XTERRA’s fastest format returns this weekend with the first-ever XTERRA Short Track race on US soil. The start list is set to be championship level, with the $5,000 prize purse and those crucial World Cup points adding yet another layer of intensity to what is already one of the most anticipated races of the series.
The 2022 XTERRA Short Track Series delivered on its promise of being the single most exhilarating off-road series on the calendar, with 4 of the fastest down-to-the-wire elite races giving fans across the world a front-row ticket to the action at races in France, Czech, Germany and Italy. Speedsters Maxim Chané of France and Loanne Duvoisin of Switzerland finished the series on top, and both athletes will no doubt be looking to do the same this time around as the series adds a 5th race and merges with the all-new XTERRA World Cup.
For those not on board yet, the XTERRA World Cup is a condensed points-based elite series that features 7 stops, 5 of which include a Short Track race alongside the full-distance race for a total of 12 elite races in the series. Finishing positions equal points and points equal money at the end of all 7 stops. Every race is set to have a start list that resembles that of a World Championship and the fight for every position, from 1st to 25th, will be fought tooth and nail to the very last inch.
At Stop #1 in Taiwan we got to see who is in fighting form for XTERRA full-distance racing after the off-season, and now with the first XTERRA Short Track race set for Stop #2 at Oak Mountain on May 21, we’ll get a first glimpse into who the short format specialists will be in 2023.
The start list is based on World Cup standings after the full-distance race the day before, but expect all the fastest names on the circuit such as current XTERRA Champion Arthur Serrières, MTB specialist Jens Emil Sloth Nielsen, and the USA’s own Josiah and Sullivan Middaugh just to name a few of the men. In the Women’s race, expect to see fireworks from the XTERRA Champ Solenne Billouin, World Cup Series leader Alizée Paties, and local hero Suzie Snyder. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg of talent that will contest the made-for-TV format in Oak Mountain. To see just how deep it runs, check the start list for the full-distance race at Stop #2 of the XTERRA World Cup.
XTERRA Short Track races are split into male and female categories, with 25 slots in each race available to those who qualify. The majority of the 25 slots are earned through qualification, while a number of wild cards can be awarded to young guns, local threats, and short-distance specialists tipped to break any sort of status quo and push the speed of the race up front.
Qualification at all 5 races is based on World Cup standings first and defer to the XTERRA World Rankings in the case of a tie. At Oak Mountain, Belgium and Czech the full-distance race takes place the day before the Short Track race and the official start list is released about 2 hours after the results of the full-distance are in. In Germany and Trentino, the Short Track race goes down before the full distance and the official start list is released ahead of the event.
The format of the race is simple. A condensed version of the XTERRA Triathlon, each race puts 25 of the best elite athletes in a head-to-head battle through the swim, MTB, and trail run sections, with athletes going full gas all the way while still navigating all the natural and man-made obstacles of the track. Each track will differ slightly in length and difficulty, making some courses better suited to different skill sets, but generally the format is based on a 2x200M open-water swim, a 7-8K MTB section packed with features, and a 2.5-3K trail run to the finish.
At Oak Mountain, the Short Track course leverages the abundance of natural obstacles, singletrack trails, and switchbacks on offer at the park and not as many man-made features as the European races are expected to feature this year. The condensed format allows spectators to line every section, while cameras across the entire course bring every pass, every fall, and every finish to a global audience tuning in via livestream.
While each stop of the World Cup offers cash and bragging rights, it’s the accumulation of points at each of the stops that will determine the overall winner of the series. The full-distance races offer between 100-120 points for the winner, depending on the level of the race, but for the Short Track races it is the same across the board. Each of the 5 races carry a prize purse of $5,000 or €5,000 (depending on location), and offer a max of 20 World Cup points for racers to add to their tally. And while that may seem like considerably less than the full distance races, it’s these Short Track races that will be the difference in a series this highly contested. So those who don’t have the gas to push hard on back-to-back days will need to finish on the podium in the full distance race, while those who do will walk away with a double-taking from both races.
The points run from 1st - 25th position, with the top five bagging the following:
If you’re not up to date on the World Cup, you can see who’s leading in the men and the women here, and catch the full story of what happened at Stop #1 in Taiwan here. If you’re not sure on how the XTERRA World Cup is structured, check out the scoring system here.
All 5 of the 2023 XTERRA Short Track races will be broadcast live, direct, and for free on the WATCH LIVE page on xterraplanet.com on the following dates:
For Oak Mountain, commentary will be in English with triathlon Hall of Fame announcers Bob Babbitt and Jamie Whitmore calling the race and bringing fans into the action. French commentary will also be available on the following Facebook pages: XTERRA Belgium, XTERRA France, XTERRA Nouvelle-Aquitaine, XTERRA Super Besse, XTERRA Switzerland Brévine, XTERRA Série Québec, XTERRA Tahiti, and XTERRA Balcon d'Azur. Coverage starts with the women's race at 15:00 local time and the men following at 16:00.
The XTERRA World Cup has already begun to elevate the level of off-road triathlon with the deepest field of talent ever to compete in Asia pushing the race faster and harder than ever before at Stop #1 in Taiwan. The effects it will have on Short Track will no doubt be a spectacle, and we’ll see every twist and turn of it unfold this Sunday on the trails of Oak Mountain, USA.
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