Engadin Ski Marathon, Switzerland, March 14
Ben Sim finished up his season with an impressive 11th place in the Engadin Ski Marathon in Switzerland. The Engadin is the world’s biggest freestyle ski marathon, with over 11000 starters racing the 42km course. Sim was only 16 seconds behind the winner, Olympic gold medalist and home favourite Dario Cologna, and was with the leaders almost all the way to the finish.
Vasaloppet, Sweden, March 7
Paul Murray’s mistake in the Vasaloppet, apart from not really training much in January/February, was to go with the lead pack for the first part of the race. In the top 150 up to the second drink station at Mangsbodarna and within a couple of minutes of the leaders (after nearly an hour and a quarter), Murray’s elbows gave out at around the 35km mark, and though it was downhill from there for him unfortunately the track wasn’t. Murray ended up in 740th place in the 90km race, having stopped at every drink station in the second half of the race to refuel enough to keep the body going.
Sapporo Ski Marathon, Japan, February 14
In the middle of February Belinda Phillips became the first Australian to win a Worldloppet event outside of Australia, the Sapporo Ski Marathon in Japan. Phillips romped it in, winning the 50km Freestyle event by four and a half minutes ahead of the second woman. The last Australian on the podium in the main distance of a Worldloppet event outside of Australia was Ben Derrick in second place in the Keskinada in Canada in 2000.