CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel may be trying to bring the Super Bowl to Chicago, but Friday he announced he had already sealed the deal for what amounts to the Super Bowl of triathlon.
Chicago will become the third U.S. city to hold a WTS event, following San Diego and Washington, D.C., but the first to hold the Grand Final since the series began in 2009, according to the mayor's press office.
"With our gorgeous Lake Michigan setting, fervor for sports and international demographics, Chicago is an ideal venue for this illustrious event. We look forward to welcoming these world-class athletes and their fans to Chicago and are certain that they will all have a wonderful time," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.
The mayor is an avid triathlete who has competed in the Chicago Triathlon the last two years and finished ninth in his age group in 2011.
Some 150 of the world's top triathletes — 75 elite men and 75 elite women — are expected to take part in the events, along an Olympic-length course calling for a 1,500-meter swim, a 40-kilometer bike race and a 10k run strung along Navy Pier, Soldier Field, Millennium Park and throughout the city, finishing at Buckingham Fountain.
The WTS Chicago stop is set for next June as part of a global tour including races in Auckland, New Zealand; Yokohama, Japan; Stockholm, Sweden; Hamburg, Germany; Edmonton, Alberta; and London.
The Grand Final is set for September 2015 and, pending formal approval, will also serve as a U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic qualifying event for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as a U.S. Paralympic qualifier for the sport’s debut at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. That race is expected to accommodate 5,000 amateur athletes competing in various divisions.
"The history of triathlon is rich in the United States, and we are extremely excited to host the ITU World Triathlon Series and the 2015 Grand Final,” said Rob Urbach, chief executive officer of USA Triathlon. "These events will showcase the sport’s greatest athletes on home soil in the compelling Olympic-distance format."
""The athletes and fans traveling to Chicago will find that our city has much to offer — from impressive hotels, restaurants and shopping to a world-class triathlon course, and we look forward to welcoming them to our great city," said Sam Stark, executive director of the Chicago Sports Commission.
"Hosting the WTS is a great platform for the U.S. to promote ITU draft-legal triathlons," said Gwen Jorgensen, of St. Paul, Minn., a 2012 Olympian and currently the top-ranked woman in the world.
"Competing at a WTS race in the USA is like having a home-court advantage — all the fans are cheering for you. It's an amazing experience, and something that pushes all of the U.S. athletes further than we think possible," said Jorgensen.