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by | 2 Feb 2023

Jost is the European champion in winter triathlon

Last weekend Jost took part in the European Winter Triathlon Championships in Andorra - and confidently won the title! The TCZ congratulates on this phenomenal achievement! Jost wrote us an exciting report:

Report Andorra Winter Champs from January 29, 2023

Race morning in Andorra at 2000 meters above sea level in the beautiful surroundings of the Naturland Bike Center was very cold. A clear group of age groupers came together to decide on the European Championships among themselves. 

In the mainly Spanish starting field there were also some English, French, Czechs, Germans, Italians, Austrians, Estonians and I was the only Swiss.

The course consisted of 6 km of running, 13 km of mountain biking and 9 km of skating, with several laps to be completed in each discipline. There was only sparse snow, but the route was excellently prepared. On the freshly prepared snow we found a pretty good grip, at least on the first of the four laps. Then it became softer with every lap and you had to constantly optimize the line so as not to lose power unnecessarily by slipping and sinking. I sat on the heels of the Spaniard who was running in third place. An Englishman and another Spaniard were in front of us. 

In the first corner after switching to the mountain bike, the two riders in front of me fell because the Spaniard got caught in the barrier net and dragged another rider with him. As a result, I immediately gained two positions and was now in third place. The route was surprisingly technical. On the first descent in the forest we traversed a snow-covered slope with a few bumps. For once, the focus was not on aerodynamics, but on technical skill. Luckily I had fitted thicker tires with deep lugs for this competition. This paid off because I had fewer problems than most other athletes who were mainly riding narrow cross-country tires. 

I felt the strain and the cold. The air is thin at over 2000m and after the hard run I couldn't perform as usual. Breathing was shallow and the wattage was way too low! Had my form completely vanished into thin air during the almost bike-free winter weeks? When I was overtaken by a Spaniard, I thought that I was definitely in a crisis. Luckily it was just this one overtaking and from the second lap onwards I was constantly lapping, which stabilized my emotional situation somewhat. Most people probably felt the same way as me. The only stupid thing was that I couldn't eat because my drinking bottle was frozen. A rookie mistake! Next time I'll fill an insulated water bottle with a warm drink. 

When I switched to skis, I struggled with other pitfalls of winter triathlon. Although I had practiced putting on the shoes and even put elastic laces on my cross-country skiing shoes, with cold hands and the frozen zipper everything still took three times longer than when practicing in a warm hotel room. I was the fourth athlete to switch to skis. At that point I didn't know that I was already at the top of my age group and I didn't care. I wanted to be the first in the entire field to cross the finish line. But the others were not yet in sight at this point. After more than an hour of racing, the field had already spread out. To my surprise, on the first climb I overtook the Spaniard, who had overtaken me on the bike and made a very strong impression. My performance on the bike probably wasn't that bad after all. I was able to gain another place midway through the first lap. Would it really be enough for overall victory? I knew I was probably in second place now. How strong is the Spaniard who skates in first place? I actually overtook him a lap later and I was able to increase my lead on the last lap so that I was able to cross the finish line first with a lead of over 2 minutes. 

The family exchange with the other athletes and supporters rounded off the well-organized event. Hopefully there will soon be another winter triathlon in Switzerland, because it is more than just excellent preparation for the summer season!

Ann-Katrin Kuzmenko