Estonian World Cup

Catching up on the last few weeks of international racing action, during which Australian athletes have competed in the Estonian World Cup races at Otepaa and the Austrian Championships in Bad Ischl.

In Otepaa, Esther Bottomley made a gutsy effort in the classic sprint– the only woman who opted to forego the grip wax to double pole the entire course. Bottomley’s result was similar to that in 2011, she finished up in 45th place from a field of 56, 20 seconds off time trial winner Marit Bjoergen with 121 FIS points.

In the men’s classic sprint both Callum Watson and Phil Bellingham chose to go for waxed skis. Coach Finn Marsland said “Callum and Phil didn’t think they were strong enough to double pole the course effectively (the men’s course has an extra hill to the women’s course), the fastest men did and so the time gaps were larger than normal.” This put both boys at the back of the field, feeling pretty disappointed with their sprint results, with Watson likening the experience to his performances in the 100m races at childhood athletics carnivals (see blog for further description).

The next day, however, gave Watson the perfect opportunity for a second hit out on Otepaa’s notoriously difficult courses in the 15km classic. Starting conservatively was the plan on a course that contains both very tough climbs and steep, fast downhills giving little opportunity to recover. The plan worked for Watson, who said “I was still hurting badly at the top of the major climbs but was able to recover enough on the quick descents to maintain a solid and efficient pace for the 15km.” As in the sprint, the field was quite spread out, with Watson finishing 13.5% off the pace but in a season’s best position of 56th. Although initially concerned that Watson had started the race a bit fast, Finn Marsland said “he kept his technique together and it was a good result.” The race was won by Switzerland’s Dario Cologna, with Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk taking gold in the women’s 10km.

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