WS native earns spot on USA Triathlon’s elite women’s team

Erin Jones

White Salmon native Erin Jones placed third on Sept. 11 in the women’s Super Sprint Triathlon Grand Prix, the final stop of the 2014 USA Triathlon Super Sprint Series, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Competing in a final field of 10 triathletes that included five Olympians, Jones posted a time of 40 minutes, 50.42 seconds, which was just over 11 seconds off the winning pace set by Chelsea Burns of Seattle. Burns edged Australian Erin Densham for top honors by .02 seconds.

The race featured two continuous circuits of a 300-meter swim, a 5-kilometer bike ride, and a 2-kilometer run. Jones had to qualify to become one of the 10 finalists earlier in the day through heats on a scaled-down course. At stake for the athletes were shares of a $70,000 purse.

Burns claimed the top women’s prize of $11,500 by outkicking Densham in the home stretch. The two had run shoulder to shoulder after pulling away from the field, but Burns had the better final kick.

Jones followed some 11 seconds later and finished about 2 seconds ahead of teammate Kaitlin Donner of Satellite Springs, Fla.

Burns, as USA Triathlon Elite Sprint National Champion for 2014, earned a spot on the elite women’s national team. So did Jones as a result of her third-place showing. Moreover, Jones received $4,000 in event prize money and another $1,000 for being Team USA’s second-place finisher.

On Aug. 31, Jones was in Edmonton, Alberta, for the International Triathlon Union’s Under-23 World Championships. There, she collected her first world championships medal.

Jones, who lists Colorado Springs, Colo., as her town of residence, finished third in the U23 final, on a course that called for contestants to complete a 1,500-meter swim, a 43.2-kilometer bike ride, and a 10-kilometer run. Jones made it through the course in 2 hours, 6.59 minutes, in just over 2 minutes behind the winning pace set by German Sophia Saller (2:04.52).

Jones trailed the lead bike pack of seven by more than a minute but ran her way back into medal contention, according to a story that appeared on the USA Triathlon Web site on Aug. 31. USA Triathlon also reported that Jones was the first American woman to win a U23 medal since 2008.

“It was amazing, I felt great,” Jones, a recent graduate and new member of the Elite Triathlon Academy, told USA Triathlon about her bronze medal-winning effort. “Our team did awesome yesterday and it was a huge motivation for us to go hard today. Watching [a teammate] run the way she did yesterday gave me motivation that if I’m in the chase pack I can run my way up, too. I just tried really hard, and I did it.”

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