News and information from the northern hemisphere over the Australian summer
Four Australian athletes will compete in the World Cup in Drammen in Norway this weekend February 19-20. Ben Sim, Callum Watson and Mark van der Ploeg will compete in the 15km Classic on Saturday and the Sprint Freestyle on Sunday, while Esther Bottomley will race only the Sprint. In the last World Cup competition that Sim contested in Norway he took World Cup points, however in Drammen the aim for Sim and all the other Australians racing is just to get in another good hit-out in preparation for the 2011 World Championship beginning next week in Oslo. Watson missed last weekend’s Norwegian Cup races due to illness however has been training again this week and hopefully can bounce back quickly. For van der Ploeg it will be his debut distance World Cup event. The rest of the Australian Team for Oslo 2011 will be training in Beitostolen over the weekend and travelling down to Oslo on Monday. Follow the Australian Team at the World Cup and during the World Championship on the AUS XC Website.
World University Winter Games, Erzurum, Turkey, January 26 – February 6
Five Australian cross country skiers competed at the 2011 WUWG in Turkey. The general consensus was that it was an experience. Esther Bottomley scored an impressive 9th place in the Sprint, placing 3rd in the B-final after narrowly missing out on the A-final. This is Australia’s best ever cross country result at a WUWG. Bottomley teamed up with Callum Watson to finish 11th in the mixed Team Sprint, after finishing 5th in their semi-final and again just missing out on the final on times. In the distance events the individual best results were 23rd (Bottomley, 15km F), 26th (C.Watson, 20km Pursuit), 30th (Ewan Watson, 30km F), 30th (Georgia Merritt, 15km F), and 35th (Phillip Bellingham, 30km F). More details can be found on Callum Watson’s blog. the cross country team in Erzurum was supported by Mark Raymond as coach/wax technician and Paul Kovacs as assistant wax technician.
World Junior Championship, Otepaa, Estonia, January 24-31
Ashleigh Spittle and Robert Jones represented Australia at the 2011 World Junior Championship. As Jones was part qualified and Spittle was a discretionary selection they were only able to start in one event each. In the 5km Freestyle Spittle finished in 80th out of 87 starters, in the 10km Freestyle Jones finished 98th out of 102 starters. Both skiers were a bit down on their form from earlier in the season.
Ben Theyerl was born into a family now three-generations into nordic ski racing in the US. He grew up skiing for Chippewa Valley Nordic in his native Eau Claire, Wisconsin, before spending four years racing for Colby College in Maine. He currently mixes writing, politics, and skiing (not necessarily all related) while based out of Crested Butte, CO, where he coaches the best group of high schoolers one could hope to find.