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Posted: February 25, 2016:  

Triathlon: National, World Champions Headline 2015 USA Triathlon Elite Triathlete of the Year Selections

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Triathlon today announced the 13 professional athletes, including 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team qualifier Gwen Jorgensen, who earned Elite Triathlete of the Year accolades for 2015, selected by the National Governing Body's Athlete Advisory Council (AAC).

"The Athletes Advisory Council is pleased to recognize the 2015 Elite Athletes of the Year," said Joel Rosinbum, chair of the USA Triathlon AAC. "These athletes' outstanding performances and dedication to sport are inspiration and motivation to elite, competitive and participatory athletes the world over. I commend them and all U.S. elite athletes on their hard work, training and racing in 2015, and wish them all the best of luck in 2016. Congratulations to all the winners!"

Gwen Jorgensen (Delly Carr/ITU)

Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.) is the Olympic/ITU Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive season, finishing the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) with a perfect score of 5,200 points. By winning an unmatched seven WTS events in 2015, Jorgensen defended her ITU World Championship title and continued a victory streak that began in May 2014. She also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team with a win at the Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event in August.

Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.) and Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) also claimed the Olympic/ITU Athlete of the Year title. Kanute became the 2015 USA Triathlon Elite National Champion as the top U.S. finisher at ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago, and finished ninth at ITU World Triathlon Auckland for the best finish by an American man in a 2015 WTS event. McDowell raced to a Pan American Games silver medal in Toronto and was the bronze medalist of the Chengdu ITU World Cup.

Alicia Kaye (Clermont, Fla.) and Tim O'Donnell (Boulder, Colo.) earned recognition as Non-Drafting Athletes of the Year. Kaye, a repeat Athlete of the Year in the non-drafting category, won five races in 2015, including St. Anthony's Triathlon, IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder and IRONMAN 70.3 Calgary. O'Donnell had his best finish to date at the IRONMAN World Championship, picking up the bronze. He was also the silver medalist at the IRONMAN 70.3 Latin American Championship, IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman and IRONMAN Brazil.

Paratriathletes of the Year for 2015 are Hailey Danisewicz (PT2, Chicago, Ill.) and Aaron Scheidies (PT5, Seattle, Wash.). Danisewicz won ITU World Paratriathlon Events in Sunshine Coast (AUS) and Rio de Janeiro and finished as the silver medalist at ITU Paratriathlon Worlds. She also became the first U.S. paratriathlete to qualify for a U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team. Scheidies, a multiple-time Athlete of the Year, was the ITU Paratriathlon World Champion and winner of the Detroit ITU World Paratriathlon Event and the Monterrey CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships.

Avery Evenson (Hartland, Mich.) and McDowell were named Under-23 Athletes of the Year for their performances on the national and international stage. Both athletes were fourth overall at ITU Under-23 World Championships in Chicago and were also crowned USA Triathlon Under-23 National Champions.

Josiah Middaugh (Jesse Peters/XTERRA)

The Rookie of the Year accolades were awarded to Heather Lendway (St. Paul, Minn.) and Brad Williams (Riverbank, Calif.). Lendway, who had previously been named an Athlete of the Year for accomplishments as an age-group athlete, finished second at IRONMAN 70.3 Silverman, third at St. Anthony's Triathlon and fourth at IRONMAN 70.3 Austin. Williams posted top-10 finishes at IRONMAN 70.3 events (Texas; Staffordshire; Incheon, Korea, and Gurye, Korea), and was sixth at IRONMAN UK.

Emma Garrard (Park City, Utah) and Josiah Middaugh (Vail, Colo.) were named Off-Road Triathletes of the Year for the third straight year. Garrard posted her best career finish at the XTERRA World Championship, picking up bronze and finishing as the top American. She was also second overall and top American at XTERRA Mountain Championship, and second at XTERRA East Championship, and she became the USA Triathlon Elite Off-Road National Champion. Middaugh had an outstanding season, culminating with his world title at the XTERRA World Championship. He also won the XTERRA USA Championship, XTERRA East Championship and XTERRA Mountain Championship and earned the title of USA Triathlon Elite Off-Road National Champion.

USA Triathlon announced all its Athlete of the Year selections this week, including age-group triathletes and duathletes as well as junior elite triathletes. See the complete list of award winners at

2015 USA Triathlon Elite Triathletes of the Year
Olympic/ITU Athletes of the Year
Gwen Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.)
Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.)
Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.)  
Non-Drafting Athletes of the Year
Alicia Kaye (Clermont, Fla.)
Tim O'Donnell (Boulder, Colo.)  
Paratriathletes of the Year
Hailey Danisewicz (Chicago, Ill.)
Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.) 
Under-23 Athletes of the Year
Avery Evenson (Hartland, Mich.)
Kevin McDowell (Gevena, Ill.)
Rookies of the Year
Heather Lendway (St. Paul, Minn.)
Brad Williams (Riverbank, Calif.) 
Off-Road Triathletes of the Year
Emma Garrard (Park City, Utah)
Josiah Middaugh (Vail, Colo.) 

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

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