The cream of Winter Triathlon met in Ostersund for one of biggest events in the winter season calendar. The Winter Triathlon European Championships were being hosted in Sweden for the first time and brought together the most competitive field of the season with each athlete keen to do well on such a big stage. Over the two days, athletes from 14 different nations competed in Elite, U23, Junior, Relay and Age group categories in what was a real festival of winter triathlon sport. Some heavy snow on the Friday night failed to affect preparations and made the course even better, setting the scene for the weekend’s races.
ELITE MEN & U23 REVIEW
There were 21 athletes on the start line in the men’s event with a number of recognised names with victories behind them from the European Cup series. Andreas Svanebo (SWE), Pavel Andreev (RUS) and Daniel Antonioli (ITA) had shared 5 wins between them since Lygna in January. They were joined on the start line by the dangerous Kristian Monsen (NOR) and the evergreen veteran Sigi Bauer (AUT). The Elite men were joined on the start line by the U23 field with four different nations competing for this title.
As the sun came out for the start of the race, European Champion and Swedish native Svanebo started well and built up a commanding lead with Monsen and Maxim Kuzmin (RUS) from the U23 race. Kuzmin’s Russian team mate, Andreev was well-placed at the front too and after a short first lap of 1km, the athletes headed off the flat and into the more testing longer laps through the woods.
The two longer laps were far from flat with many twists and turns and it was hard work for the athletes to either maintain a lead or to break away. But despite the difficult terrain, Svanebo managed to establish a break away, closely followed by the U23 Kuzmin. IN fact, approaching T1, the young Russian slipped into the lead ahead of Svanebo with Monson and Andreev closely behind.
After a smooth transition for all into the bikes the status quo was maintained with Kuzmin holding his lead and showing great composure with former champions Svanebo close behind. Again the athletes were challenged by the very technical and very hilly terrain.
As the bike race continued it began to get very tense and competitive with positions changing frequently. At one stage Kuzmin and Andreev established control at the front, before some breathtaking cycling from Antonioli and Bauer brought them back into contention. On the final lap, six riders were in contention and it was Svanebo who charged into 2nd place, taking the lead in the elite category with U23 rider Kuzmin 1st on the bikes overall.
It all hinged on the ski section and after T2, Kuzmin and Svanebo emerged as the leading athletes. Hot on their heels were Andreev and Antonioli with Monson just behind them. The ski course, just like the run and MTB course was tough, technical and hilly but with some very fast downhill sections.
The ski section saw an amazing turnaround as Andreev caught and overtook Svanebo in the Elite. The Russian Federation has invested a lot of time and resources in their Winter Triathlon series and in recent months has been pushing there athletes and Andreev repaid this investment, not just in overtaking Svanebo but putting an extra 40 seconds between him and the Swede to cross the line a comfortable first. The title was his, Pavel Andreev was European Champion. Svanebo secured second place, but in a dramatic finish for third, Marek Rauchfuss (CZE) came from nowhere to make the podium, despite having to serve a 15 second time penalty just before entering the finish chute. Behind him but not quite close enough was Bauer who had put in a dazzling performance on the bike and ski segments.
The U23 men had no option other than to watch Kuzmin as he romped home for victory. His power over all three disciplines resulted in a comfortable victory. Michael Obrist (ITA) finished second and Felix Waldhuber (AUT) coming home strongly in third. The three U23 athletes all had excellent races. Kuzmin’s time would have given him sixth place overall.
ELITE WOMEN & U23
Despite the arrival of guest athlete Emma Garrard from USA, who last year finished 3rd in the European Championships, all eyes were on Czech athlete Sarka Grabmullerova and Borghild Løvset (NOR). In total five nations were represented, including two strong Russian athletes, Tatiana Charochkina and Ksenia Chernykh. Emma Garrard, the USA athlete was using this event as a warm up for next week’s World Championships but proved last year that she would be a threat European challenge. Again, the U23 athletes, representing Norway and Russia joined the Elite on the starting line.
There was not a lot to separate the athletes during the first part of the run with the U23 athletes well placed in among the leading pack. However, as the snow began to take its toll on the athletes’ legs it was Grabmullerova, Løvset and Garrard who stepped up the pace and moved to the front. Just behind them the Russian U23 athlete Margarita Ovsyannikva and her compatriot Charochkina were maintaining a good position. As we approached T1, it was Garrard, Løvset and Grabmullerova who all sailed through the run to bike transition without problem.
On the bike course positions began to change and with the sun coming out there was a little more traction. Chernykh (RUS) was well down the field in the run but showed amazing strength on the bike to move up through the field as American Garrad began to slowly drop behind. Chernykh moved up into third place just ahead of Charochkina as the athletes entered T2 with the lead still being held by Løvset, fresh from her victory last week in Lahte, and Grabmullerova holding second place.
Once into the final ski section, the confident Løvset pushed the pedal further and began to move away from the chasing pack into a comfortable lead. Only Grabmullerova could stay anywhere near her but she was vary of the powerful Charochkina who had moved into third just behind her could not relax.
Løvset enjoyed the fast descents and was in control over the climbs and twists and turns of the ski section as she powered home for victory. Borghild Løvset (NOR) takes the crown and becomes European Champion. Grabmullerova (CZE) showed all the youngsters that she has unfinished business with a strong second and Charochkina (RUS) finished third.
In the U23 race Norway’s Tone Dalen took gold with a truly powerful display of skiing and retained her title. Ovsyannikva took silver.
The Russian federation capped off a memorable weekend with more success in the Men’s Elite relay race. It was a double celebration for Andreev and Kuzmin, who were joined by team mate Konstantin Lavrentyev for the relay. Austria were second and Norway third in the team event.
For full race results of all events, please click here.
Related Event: 2011 Ostersund ETU Winter Triathlon European Championships
|Results: Elite Women|
|Results: Elite Men|