JAMIJARVI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
The 2012 Winter Triathlon season draws to close with the ITU Winter World Championships in Jamijarvi, Finland.
This is the second year in a row the World Championships have been hosted in the Finnish town and last year saw wins for Pavel Andreev (RUS) and Borghild Løvset (NOR)
Both Andreev and Løvset are back this year to try and defend their titles but they will face stiff competition from a stellar field looking to end the Winter season on a high.
ELITE MEN REVIEW
Andreev has been a consistent performer in this year’s Winter European series. He has two European Cup victories to his name and enters this race on the back of his win in Mals a fortnight ago.
Daniel Antonioli also has two series wins under his belt from Schwanden and Oberstaufen. The Italian veteran has an incredible record of consistent podium finishes, 11 podiums in his last 11 European Cups, stretching back to 2008.
It is at the bigger championships where this consistency has faltered, but a runner up spot at the European Championships broke the mould and he will view this race as his breakthrough chance.
In Valsesia, Antonioli was pipped by Andreas Svanebo. On his day, there aren’t many better Winter Triathletes than the Swede but after illness plagued his early European season, he bounced back to win his fourth European Championship title.
The 2010 World Champion will be determined to reclaim his crown after finishing third last year.
Maxim Kuzmin (RUS) is another interesting contender to watch. The 2011 U23 World and European Champion has made the step up to the Elite level this year and hasn’t looked out of place with two 4th place finishes in 2012.
ELITE WOMEN REVIEW
Borghild Løvset (pictured below) will have to work hard to defend her title she won so brilliantly last year in her maiden season.
A shock second place to Helena Erbenova (CZE) at the European Championships was unexpected but Løvset has only one other European Cup victory to her name this year after winning the season’s opener in Lygna.
Erbenova is definitely one to watch and will be determined to ensure her European Championships win was no flash in the pan.
Russian duo Yulia Surikov and Tatiana Charochkina are consistent and dangerous.
Surikova has two podiums in European Cups in 2012 with victory in Lahte and second place in Mals. But after a DQ in 2010 at Eidsvoll and 4th place in 2011 she will be desperate to put her World Championship form right.
Charochkina is another top athlete who has shown remarkable consistency in International competition – she hasn’t finished outside the top 6 of any race since 2008 – although a victory still eludes her.
Sarka Grabmullerova has not yet competed in a 2012 International triathlon race but she was runner up in the Europeans and Worlds last year and cannot be ruled out here.
Pavel Yakimov is the one to watch here. The Russian is garnering a lot of admiring glances who have monitored his improvement year in year out.
A double Junior World Champion in 2010 and 2011, he will look to make the step up here and secure the U23 title. Having successfully made the step up from Junior European Champion to Junior U23 at Valsesia, whoever finishes ahead of Yakimov will do very well.
The best chances may fall to Norway’s Carl-Frederik Hagen, a bronze medalist at the Europeans a year ago, and Germany’s Julian Erhardt, who has finished in the top ten of two Elite European Cups this year.
Continuing the steady stream of talented young Russian athletes, Margarita Ovsyannivka is the reigning U23 World Champion.
She came third in the European Championships and also posted an impressive second place amongst the Elite field at the Lahte European Cup
Will it be third time lucky for Romana Slavinec (AUT)? Twice a runner up at World Championship level in 2010 and 2011, she returns to Jamijarvi a European Champion after claiming her maiden title a few weeks ago in Valsesia.
Norway’s Tone Dalen will also be a threat. She has won European titles at Junior and U23 level but lost her U23 European crown when she finished second in Valsesia.
An opportunity to watch the new stars of Winter Triathlon in action; Pavel Eliseev has the Junior Men’s title under his belt from Valsesia and looks well placed to do the World double.
Tatiana Loginova is also going for a Russian Junior double, to follow her own individual success at the European Championships.
But home athlete Emmi Paukku was fifth a year ago and she will receive plenty of support from the home crowd.
Along with the Elite and Junior athletes, over 40 Age Group competitors will take place across all of the age categories and a Relay race is also scheduled for the Sunday.
Live timing of the race will be available here