Australia is sending its biggest cross-country ski team to a Winter Olympics with Paul Murray, Esther Bottomley and Claire-Louise Brumley qualifying for events on the Pragelato course. Along with biathlete Cameron Morton there will be strong skinny ski flavour to this Olympic team. Murray and Bottomley will compete in the sprints and there are hopes that these two will sneak into the finals. Brumley will contest the 15km Pursuit and the 30km freestyle.
It will be even a greater achievement for Brumley who suffers from cold-air induced asthma and has to wear a mask whilst skiing to regulate the air. She gave up the sport after juniors due to her illness however she has come back in recent years to give Australia its best ever results in female distance skiing on the World Cup circuit.
This will be first Olympics that Australia has had female cross-country skiers since Colleen Bolton went to Lake Placid in 1980. It is also a significant step for National Coach Finn Marsland who took up the reins after Nagano when a number of international skiers retired and there was no younger group following through. No Australian XC skiers qualified for Salt Lake City and through a lot of dedication and personal sacrifice, Marsland has brought through a new group of young skiers now onto the international stage. For profiles of the skiers go to http://hoppet.com.au/xc/xcfiles/files/profiles.htm