The Kangaroo Hoppet is the opening race of the 2007/2008 Worldloppet series of cross country skiing marathons, which are held in 14 countries around the world. A good freeze overnight saw the track hard and fast for the start, then softening under the sun during the day. Almost 1100 competitors from 22 countries entered in the three race distances of 42km, 21km, and 7km.
In the men's event six skiers broke away early on, including Freimuth, Swank, 2006 runner-up Pascal Grab from Switzerland, and Australians Sim, Ben Derrick from Falls Creek and Chris Darlington from Jindabyne. Swank broke the pack up at the “Paralyzer” climb up the 12km mark then Freimuth began a series of attacks over the top of the course that left him alone at the front with a short gap ahead of Sim. Grab started to have breathing problems from a rib injury caused by a fall earlier in the week, and after the 15km mark was only able to use one arm for the rest of the race. Sim was within 10-20 seconds of Freimuth until about the 30km mark when the elastic finally broke. Freimuth won in the time of 1:46:57, nearly two minutes ahead of Sim. Derrick skied up to Swank and the two worked together until they hit the Paralyzer for the second time, then Derrick had nothing left on the climb and it was all he could do to finish and hold onto fourth place ahead of Darlington in fifth.
Calder made a good start and after 7km had about a 30 second lead over Bottomley, Phillips, and Camille Melvey from Bondi. Her lead extended throughout the first 21km loop to be five minutes ahead of Bottomley, who had built up a 30 second lead over Phillips. Melvey dropped back through the field while Carla Zilstra-Evans from the Netherlands was moving up. Calder won in the time of 2:08:00, a massive 15 minutes ahead of Bottomley. Zijlstra-Evans took fourth place two minutes behind Phillips, with Irene Dunn from South Australia in fifth and Samantha Bondarenko from New Zealand in sixth.
Australian junior skiers filled the podium places in the 21km and 7km events.
Freimuth is one of Germany's top marathon skiers, with wins this year in the 50km freestyle at the 2007 Konig-Ludwig-Lauf (the German Worldloppet event) and the International Skadi-loppet. His victory today launches his assault on the 2007-2008 FIS Marathon Cup, a series of eight ski marathons based on the Worldloppet series.
Calder recently returned to Australia after spending most of the past two years training in Switzerland. Her win today confirmed her as the winner of the 2007 FIS Australia / New Zealand Cup, which gives her a special quota start in the 2007-2008 World Cup series with all expenses paid. The male winner of the series was Paul Murray of Mt Beauty, who missed the Hoppet due to illness however secured victory in the ANC last weekend at the Australian Championships.
Top 10 Men
Top 10 Women
Full results can be found here.
Kangaroo Hoppet Women's Podium 2007
L-R: Esther Bottomley, Katherine Calder, Belinda Phillips
Photo by Charlie Brown