Skiers from 23 nations are gathering at Falls Creek in south eastern Australia for this weekend’s Kangaroo Hoppet, the opening event of the 2010 / 2011 Worldloppet season. After a slow start to the ski season in July, good snowfalls over the last two weeks have ensured excellent snow conditions for the event.
Australian Ben Sim is favourite for the podium and hoping to make this his fifth Hoppet win after taking the National 10 k and 15 k championships at Falls Creek last weekend. The biggest obstacles in his way looks like being two fellow Vancouver winter Olympians – Garrott Kuzzy from the U.S., who placed second in last weekend’s 15 k only several days after arriving in the country, and Valerio Leccardi from Switzerland. Other skiers with podium chances include Swiss Frederic Grandjean and Australians Callum Watson, Alex Almoukov and Chris Darlington.
In the women’s field, Slovakian Anastasia Kuzmina, a gold and silver medalist in biathlon at Vancouver, and Swiss Lena Pichard lead the international list, up against a local field lead by current Australian 5 k and 10 k champion Aimee Watson and last year’s Hoppet runner-up Esther Bottomley. Other skiers who could be in contention for a podium place include Swedish ski orienteer Johanna Edin and American Sarah Konrad.
Source: FIS/Allan Marsland