Do you plan to watch the South African Richard's Bay World Cup online at the ITU website this weekend? Perhaps you should?
In the world of getting Olympic slots for your country, recall from my column about the qualification process that only eight countries will get three men and three women on the start line at the Olympic Games.
Which countries can send three athletes per gender is determined by the "2008 Olympic Qualification" document found on this page. Just select that document to read all of the gory details.
What it boils down to, is Hunter Kemper is currently our third place, USA ranked male and his ranking points total 2359. Complete rankings can be found by selecting the "2008 Beijing Olympic Qualification Rankings" document, found here. Know that the USA is currently the last country to qualify three men on the start line for the Olympic Games.
The country closest to taking that spot away at this weekend's Richard's Bay World Cup race is Russia, specifically Dmitri Polyansky. His current Olympic rank puts him a mere 53 points away from Hunter Kemper. Looking at the scores he's accumulated in his recent races (419, 379, 293, 252, 238, 221, 167, 126, 126) you can see it is completely possible for him to replace his lowest score with a good performance in Richard's Bay.
I have not tried to do the math to figure out what place he needs to get to score that 53 points, but the race point system can be found here by selecting "ITU Points Critera".
If the USA men lose that third slot, the only way to get it back is by Hunter having a solid race at Madrid World Cup. That start list can be found here or the ITU BG Vancouver World Championships June 8th. World Championships is the cut-off date for the Olympic qualification process.
The last country to earn thee starts at the Olympic Games, for the men, depends on the following gentlemen racing for their respective countries. They are all separated by a couple hundred points, as of 4/26/08:
Brendan Sexton - Australia (2507)
Oliver Marceau - Switzerland (2452)
Hunter Kemper - USA (2359)
Dmitri Polyansky - Russia (2306)
Know that all of these guys are on the start list for the Madrid World Cup, found here.
Unless Kemper can perform well, and keep his points higher than the men listed above, we won't need to worry about qualifying a third man to the Olympics at the Des Moines World Cup race.