March 9 - Canada's Annie Gervais and Slovakia's former Olympic biathlete Dusan Simocko enjoyed victories as a new format of winter triathlon made its debut in Quebec.
In comparison with the usual blend of skiing, mountain-biking and cross-country running, the new format consisted of snowshoeing followed by ice skating and skiing, with a mixture of triathletes and athletes from other sports taking to the startline.
After snowshoeing her way to third place behind only Amber Ferreira of the United States and compatriot Evelyne Blouin after the first discipline, Canadian Annie Gervais took the lead with an impressive skating performance, before holding on over the ski to finish in a time of 1 hour 14min 44sec.
Another Canadian, biathlete Claude Godbout, made up ground on the ski to finish in second place - while Blouin held on for bronze in a clean sweep of the podium for the host nation.
The first non-Canadian finisher was Kamila Borutova of the Czech Republic in fourth place.
In the men's race the most exciting name on the start-line was that of Pavel Andreev, who won a fourth consecutive winter triathlon world title in its traditional form last month.
But despite being well positioned in fourth place after the snowshoe leg, two biathletes in Dusan Simocko and Marc-André Bédard of Canada emerged clear on the skating leg.
Simocko, who represented Slovakia at both Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010, then held on with a solid skiing performance to win with a time of 1:04:33.
Bédard took second on home soil exactly a minute behind while Andreev held on for third.
Further down the field were a host of other sporting stars, including two-time athletics Olympian Joel Bourgeois, ultra marathon and adventure racer Simon Donato, two-time Olympic speed skater Benoit Lamarche, and long track speed-skating World Cup medallist Jay Morrison, as they all enjoyed the new challenge.
Following the event, the likes of International Triathlon Union (ITU) secretary general Loreen Barnett and Triathlon Canada President Luc Landriault joined others to discuss whether this new version of the sport has a future and if it could challenge the other forms of the sport.
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