A brief history of 35 years of Winter Triathlon
From 20-21 March, Andorra will host the World Triathlon Winter Championships for the first time, streaming over on on TriathlonLIVE.tv. It was in Mals, Italy that the inaugural World Championships were held and Paolo Riva led home a huge home nation contingent to take the gold and since then the sport has grown, developed and become popular around the world, with Kenya sending a team for the first time in 2020.
The first Winter Triathlons in Europe began in Spain in 1987, with restless triathletes looking for a winter activity, including World Triathlon Results Director Enrique Quesada.
“It emerged as a sport even before duathlon in southern Europe,” says Enrique. “The first idea was to hold the run in a village, then bike up to the winter resort and have the ski segment on the snow.”
The model proved successful very quickly and stayed in the format for several years, but there were inherent organisational difficulties with the distance between transition areas and the equipment needed.
“Some of the big names of cycling were also involved because of marketing and sponsors and races took place every year in France, Switzerland, Spain and so on. But you couldn’t block the roads at the weekend because they were often the only route up the mountain.”
“As we moved to the stadium concept with multiple laps for the summer triathlon, there was then a move to try and copy that approach with the winter format. “Im a meeting someone said “Why not just bike on the snow?” To be a part of the Winter Olympics the charter states that the sport has to take part on snow or ice, so the vision was to move everything onto the snow.”
Some of the difficulties were therefore removed, such as closing the roads, but then creating a snow track strong enough to ride on became the next challenge. The last World Championship of the old model was held in 2000 in Jaca, Spain.
“The athletes adapted very well, the top athletes have a solid ski base with their national teams. The cross-country ski made it more accessible than mountain skiing and switching the bike from road to mountain wasn’t a big change.”
“The trouble is when the temperature hits zero degrees the snow starts melting. The run was also then on the snow, and depending on the conditions some athletes wore spikes to help them run faster. Suddenly the visuals and imagery of the sport changed drastically, it looked spectacular. Part of the Olympic requirement is a good TV product and that is what we have now.”
You can listen to the full Winter Triathlon podcast with Enrique Quesada and Italy’s Sandra Mairhofer below. Mairhofer won the first Winter Cup of the year in Asiago in February, following it up with the National title just two days later.
“Winter Triathlon is always an adventure because you never know the exact distance or altitude or elevation, it depends a lot on conditions and the forecast so it comes down to a late decision,” says Mairhofer. “Winter Triathlon is a beautiful sport and spectacular with the racing in loops around the grandstand meaning spectators see us pass regularly. Every year more people are participating and getting into the Winter Triathlon family.”
You can watch all the action from the World Triathlon Winter Championships on TriathlonLIVE.tv on Saturday 20 March.
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Related Event: 2021 World Triathlon Winter Championships Andorra
|Results: Elite Men|
|1.||Hans Christian Tungesvik||NOR||01:16:47|
|Results: U23 Men|
|5.||David Puertas Tenorio||ESP||01:34:08|
|Results: Junior Men|
|4.||Alvaro Lopez Lucia||ESP||00:43:26|
|Results: 2x2 Mixed Relay|
|1.||Team I Norway||NOR||01:25:36|
|2.||Team I Italy||ITA||01:26:44|
|3.||Team I RTF||RTF||01:27:01|
|4.||Team I Romania||ROU||01:30:10|
|5.||Team I France||FRA||01:33:44|
08:52 - 03 Feb, 2021