With plenty of talent and a born desire to win, Team US should not be underestimated at the Collins Cup. Here’s the full US roster for the big race on 28 August.
Team US has been labelled as the underdog in the run-up to the first-ever Collins Cup event. But with a line-up of mentally and physically strong athletes who are highly motivated to take the Collins Cup trophy for triathlon’s founding nation, they shouldn’t be counted out.
In fact, with the Captains Picks adding two Olympic medallists to the women’s side of the team, their chances of causing an upset have jumped up drastically. Here’s the lowdown on the full team and why the Stars-and-Stripes are serious contenders for the Collins Cup.
Captains: Karen Smyers, Mark Allen
Team US Women
- Skye Moench (PTO #10)
- Jackie Hering (PTO #15)
- Chelsea Sodaro (PTO #22)
- Jocelyn McCauley (PTO #41)
- Katie Zaferes
- Taylor Knibb (PTO #90)
Skye Moench has cemented her place as the USA number one thanks to a string of powerful performances including the win at 70.3 Texas in April and third at Ironman Tulsa in May. Moench also showed off her solid swim, superb bike and strong run as the top Stars-and-Stripes finisher at 70.3 St. George, coming fifth in a championship-quality field. While she’s an Ironman star, fifth at the shorter distance Challenge Miami also bodes well for the Collins Cup.
With her great swim and bike rankings plus a sensational run that’s up there with the best, Jackie Hering is a quality athlete across the board. This year she’s had some great performances including third at both Challenge Miami and 70.3 Des Moines as well as two more 70.3 top-10 finishes. If Hering brings her freshest running legs to the Collins Cup, she could certainly pull in the points for Team US.
Chelsea Sodaro (PTO #22) returned from maternity leave to come sixth at 70.3 Boulder on the final weekend of Collins Cup qualification races, giving her enough points to squeeze into the fourth position for the US – fulfilling the dream laid out in her Greater Than One video series. Before that, her 2019 season features three 70.3 wins and as a strong athlete in all three disciplines, this super-mom could show up her rivals.
Jocelyn McCauley was drafted into the team after original qualifier Heather Jackson pulled out of the race for personal reasons. McCauley’s a strong replacement, however, having returned from maternity leave to take second place at IM Finland. Already back to fine form on the swim and bike, if she can sharpen her run just a little, she could be a real asset to Team US in Samorin.
For both the Captains Picks, Karen Smyers and Mark Allen have gone straight to the top. Tokyo 2020 Olympic Bronze medallist Katie Zaferes, who also took Silver in the Mixed Relay event, is their first choice. What a choice it is. One of the best in the business, the 2019 World Triathlon Champion is a front-pack swimmer, breakaway biker and stellar runner. While this is a longer distance than she’s previously competed at, there won’t be many from the other teams who can match her.
The second pick is fellow Olympian athlete Taylor Knibb, who was also part of that Silver-winning relay team in Japan. After quickly making a name for herself as a sensational swimmer and the strongest cyclist on the World Triathlon circuit, Knibb stepped up to middle distance for the first time at 70.3 Boulder earlier this month. Finishing in second, she rode just 26-seconds slower than winner Pallant-Browne despite being on a road bike.
Team US Men
- Sam Long (PTO #4)
- Rudy Von Berg (PTO #8)
- Matt Hanson (PTO #9)
- Ben Kanute (PTO #11)
- Justin Metzler (PTO #44)
- Andrew Starykowicz (PTO #33)
On the men’s side, Sam Long leads the pack. He’s in stellar form after victories at IM Coeur d’Alene and 70.3 Boulder and we’ve also seen how deep he can push in a head-to-head battle when he went to the line against Lionel Sanders at 70.3 St. George. One of the sport’s fastest bike-runners – and still far from his potential at just 25 years old – Long could do serious damage to his competitors in Samorin.
Like Long, Rudy Von Berg scored a victory earlier this month by taking the tape at 70.3 Switzerland. A fantastic athlete in all three disciplines, Von Berg is a picture of consistency having been in the top five for all but one of his last 25 races – 10 of which were wins. With no weaknesses, he’ll be a contender no matter the matchup.
Through the 2020-2021 season Matt Hanson has proven himself as the sport’s best middle-distance runner, taking the fastest splits at five out of the last six events he’s raced – including the PTO 2020 Championships in Daytona, where he came second. He’s got a good swim and a fast bike too, so if he hits T2 at the same time as his opponents, he’s odds-on for victory at the Collins Cup.
Ben Kanute is without doubt one of the sport’s most versatile athletes. Able to race hard and fast over a plethora of distances, Kanute is a highly accomplished all-rounder with a weapon swim that’s seen him take third at Challenge Miami, second at 70.3 Texas and first at Escape From Alcatraz in 2021. That win – his fourth at the iconic event – came on 15 August, showing he’s in fine form.
Another strong all-rounder, Captains Pick recipient Justin Metzler is a classy athlete who’s been racing well this season with three top-10 results including second at IM Coeur d’Alene and fifth at 70.3 Boulder. To add a little familial drama to the Collins Cup, Justin’s wife, Jeanni Metzler, is racing for Team Internationals, which could cause sparks to fly in race week!
The captains’ other pick, Chris Leiferman, has had to forego his slot due to injury, which has paved the way for alternate Andrew Starykowicz to be called up. A strong swimmer and the uber-biker’s uber-biker, Starykowicz took first at Rev3 Williamsburg earlier this year and is a tactical pick if ever the was one. A player of mind games and speaker of frank views, Starykowicz will bring as much in the way of controversial asides as his pure cycling power.
With a ton of talent across the team and two seriously decorated Captains calling the shots, the right matchups could see the US top the points table in Samorin.
We’ll get to see which athletes will be pitted against each other at the Match Draft Draw, part of the opening ceremony on Wednesday 25 August at 18:00 CEST.