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It was a race of firsts as European champions Pavel Andreev and Borghild Lovset cap stellar seasons winning their first World Championships at the first ITU World Championships to be held in Finland.
The small town of Jämijärvi, 250km north east of Finnish capital Helsinki was the setting for the Winter Triathlon World Championships. Elites, U23, juniors and 79 Age Group athletes contested the season finale in beautiful conditions with clear skies, gusty winds and temperatures of minus ten Celsius.
The Elite and U23 men kicked off events for a highly anticipated battle between defending World champion Andreas Svanebo, the ever improving and current European champ Pavel Andreev, two time World champions Sigi Bauer and Arne Post and consistent performer Italian Daniel Antonioli.
At the end of the 6km two lap run Andreev, Kuzmin and Lavrentyev entered transition with a slim lead over a chase group of eight athletes. The chase included with all the pre race favorites apart from Bauer who had dropped over a minute back.
Andreev and U23 athlete Kuzmin pushed hard together on the bike for the first lap of four dropping Lavrentyev. From here Andreev seized the initiative and broke away to lead by 80 seconds coming into T2. Kuzmin dropped back to the chase pack of Svanebo, Rothberger and Sigi Bauer who pushed hard during the bike to move back into contention.
Andreev lead for the entire ski but did well to hold off the fast moving Norwegian Post who obliterated the field moving from 9th to second but narrowly failed to catch Andreev at the line.
“The pressure during the ski from Post and Svanebo was really big. I was ready for a sprint finish if necessary, but at the end I was just able to do enough. My whole year was focused for this event and I felt very strong inside today.”
Young gun Maxim Kuzmin of Russian hung on to come 4th overall and took out the U23 World title by over 2 minutes.
In the women’s race home favorite Maija Oravamaki thrilled the fans with an exciting lead at the end of the run. Oravamaki was followed into T1 by a group of 5 including favorite Sarka Grabmullrova of the Czech Republic as well as US athlete Emma Garrard.
During the bike discipline Oravamaki slipped down to 3rd with Norwegian Løvset powering through the filed from 8th to lead by a whopping 3 minutes coming into T2. Grabmullerova positioned herself well after the bike now in second but was unable to put a large dent in Løvset’s lead.
Løvset hung on for the win her first World title, Grabmullerova second and Oravamaki third to the delight of the fans.
“I am not satisfied with my run.” said Løvset after the race. “I am not a strong runner, but coming into the bike I saw more women in front of me that I thought before the race. In the second half of the run I started to be a little sceptic about my possibilities, but once on the bike and I started to pass I felt more comfortable. When I took the lead I could not relax. I did my best on the bike and on the ski and only on the very last ski lap was I was convinced I would win.”
ITU President and IOC Member Marisol Casado was in attendance to crown the new champions and was full of praise for the local organising committee who had to deal with some particularly difficult weather conditions in the days leading up to the event. “The race was excellent and the athletes were happy. In Jämijärvi we were able to see the simplicity of Nordic design applied to our event” said President Casado.
2011 Jamijarvi ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships
March 26, 2011 – Jamijarvi, Finland
6km Run, 11.4km Mountain Bike, 10km Cross Country Ski
Gold – Borghild Løvset (NOR)
Silver – Sarka Grabmullerova (CZE)
Bronze – Maija Oravamäki (FIN)
4th – Yulia Surikova (RUS)
5th – Eva Skalnikova (CZE)
Gold – Pavel Andreev (RUS)
Silver – Arne Post (NOR)
Bronze – Andreas Svanebo (SWE)
4th – Daniel Antonioli (ITA)
5th – Sigi Bauer (AUT)