jeopardy. Expect two men to dip under David Holden's 1:58:38-CR, set in 2006. Those men: Duluth's Brian Bich and Columbia Heights' Matthew Payne, both of whom will be making their SCVT debut on Sunday. Payne is a rising star with five wins in the last two seasons. Bich is a four-time Minnesota Triathlete of the Year, who will be going for his 38th tri victory since the turn of the Millenium.

Though Payne may be healthier (Bich has been bothered by calf and back issues this season), don't bet against Bich.

Who will share the podium with Brian and Matt?

Good question. Our guess is that it will be 23-year-old Ross Weinzierl of St. Paul, whose 2009 results suggest that he may only be a season away from barking with our region's Big Dogs.

The women's Olympic field will be the most competitive yet. While 2008 Minnesota Rookie of the Year Kortney Haag, who placed 2nd here last season, goes off the front in pursuit of Cindi Bannink's course record (2:09:43, set in 2007), the next four places will be fought over by rising stars Lydia Novotny (2 wins in 2009), Rookie of the Year frontrunner Suzie Finger, Katherine Schlaefer (coming off a podium finish at St. Paul Olympic) and New Bri Tri winner Greta Simpson.

Let's also mention rookie Leah Prudhomme, who's coming off a 2nd place finish (by 4 seconds) at Lakes Country. If she cracks the top 3-5 here, a Rookie of the Year nomination may come here way.