This is the first of National Team Email Reports during the 2009 Australian winter. The intention is to provide a summary of team activities and competitions during the season, and in particular to report on progress in the Australia – New Zealand Continental Cup Series. This and other news will also be available on the Australian Cross Country Skiing Website. A new addition to these reports is the attached ‘Comic Report #1″, which includes more images than this email report. Please feel free to forward to other interested readers and to send in feedback or any suggestions about how the reports can be improved.
– Finn Marsland, National Team Coach
Australian Sprint and 15/30km Championship, Falls Creek, August 8-9
This coming weekend Falls Creek is host to the Australian Sprint Championship and Australian 15-30km Championship. The Sprint event on Saturday August 8 has Open and Junior categories, while the Women’s 15km Freestyle and Men’s 30km Freestyle on Sunday August 9 has Open and Masters categories. The Falls Creek Junior Cup will also be held on Sunday, and while it is not a championship event it is a junior selection race. The Open class events also count towards the FIS Australian – New Zealand Cup, and international skiers have already arrived to provide extra competition for the Australian Team.
Paul Murray has just returned from New Zealand where he was training with the US Sprint Team, and will be gunning to add one more Australian Sprint title to his belt before his planned retirement in 2010. Murray will have tough international competition, including Valerio Leccardi of Switzerland who narrowly missed the finals of the 2009 World Championship Sprint by 0.01 of a second. Other Australian men sprinting fast this season include Mark van der Ploeg, Ben Sim and Nick Grimmer. In the women’s field reigning Australian Champion Esther Bottomley will likely have her biggest challenge from former team-mate KT Calder who is now skiing for New Zealand.
In the women’s 15km Freestyle Calder will likely be strong, with the main Australian contenders Bottomley, Aimee Watson from NSW and recent Australian Pursuit Champion Clare-Louise Brumley from Victoria. Watson has struggled with some minor injuries this last month however skied solidly in her first distance race at Perisher last weekend. The men’s 30km Freestyle is very hard to pick. 2008 Australian 30km Champion Ben Sim is in good shape, though ranked only 4th for the event after Thomas Diezig from Switzerland and Japanese skiers Tomio Kanamaru and Wataru Omori. NSW Juniors Alex Almoukov and Callum Watson have been skiing well this winter, with Victorian contenders led by Andrew Mock the recent winner of the Hotham to Dinner Plain 12km Freestyle.
Reports and results from the weekend will be posted on the Australian Cross Country Skiing Website
FIS Australia – New Zealand Continental Cup
The FIS Australia – New Zealand Cup (ANC) is the only Continental Cup for cross country skiing in the southern hemisphere. There are 10 events in the series; seven in Australian and three in New Zealand, with nine of these giving points towards the overall series. The winner of the series receives all their expenses paid at World Cup events at the end of the year. Last year Ben Sim and Esther Bottomley won the ANC, but this year the international competition will be tougher. Strong skiers from Japan and Switzerland are contesting many of the men’s events, while former Australian KT Calder now skiing for New Zealand will be the one to watch out for in the women’s events. After the first round of events last weekend Bottomley and Mark van der Ploeg will be wearing the yellow leader bibs at Falls Creek this weekend.
After this weekend the ANC moves to Perisher Valley and then to New Zealand on consecutive weekends, before returning to Falls Creek for the final event the Kangaroo Hoppet on August 29.
Full standings and schedule of the ANC on the Australian Cross Country Skiing Website
Australian Pursuit Championship and Other Sprint Events, Perisher Valley, July 23-25
On July 23 Ben Sim from NSW and Clare-Louise Brumley from Victoria became the inaugural Australian Pursuit Champions. The Pursuit was added to the Australian Championship schedule after the calendar review that was conducted in 2008. With the Pursuit event now a staple of the major championship events worldwide it was decided that our athletes should be able to gain more experience in this event format at home. Sim had a close battle with NSW junior Callum Watson on the classic leg of the men’s 15km Pursuit then made a clear break just after the equipment change. For Brumley it was her 10th Australian title and her first since she competed for Australia at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.
Mark van der Ploeg and Esther Bottomley won the individual time trials and the respective A-finals of the ACT Sprint Championship on July 24. This was the first event of the 2009 FIS Australia – New Zealand Cup. Van der Ploeg won the Classic Sprint A-final ahead of Ben Sim and Thomas Diezig from Switzerland, while Bottomley won ahead of KT Calder from New Zealand and Aimee Watson from NSW.
In the Australian Team Sprint Championship on July 25 the NSW duo of Ben Sim and Alex Almoukov were too strong for Victorians Nick Grimmer and Mark van der Ploeg in the men’s final. In the women’s team sprint final Esther Bottomley and Lescinska Fackerell teamed up to win for Victoria ahead of NSW juniors d’Arcy Baxter and Lucy Glanville.
More details on the Australian Cross Country Skiing Website.