TREASURE ISLAND - Debbie Shoemaker was wading in waist-deep water in the Gulf of Mexico when she felt something like "a big hard punch in my face."
A pelican had just flown into her, its beak piercing her cheek. Shoemaker was taken to the emergency room, where a plastic surgeon gave her 26 stitches inside and outside her mouth.
"A terrifying experience, especially being by myself," said Shoemaker, 50, who was visiting from Toledo, Ohio. "Nobody would have ever thought that it could happen, but it could and it did."
Floridians know to watch for stingrays and to be wary of sharks, alligators and snakes. But pelicans are usually considered harmless.
Full story is here.
In the blog at the end of last week, I told Jesse that after the weekend of racing I could give him (and all readers) a better idea of what it will take for the USA to get back the third Olympic slot for the men.
The European Continental Championships race last weekend was a good one for Olivier Marceau of Switzerland. His third place finish, earning him a tidy 356 points in the race, pushed him from a ranking number of 40 to 33. This bumped Switzerland past Russia and Australia for country rankings and the countries that will get three slots on the start line for the men.
Interestingly, Dmitri Polyansky did not end up racing, so this helped the USA keep the points spread lower. We can make any number of speculations as to why he didn't race; but, he has been racing a lot, so perhaps he needed a break.
Here are the current Olympic Rankings:
Olivier Marceau (SUI - three country slots): 2808
Brendan Sexton (AUS - three country slots): 2507
Dmitri Polyansky (RUS - three country slots): 2500
Hunter Kemper (USA- two country slots): 2359
Matt Reed (USA): 2305
In order for Hunter Kemper or Matt Reed to get the USA that third country slot, they need to score more points in Madrid than Polyansky or Sexton. First, let's look at Polyansky because he's the closest in rank.
There are 141 points that separate Kemper from Polyansky and 195 points separate Reed from Polyansky. Polyansky has nine races this year in his rankings, with the lowest at a value of 126. He would have to score a place at Madrid, better than 21 in order for his lowest race to drop out and add points to his ranking. If he places 21 or more (22, 23, 23...), then Kemper would need to place 19 or better (18, 17, 16...) to pass Polyanksy in the rankings. Reed would need to place 15 or better to pass Polyansky, if Polyansky places 21 or more.
The 21 place comes from my assumption that Madrid will have a quality of field (QoF) of 20 percent. This comes from looking at the BG Triathlon World Cup Rankings list and comparing it to the Madrid entry list. Fifteen of the top World Cup racers will be in Madrid, giving the race the highest quality of field possible for the Olympic Rankings, which are the rankings that count toward the 2008 Olympic Qualification.
Assuming the highest QoF at 20 percent, here are the points that will be awarded at Madrid:
Quality of Field 10 - 20%
The good news for both Kemper and Reed is that they are not working from a maximum of nine races, so any points they score In Madrid on May 25, will count toward their Olympic Rank. They still, however, need to put a points gap on Polyansky or Sexton to get that third country slot.
Sexton is only seven points away from Polyansky, so on the surface it seems that Kemper and/or Reed could jump past both Polyansky and Sexton with good races. Unfortunately for the USA, Sexton is in the same situation as Kemper and Reed in that he is not working with a maximum of nine races this season so all points he scores in Madrid will count toward his total.
I laid out the simplest scenario above. Of course the math gets more complicated if Polyansky places better than 21 (20, 19, 18...) at Madrid. One simplified way to look at it is Kemper needs to beat Polyansky by at least two places and Reed needs to beat Polyansky by at least six places. That last sentence isn't exactly true since the points spread is more as they place better in the event, but it gets us close.
As I mentioned in a previous post, if I were a betting gal, I'd bet the USA will get that third country slot back at Madrid. Perhaps wishful thinking, but we'll see.
I've also mentioned that Madrid is not the final determining race for those country slots. Vancouver World Championships on Sunday June, 8 will be the final race that determines country slots.
We have two very important races to watch in the next few weeks.