St Ulrich COC Race Report

St Ulrich am Pillersee – Race Report

A belated report from the OPA Continental Cup races in St Ulrich in Austria on December 17-19:

Lescinska Grimmer racing in St Ulrich

Day 1 – Sprint

A group of Australian raced in the OPA Cups in Austria last weekend. The first race was the sprint and saw the highest finish by any Australian in an OPA Cup ever. It also saw Georgia Merritt and Anna Trnka race their first race of the European season and Ash Spittle, Ash Kildea and Lescinska Grimmer gain their best sprint results of the season.

Esther Bottomley finished in 6th place which is arguably one of her best international results. Esther qualified ninth and then raced through the quarters and semis with times up to 6 seconds faster than her original time to make the final. She led the final at the start but tired towards the end to finish sixth and earn herself a spot on the extended podium, some cash, a trophy and a stuffed dragon.

The next best Australian was Lescinska Grimmer followed by Georgia Merritt. The junior girls raced the same course and Anna Trnka and Ash Spittle finished the highest within 1.5 seconds of each other. Ash Kildea was a bit further back behind those two.

Day 2 – 5km Skate

Esther Bottomley started slow and was in 32 place at the 2.3km mark however finished fast to move up 10 places and gain her second top 30 finish in two days. Lescinska Grimmer was again the next best Australian although a little of the pace finishing over one minute behind Esther. Like Esther, Lescinska finished fast and achieved her best FIS points of the season so far. Georgia Merritt was another 20 seconds back which still amounted to her best ever OPA Cup result as far as placing, percentage behind the winner and FIS points.

The three juniors raced well and were happy that they beat a handful of Europeans. Anna finished with the fastest time around 30 seconds behind Georgia and 40 seconds in front of Ash Spittle. Ash Kildea also raced well and for the first time this year did not finish last coming in around 25 seconds behind Spittle.

Day 3 – 10/15km Classic Mass Start

Ash Spittle rebounded from what she saw as a disappointing start to the weekend to race a good 10km Classic Mass start. Although Ash started at the back of the field she was able to over take around a third of those in front in the opening 1km. She then tired but stayed with a small pack of around 5 skiers, the pack slowly spread out with two skiers finishing in front of her and two behind. Nick Grimmer also raced in the 15km Mass start but did so poorly.

An additional race report has been supplied by the younger trio of Australian athletes.

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