Some of the best winter multisport athletes are in Quebec City this weekend for the International Triathlon Union’s first S3 Winter World Cup.
Following a new format that includes snowshoeing, skating and cross country skiing, this weekend’s race kick’s off the Pentathlon des Neiges, which will see 5,750 athletes take on a variety of different races during a week-long festival of winter activity, making it the largest winter multisport race in the world.
“The S3 format: snowshoe, skate and ski is going to be very exciting,” says Francois Caletta, the director of the Pentathlon des Neiges. “The ITU wants to develop something in winter. They’ve been trying with the ski, run and bike format – it’s doing well, they had the world championships a couple of weeks ago. This is the new format that they’re behind.”
The week long festival showcases some of the most beautiful parts of Quebec, adding to the unique nature of the event, according to Caletta.
“The Plains of Abraham is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, parks in the world,” he says. “We have the privilege to play in this park. To be able to skate, to snowshoe, to ski, to bike, to run in downtown Quebec City on natural snow, it’s absolutely unique.”
One of the men’s race favorites on Sunday is Slovakia’s Dusan Simocko, a two-time Olympic biathlete (2006 and 2010), who won the event here two years ago, but had to withdraw last year due to sickness. He’d very much like to take another title on Sunday.
“I like this format (S3) more – I did the old format (run, bike and ski), too,” Simocko said in an interview at today’s press conference. “I think that these are more winter disciplines and I think that it is a good choice. It is a better concept to get the program into the winter Olympics. I want to do anything I can to help promote this format to get triathlon accepted to the Olympic program.”
Seven countries will be represented in Sunday’s race. Simocko will have some stiff competition, especially from Quebec’s own Marc-Andre Bedard, who has been the runner up in the triathlon event here the last two years and won the Pentathlon des Neiges in 2013. Bedard finished seventh in the biathlon at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
On the women’s side of things Quebec’s Claude Godbout has been touted as the woman to watch. A member of Canada’s national biathlon squad, she was third in the triathlon race here last year and also won the Pentathlon des Neiges in 2013. Sweden’s Jonna Pettersson won the triathlon Rattvik a few weeks ago, so she’s another woman we’ll be keeping an eye on, as is Slovakia’s Lubomira Kalinova and St. Jean sur Richelieu’s Annie Gervais, a name very familiar to the “summer” triathlon world thanks to her long distance swimming, biking and running exploits.
Things kick off here in Quebec City with a sprint triathlon (1.7 km snowshoe, 5.6 km skate, 3.1 km ski) tomorrow evening starting at 6 pm. The age group and elite triathlon takes place on Sunday, including a 5 km snowshoe, 11 km skate and a 9.5 km ski.
Stay tuned for more coverage from this weekend’s races from Quebec here at triathlonmagazine.ca
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