Australian Team for 2013 World Junior/U23 Championship Announced

Australia will take a total of 10 athletes to the 2013 Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships, which are hosted by Liberec in the Czech Republic and start on Monday January 21. Including seven junior athletes and three U23 athletes, this is the largest ever Australian contingent at this competition, and the equal largest junior team since 1989.

With four females selected (Anna Trnka, Ashleigh Spittle, Casey Wright and Xanthea Dewez) Australia will be able to enter its first ever junior women’s relay team. Only six  female Australian athletes have competed at the World Junior Championships in the last ten years. To have four in one year and the ability to enter a relay team is a major achievement. For a while things were on track to have a junior men’s relay as well, however, the trio of Alasdair Tutt, Jackson Bursill and Nick Mongomery will instead focus only on the individual events.

On the U23 side the team welcomes the return of Alex Almoukov from the Biathlon World Cup circuit to join Phillip Bellingham and Paul Kovacs for the Liberec cross country competitions. Almoukov competed at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and was the highest finishing Australian in the 2012 Kangaroo Hoppet. Bellingham comes off the cross country skiing World Cup circuit, having raced the Liberec sprint and team sprint just last weekend, while Kovacs last raced at the US Championships at Soldier Hollow nearly two weeks ago.

The Junior and U23 athletes have had very different lead ups to these Championships. The Junior Team spent most of the last two months based in Klingenthal which is located in Germany on the Czech border around 3 hours from Liberec. The team competed in OPA Cup events in St Ulrich and Oberwiesenthal and German Cup events in Oberwiesenthal and Schonach. Due to a change in snow conditions the team relocated to Seefeld in Austria for the final training block.

Two thirds of the U23 team were in the USA and Canada competing in the Canadian World Cups and other North American Continental Cups in November and December, while Almoukov as mentioned above, has been competing on the Biathlon World Cup circuit in Europe all season.

The team will be supported at these championships by Nick Grimmer, Allison Stoddart and Finn Marsland.

Some quotes from the athletes on the eve of the championships:

Alasdair Tutt, Age: 19
“I’m looking forward to my second World Juniors and being able to use the experiences and mistakes I made last year as motivation to throw down some strong races in Liberec.”

Nick Montgomery, Age 19
“After missing out on qualifying last year, I hit this year with extra drive to qualify and perform in these races. I have really enjoyed the build-up to these races and am looking forward to hitting the Championships in top form.”

Jackson Bursill, Age 19
“The first few races this season didn’t deliver the points I was looking for. Fortunately I was able to refocus just in time to meet the qualification criteria. I am looking forward to racing at World Juniors with this newfound determination. ”

Anna Trnka, Age 18
“Getting the chance to compete at WJC is an incredible opportunity and I’m so excited to be racing in the Czech Republic where I have raced and trained most European winters over the last 6 years. It will almost be like having a home crowd and I can’t wait for the amazing atmosphere.”

Xanthea Dewez, Age 17
“I’m stoked to be able to compete at World Juniors, after training hard throughout this year it’s great to see some good results. It’ll also be an awesome experience, and it will be a great way to finish this trip to Europe.”

Casey Wright, Age 18
“I am really excited to compete at the World Junior Champs. After a tough year completing Year 12 and training, I can’t wait to be a part of this awesome team in Liberec”.

Ashleigh Spittle, Age 19
“It’s going to be great to be able to compete at World Juniors with such a big team because last time there were only three of us. I’m also really looking forward to what I’m sure will be an awesome relay with three great girls!”

Phillip Bellingham, Age 21
“I am really looking forward to racing, I’m keen to improve my result from last year and hopefully having raced the World Cup here last weekend will give me some advantage.”

Paul Kovacs, Age 22
“I am really happy to be racing at these championships, especially considering it will be my last year as an under 23 athlete.”

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