Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - Perspective
Phil's XC Journal: World Duathlon Premiere

- By: Phil Villeneuve

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to race in the first ever Cross Country skiing Duathlon Continental Cup race held in Ramsau, Austria. Here are the details on my experience.

The 15km course was divided in 2 separate 7.5km parts, each consisting of three 2.5km loops that circled the stadium offering the spectators a view of the entire course. After 7.5km of racing (classic style) the racers came into the transition zone and exchanged their classic equipment for their skating gear and burned away for another 7.5km of racing to the finish line. Most of discussions regarding this new style of racing has been targeted around the transition. What to do? The ideal scenario is to use your classical equipment for the first part of the race and then switch into your skating equipment for the second part. Seems like the logical choice, no? However, the current rules regarding Ski Duathlons state that only the ski change is mandatory. So, if your looking to shave a few seconds of your transition time, wearing your skating boots for the classic part of the race or vice versa, using your classic boots for the skating part, would certainly help. But, anybody who has tried classic skiing in skating boots, or skating in classic boots know that this isn't the most comfortable and ideal scenario. Both options offer advantages and disadvantages. It's your choice to use whatever turns your crank.

So, if you've managed to follow along in my rather lengthy description of the transition zone options, you can understand that equipment selection becomes a very important part of the race. Personally, I chose to classic ski in my skating boots without the ankle cuff and so when I arrived in the transition all I had to do was switch skis and poles and ski away. Since most of the competitors were doing the same, I felt I would be on equal ground with them.

Other speedy hints:

By using the old Exel quick release system or just plain loop handle poles you can save even more time off your transition. The Exel quick release system offers a speedy change over from different size poles.

Skiers can skate in their classic boots if they still have the old style bindings or use the NNN system. The new Pilot system prevents you from doing that since the Pilot boot does not fit in the classic bindings hence the reason why 75% of the racers in the Austrian Continental Cup classic skied in their skate boots.

North America's Continental Cup circuit was supposed to host a Duathlon before Christmas in Thunder Bay, Ont. Unfortunately, the lack of snow in the East forced the organizers to cancel the race. Hopefully, race organizers will attempt to showcase this event on the North American Continental Cup circuit again next year. In my opinion, this race style will really help jazz up the sport and create some more excitement within the racing community. It should become part of the racing calendar as mass starts, sprints and same day pursuits have.

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