Emma Wins in Chicago

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Oakley commanded some serious attention in Chicago last weekend, launching our newest eyewear technology O ROKR PRO, promoting our new store at Water Tower Place and seeing our premiere female triathlete, Emma Snowsill, win the Accenture Chicago Triathlon.

After a successful O ROKR PRO launch party on Friday night at Water Tower Place, Oakley moved things over to The Hilton Chicago Saturday morning, for the Multisport and Fitness Expo. Oakley was on site with a comprehensive booth showcasing our Sports Performance eyewear line. Oakley’s regional team showed hundreds of competitors the benefits of High Definition Optics and sold many of them eyewear for the next day’s event.

After some intense weather on Thursday and Friday (including a tornado warning downtown), racers awoke to a beautifully clear and warm race day on Sunday. As the Official Eyewear of the 2007 Accenture Chicago Triathlon, the Oakley team was up long before the athletes, setting up an eye-catching booth at the finish line on Columbus Drive.

In the world’s largest triathlon 8,500 competitors rallied to the Monroe Street Harbor to jump into freezing Lake Michigan and swim 1.5K, bike 40K and run 10K.

The 47 pros raced last and the crowd’s enthusiasm as well as the temperature rose to the occasion. Four minutes after the men started their dash the bouy, the top female triathletes, including Oakley’s Olympic hopeful, jumped in the water and started the grueling race.

“It was really cold,” said Snowsill at the finish. “And I kept getting seaweed stuck to my goggles!” But Snowsill utilized her strong swimming background to rise to the occasion.

She trailed after the bike, but moved into the lead about four miles into the 6.2-mile run. A few yards from the finish, Snowsill paused to shake some hands and recognize congratulations. When she did cross the line, wearing her white Oakley Half Jackets, the timer read 1 hour, 59 minutes, 45 seconds—one of the best female finishes in the event’s 25-year history.

Her final time was 99 seconds ahead of 2005 champ Becky LaVelle and she finished nearly two minutes in front of British national champion Julie Dibbens to claim the $10,000 first prize.

"It was an amazing day,” said Snowsill, who last won in Chicago in 2004. “It was good fun. I just said I’m going to put my head down and see what I’ve got. It was a strong training day. There’s nothing like racing to build your fitness. It just cements all your training.”

Oakley teammate Craig Walton, a three-time Chicago winner, came in second to Greg Bennett who finished in 1:48.48, 47 seconds ahead of Walton.

Snowsill’s finish was the fastest since Barb Lindquist’s 1:58.40 in 2002. “It’s a fantastic course in a fantastic city,” she said. “I enjoy coming back every year.”

Look for Emma to win the gold in Beijing next summer!