Oberwiesenthal Race Reports by Nick M and Anna T

Oberwiesenthal OPA Cup Race Report by Nick M

After a week of training which for some was very difficult and was part of a larger buildup to the World Junior Championships (WJCs) and for others involved tapering off to target these races, we decamped from Klingenthal, Eastern Germany and moved to nearby Oberwiesenthal for a successful long weekend of racing. These were our final scheduled races before the Liberec WJCs at the end of January, although others will race this coming weekend in the Black Forest in Germany.

Friday saw a classic sprint for roughly half the athletes travelling with us, including some of the seniors who had joined us. In warm, wet and foggy weather, which is not at all a surprise for Oberwiesenthal, our athletes battled it out against skiers from all over Western and Central Europe. Alasdair Tutt managed to double pole the whole race on a fairly challenging and slow course, enabling him to get the benefit of using skate skis, which are faster on the flat and downhill. Phil Bellingham showed us how World Cup sprinters do it, by falling over in his race. Meanwhile Anna Trnka, Casey Wright and Xanthea Dewez all made it through to the six-at-a-time finals, which for the first two of them was their first time in European races. Casey took Phil’s lead and made close acquaintance with the slush, but overall it was a solid day of racing.

Saturday was a 15km (for the girls) or 20km (for guys) skiathlon, which means that the first half of the race is with classic technique, followed by a quick change of skis, and finished by an equal length skating leg. Not all athletes were competing, and Anna represented us in the girls’ race with a respectable finish in VERY wet conditions. The boys’ 20km race was less successful with only your correspondent finishing the race. Alasdair Tutt pulled out 2.5km into the race, whilst Jackson Bursill skied roughly 17km, after he was lapped in his first skating lap. Officially we were meant to be pulled out after getting lapped, which on a short course with many laps happens quite easily. I was lapped with about 5km to go, yet was able to finish the race. By the end the hills were very difficult due to deep slush.

A 5km (for girls) or 10km (for guys) skate race followed on Sunday. We entered this race with varying degrees of fatigue (particularly me who was still recovering from the skiathlon). The best news from the day was that Xanthea and Casey both fully qualified for WJCs by skiing under the 195 point qualification standard, having raced strongly in once again challenging conditions. I am aware that I have used the same description for each race, but it really did rain all weekend, to the extent that the organisers shortened the course from a 5km lap to a 2.5km lap due to lack of snow. Jackson and Alasdair both struggled in the deep slush, but I was able to use my smaller frame to get up the hills more easily, and skied a race with which I was happy.

We now have 5 out of 7 junior athletes fully qualified for WJCs, and Jackson and Ash Spittle will be travelling to one more race this coming weekend in Germany to get their qualification.

Oberwiesenthal German Cup by Anna Trnka

Having arrived the previous afternoon, we awoke in Oberwiesenthal on Saturday morning to the traditional gloomy weather that we have become accustomed to in Saxony, Germany. Now as everyone knows classic sprinting isn’t a real event (i.e. I’m not very good at it) so the wether certainly wasn’t helping my outlook for the day. Just thankful it wasn’t raining, we headed to the tracks where the German Cup would be held.  The sprint course at Oberwiesenthal is quite interesting (i.e. annoyingly hard). Starting with a 50m flat section of insane double poling, a long decent follows. My advice for anyone competing in this event is to savour that downhill because it’s the only rest you’re getting for the next 3-4minutes. That said downhill shoots you out around a sharp corner into the first uphill, lasting about a minute. Then the last 400-ish meters is flat with only a slight hill over the bridge in the stadium.  Yes, that’s right, after sprinting up that long hill you get to take those tired arms and try and double pole as hard as you can to the finish which seems to never come. Needless to say this course tends to favour the more heavy-duty athletes. Not that this could deter us fearless Australians (i.e. lunatics in wannabe ninja turtle suits) as we had 2 athletes qualifying into the heats; Xanthea Dewez and Alastair Tutt.  Casey Wright also had the fastest time trial of the Australian women however only the top 20 in the open women’s category would go on to the heats. While the rest of us went home to defrost our fingers and toes, Xanth and Tutti battled it out in the heats (believe it or not, cross country sprinting can be vicious). Although neither of them proceeded to the next round both managed to improve their initial standings.

The following day presented us with true Australian conditions (i.e. bucketing rain, poor visibility and ankle deep slush), perfect for a skate distance race. Armed with rain coats and visors we headed out to warm up on slowly deteriorating snow. Unlike the previous day, the men went first meaning the Aussie boys had slightly better conditions than the girls (which was okay because as everyone knows girls are better and therefore a handicap was justified). By the time I got around to racing, I had to flip up my visor within 30 seconds, unable to see the incredibly chopped up track. One of the sharp corners was so rutted out that you could actually see a patch of the ground! The 5km course at Oberwiesenthal has 5 steep hills each followed by a steep descent, increasing in difficulty as the race goes on. So naturally my plan for the race was to go out as hard as possible from the start and hope that I didn’t crash and burn. Surprisingly this paid off and I got a PB with 181 FIS points which gives me full qualification for WJC in Liberec. Well versed in racing in these circumstances we had some of our best results yet. Nick Montgomary was the first Australian boy going sub 200 fis points again and most other athletes achieved PB’s for the trip.

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One Response

  1. In case anyone is confused, these reports are for two different events two weeks apart.

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