After a quiet few months where triathletes across Europe are working hard at winter training camps, those who live for the snow and colder climes are dusting off their ski poles and preparing for the 2014 Winter Triathlon season.
This swim leg is replaced by cross country skiing with the run leg remaining and the bike segment on mountain bikes. The opening race is in Sigulda, Latvia and is a landmark occasion for the Latvian Triathlon Federation in what they hope will become a watershed year.
Sigulda has the privilege of being the first race on the ETU calendar and Ivars Lapins, of the LOC Sportlav, says it will be a historic occasion.
“2014 is full of great challenges for the Latvian Federation,” said Lapins. “If we are comparing
winter triathlon with other traditional sports then it's quite new sport for Latvia. But as it is very close to other endurance sports as running, cycling and skiing, then little by little people from those other sports would like to try winter triathlon too.
“As we now have the opportunity to organize ETU Winter Triathlon European Cup and it is already serious name of competition, we can expect that people in Latvia will pay more attention also to winter triathlon.”
The Latvian Federation will also host an ETU European Sprint Cup in Riga in August, presenting a great opportunity for the Federation, and the country, to show off its sporting pedigree.
The Sigulda Winter European Cup will take place on a new, purpose built ski centre. Access is easy for spectators and the race has caught the imagination of the public.
“Last year, for the Winter Triathlon Championships of Latvia, we had over 100 participants with double that of spectators,” said Lapins. “We are expecting a similar amount of participants for the open race plus many international athletes for the Elite European Cup.”
In the Elite Women’s race, it’s an all Russian battle as the reigning World U23 Winter Champion (Margarita Ovsyannikva) and European U23 Champion (Tatiana Bregeda) go head to head. The experienced duo of Yuri Surikova, a double Winter European Cup winner, and Tatiana Charochkina will also be in the mix for a winner’s medal.
In the Men’s race, the dominant force of Pavel Andreev (RUS) will once again line up as he looks to cement his greatness at this discipline. The triple World Champion and double European Champion has won 11 out of 13 winter triathlon races stretching back to February 2010 and will start as clear favourite.
Daniel Antonioli (ITA), Tomas Jurkovic (SVK) and Evgeny Kirillov (RUS) will be fighting for silver if Andreev is on form.