Tuesday, October 13, 2009


(Below - Hammering through the gloom, Cathy Yndestad heads for downtown Dallas. Image courtesy of ASIPhoto.com. Right - Florida's Mandy Mclane winning her 2nd major Olympic distance triathlon of the year.)

Most of the girls who will receive 2009 USAT Athlete of the Year consideration were in Dallas for the 3rd annual Toyota US Open last Sunday. Apple Valley' s Cathy Yndestad, a two-time AOY Honorable Mention, and Windemere, Florida's Mandy Malone went off the front; not only in the Race to the Toyota Cup, but in the battle for the AOY award.

The morning was dank, gray and chilly and conditions were not going to improve. The downtown highrises were decapitated by gauzy mist. Twenty-plus miles away, Cathy stood on the slope leading into the slate waters of Joe Pool Lake. Standing nearby were fellow Elite Championship wavers Lindsay Whalen of Chicago, Florida's super master Linda Robb, the vastly improved Jenny Fletcher, a transplanted New Yorker who now calls Santa Monica, California home, and Mandy McLane. All of these girls are vying for post-season honors. The question is, which would get the Big Prize--the US Athlete of the Year crown--and who would settle for Honorable Mention.

From the get-go, Mandy and Cathy demonstrated an aggressive purposefulness that the others couldn't match. In the early miles of the bike segment it became clear that one of these girls would win. Cathy had faced Mandy twice this season, at Life Time Fitness and at Nationals, and come out on top both times.

But this was a different Mandy Mclane.

As always, Cathy fought tooth-and-nail, but this was Mandy's day, her eventual margin of victory 47 seconds. Lindsay Whalen rounded out the women's Elite Championship podium, finishing 1:17 after Cathy.

Here's a look at the seasons of these three great triathletes. Who do you think is in the driver's seat in the race to the AOY award?

* Cathy Yndestad - Six wins in 11 starts plus a 3rd place overall finish at Nationals, where she out-raced both Lindsay (8th) and Mandy, who did not crack the Top 25, highlight her 2009 scorecard. Additionally, she only missed the podium on one occasion, a 4th at St. Anthony's. In nationally visible events, she has one win (Life Time Fitness) and two 2nds (Buffalo Springs Lakes 70.3 and Toyota US Open). In Cathy's favor here is her consistency and the her head-to-head records against Mandy (2-1) and Lindsay (3-1).

* Mandy Mclane - Huge wins at Chicago, Florida 70.3 and Toyota US Open are her highlights. Non-elite efforts at Nationals and the Florida Challenge Half, and placing behind both Cathy (by 2:48) and Lindsay (by 1:12) at Life Time Fitness raise the question of consistency.

* Lindsay Whalen - Like Mclane, Whalen has several big wins--Hy-Vee, Memphis in May, Miami International and Augusta 70.3--this season. On the downside, Mandy beat her by more than 4 minutes at Chicago and 2:04 at Dallas, and Cathy outperformed her at Life Time (by 1:36), Nationals (by 1:30) and Dallas (by 1:17).

Cathy will face Mandy and Lindsay one more time this season, that being at the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL on November 12.

US Open Results:

Editor's Note: Other girls who should also receive AOY consideration include long distance stars Kathleen Calkins and Meredith Brooke Keeran.