Oslo 2011 Update #2 – 4th, 6th, 11th, 15th

The opening day of competition at the 2011 World Championship and the Australian men finished in 4th, 6th, 11th and 15th. If only it was a championship event and not the 10km Classic Qualification race! The guys raced well, Mark van der Ploeg and Ewan Watson made it into the top 10 and qualified through to the 15km next Tuesday.

Nick Grimmer started fast and was in 3rd just two seconds from the lead at the two kilometer mark, however Mark van der Ploeg skied the fastest of the entire field in the second half of the first 5km lap to move up into 2nd place, just behind the eventual race winner Ben Koons from New Zealand. Vandy dropped down to 5th on the second lap, but then came home strong again to narrowly miss the podium by four seconds. Grimmer’s second lap wasn’t as good as his first and he dropped to 11th, three seconds outside the top 10. Ewan Watson on the other hand almost made an even split his two laps, moving up in the last 5km from 9th to 6th. Chris Darlington was the only Australian not quite in contention for the top 10, finishing 15th, but still he skied a much better race than he did in Beitostolen last weekend and his form is on the improve.

Tomorrow is the Freestyle Sprint and five Australians are competing. Esther Bottomley has start bib number six, ranked 50th out of the field of 87 athletes. The four men Ben Sim, Mark van der Ploeg, Nick Grimmer and Chris Darlington have bib numbers 63, 64, 69 and 74, which also corresponds to their ranking in the field of 122. While it would be fantastic if Esther or any of the guys made the top 30 and the finals, they will have raced well even to make a top half of the field result.

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