2016 kicks off with great medal victories in Estonia

2016 kicks off with great medal victories in Estonia

By Paul Groves on 28/01/16 at 3:39 pm

Click the chocolate for something nice !

Looking back at last weekend’s 2016 Otepää ETU Winter Triathlon European Championships from the warmth of the office it is immensely gratifying to think that so many athletes, spectators, organisers and officials dedicated that Saturday to ensure that the event was a success. ETU President, Renato Bertrandi was unable to attend but he was ably represented by the long-serving and dedicated Eugène Kraus who was present as Technical Delegate, in charge of the delivery of the event and who also assisted in delivering the ITU Level I Technical Officials’ training course.

Eugène is one of only a few of the top-level technical officials with extensive experience officiating at Winter Triathlon events and he reported back to our President that not only was the event a huge success, but also that the delivery of the event, by a small and dedicated organising team, was a clear message that Winter Triathlon in its purest run, MTB and ski format, was back on the calendar and was looking very good.

The LOC provided live-timing that was available for both mobile phone and for computers and a team of professional photographers, Matugraphy, who caught so many moments of the event and then swiftly made their images available on the event’s Facebook page.

Check out the gallery aside for images of the Opening Ceremony, where the opening speeches were delivered outdoors to the grandstand in temperatures of -18c before a local dance group showed us all how to keep warm. Top marks to the singer, whose rendition of the Estonian national anthem was done without backing. A perfect voice echoing around the stadium. A flame was carried around the edge of the stadium by local children to then light the massive “Olympic-style” flame. Fireworks finished the night and then it was inside for everyone for a well-deserved and delicious pasta-party.

The next morning started cold. In fact during the night the temperatures dropped to minus 23 but rose steadily to race-legal limits and after a delay of an hour, the Technical Delegate allowed the race to start.

Junior and Para waves went off first. The photography team captured some great images.

Next up were the Elite, racing together with the U23 athletes. Due to time constraints and the delays caused earlier in the day, it was a mixed start. The sun came out and on the higher parts of the course the snow was hard and firm, allowing top speeds to be hit of 50kph.

The Age Group races went off last. The German athletes had flown to Helsinki, before taking a very small plane to Tartu. They had all decided that it would be easier to hire bikes at the venue but this plan had not worked out so well. For the oldest athlete, Reinhold Wolter this was going to mean a really tough race, using an unfamiliar bike, with the wrong gears. Born in 1936, he was the oldest competitor but no-one at the race could deny his power and success over the past years. To be honest, if he had said he was in his sixties many would believe him.

At the athlete briefing, held the night before the race, he chatted to World and European Champion, Pavel Andreev RUS.  Between them they found the solution. Andreev would lend Wolter his bike and so it was, having secured once again the European title, Andreev handed over his bike to the octogenarian.

The evening finished in a local nightclub that welcomed all athletes. The medals were presented. Drinks were shared and plans were made for the next big race.

Everyone present was full of praise for the event. A small town but a big, big event and a great future.

Due to unusually warm temperatures, the event being hosted by the Spanish Federation in Reinosa has been cancelled.
Next up for the Winter Triathletes will be on 7th February in Spain. 2016 Vinuesa ETU Winter Triathlon European Cup. This will be the final chance for preparation before the 2016 Zeltweg ITU Winter Triathlon World Championships in Austria.

Renato Bertrandi was delighted with the success of the event in Estonia, “I have heard from our Technical Delegate, Eugène Kraus that the event was a tough one but that the location and conditions were perfect for our wonderful and traditional format of run, MTB and ski. The “state of the art” stadium, with changing rooms, showers, restaurant, free and fast WiFi and the well-prepared courses is just what we have been looking for.  A town with a strong history of winter sports, I am very pleased with the hard work from the LOC and support from the Estonian Triathlon Federation. Athletes need to see that they are getting value for money and I am told that Otepää certainly gave them all they could ask for. If we can continue to deliver Winter Triathlon events at this level then our sport has a strong future. Great performances by athletes, great support from the city. Thank you Estonia !”

Find more details about this event - 2016 Otepää ETU Winter Triathlon European Championships