By Paul Groves on 07/02/17 at 3:54 pm
Age Group athletes make Otepää a great Race
The Organisers, led by Siim Ausmees and with the backing of the Estonian Triathlon Federation were thrilled by the way that the positive reports last year showed their race back in January 2016 to have been so good. This year, word got around. Athlete spoke to athlete, friend spoke to friend and amongst the Federations maybe, there was a suggestion that Winter Triathlon, although with a small following, really does have a place on our calendar.
Siim was there to ensure everything went OK, even though it was his wedding anniversary.
Look back in time and you will find numerous European and World Cups. Perhaps if we focus and look forwards we will see this happen again. Clearly there are many out there who run in the snow. We know there are many who put the road bike away in the winter and get out their trusted MTB and there are event some who can ski.
There is an argument that “Winter Triathlon is a European thing”, yet we have had positive comments from Australia, USA and Canada suggesting that there was, is and will be interest in those regions.
If “Winter Triathlon is a European thing” then it is possibly because we do it so well here and because we have such good athletes here. Well then, let us lead and let others follow. Otepää this year was where everyone headed to and Otepää was where the medals were fought for.
The start list was almost double the size of 2016 and once again the small city of Otepää, tucked away in the South of the beautiful country of Estonia became alive with athletes from all over Europe. Some flew to Tallinn and Tartu, some drove. Everyone enjoyed the warm Estonian hospitality and the well-organised ski centre at Tehvandi, where numerous Cross Country World Cup and biathlon events are held.
In the 16-19 category it was a gold for the home nation as Raileen Lelle in her first ever international event. Brother Ragnar Lelle made it a family affair.
The medals kept coming for Estonia in the next category (20-24), with gold and silver going to Aveli Tättar and Kairit Veri, who was here to defend her ETU and ITU 2016 titles. It was also the chance for the first of many Russian medals with bronze going to Yulia Milenia, the 2012 ETU Champion, to the delight of her father, Andrey Gudalov.
For the men, Andres Nopps won bronze in the U23 category last year but opted to race AG this year. Gold medal for him. There were no women racing in this category.
In the 25-29 Age-Group it was gold for the Eastern neighbours with Andrei Milenin taking the title and making father-in-law Andrey Gudalov very proud. There were no women racing in this category.
Next up, the 30-34 category saw Italy, Estonia, Latvia and Russia race. The event was co-hosting the Latvian National Championships and there was a lot at stake. In the early stages of the race it was Oskars Cimermanis who showed a clean pair of heels with powerful running that took him in to T2 way ahead of the Italian, Fabrizio Garetto. We all know that triathlon is not just about the three disciplines of either swim / bike / run or run / bike / ski but also those all-important moments in transition. It was here that Garetto edged ahead of Cimermanis but behind them was Edgars Kokorevičs whose time in transition was brief for both T1 and T2. Garetto, on the bike was taking command. With the ski coming and with his speed on the snow, it looked good for Italy. Cimermanis was faster on the bike than his teammate but the final leg saw Kokorevičs pull past him. Gold to Italy with silver and bronze being shared by Latvia.
In the 35-39 Categories we were treated to a wonderful race that brought together former World and European champions. Quite amazingly, the former World Champions were both British women. Kerry McGawley and Sam Toop have in the past held world titles in Winter Triathlon. McGawley in Zeltweg and Toop in Freudenstadt (2008). McGawley also held the ETU title in 2011 in Ostersund, where she is now based. Just back from warm weather training but already with a substantial amount of ski training under her belt, it would not be a certain victory, as both Brits would be facing defending title holder and local favourite, Luise Puu. She would be joined by Pille Muni who won the 30-34 category in 2016 and now, racing her first year against the “older ladies” had a clear advantage.
For the full results lists, please click here.
Find more details about this event - 2017 Otepää ETU Winter Triathlon European Championships