Swiss Cup, Campra

The Australian Team group training in Davos, Switzerland, headed towards the Italian side to Campra for the annual Swiss Cup races there. Campra is a favourite with many skiers on the team, not least due to the hospitality (read: food) they always receive. The courses have some decent hills, and never see the sun during the winter months (due to the depth of the valley), so make for interesting skiing. The team was joined by support and wax crew Ben Sim and Fabian Mauz for the races, with the boys glad to have some splits and waxing.

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Wednesday’s 1.4km freestyle sprint was held with a combined qualification event of junior and senior men (as it often is in Australia), followed by separate final rounds for each. Watson and Bellingham qualified in 15th and 22nd positions respectively, going head to head in the heats. Bellingham, who lost contact with the three other skiers in the heat on the final climb, said that he felt his usual spark was lacking. Callum Watson finished the senior mens finals in 11th position, with a solid 106.96 FIS points. Paul Kovacs finished the qualifying ranked 22nd in the senior men, short of the 16 who progressed to final rounds. Mark Pollock, 2 days fresh off the plane from Australia, jumped in his first race in the sprint to finish 43rd in the junior mens sprint event.

On Thursday, the team produced some solid results in the men’s 15km classic event, which was held on a hilly 5km loop. Callum Watson finished in 6th place, 1:55 minutes off first. Watson also achieved FIS points of 69, a result that comes close to his best results in the Australian winter this year, and best ever points of 57 in 2010. Callum said he was “very happy to be getting form back together.” Paul Kovacs, recently recovered from illness and a few bumps and bruises, was next in 16th place, 6:06 minutes back with a solid result of 144 FIS points, a personal best. Kovacs said, “I was quite surprised by the results, i wasn’t really sure how my body would handle it but when when Simbo kept giving me good splits I just went for it and tried not to blow up. I’m really keen to see what a few solid, uninterrupted weeks of training will do for me before i start racing again.”  Phillip Bellingham was a further 47 seconds back in 17th place, finding himself working harder than he would have liked early on in the race and lacking the energy for a strong finish. Australian Junior Team member Mark Pollock, who has recently returned to more competition after a few years’ break, placed 52nd in the 10km classic junior mens event.

From Campra the group heads to Seefeld, Austria, where they will meet up with other members of the Australian team coming from a training block in the US. Some may race in upcoming German Cup events, and Watson and Bellingham are looking forward to joining team mate Esther Bottomley for the city sprint World Cup event in Milan, Italy, on the 14th of January.

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