Australian Junior XC Ski Team: 2012/2013 International Program Review

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Overview  

Ski and Snowboard Australia organised an Australian Junior Team European Tour in the lead up to the World Junior Championships. The aims of the trip were multi-dimensional. The primary aim was to put athletes in the best possible position to excel at the World Junior Championships. The trip also aimed to increase the on-snow time and international race experience of our top junior athletes so as to further their development and help transition them into the senior age classes. A more detailed description of the trip is available in the first Appendix.

Staff

Coach – Nick Grimmer
Manager – Allison Stoddart
Support provided at World Juniors by – Finn Marsland
Support provided at Oberwiesenthal races by – Fabian Mauz

Athletes

Anna Trnka – Mount Beauty
Ashleigh Spittle – Ivanhoe
Casey Wright – Yarra Valley
Xanthea Dewez – Wangaratta
Alasdair Tutt – Wangaratta
Jackson Bursill – Canberra
Nick Montgomery – Melbourne

Results Highlights – World Junior Championships

Xanthea Dewez – 46th out of 68 in the classic sprint. Significance: Highest finish by an Australian female in this event, second highest finish by an Australian female ever at World Juniors. Since 2004, Ben Sim has been the only Australian athlete to place higher than 46th.

Anna Trnka – 54th out of 76 in the pursuit. Significance: Highest placing and best percentage of the field by any Australian female ever in a distance event at World Juniors. In distance racing only Ben Sim and Alex Almoukov have placed higher at World Junior Championships.

Casey Wright – 50th out of 68 in the classic sprint. Significance: Second highest finish by a female in the event to Xanthea Dewez and third highest finish by an Australian female in any event at World Juniors.

Alasdair Tutt – 64th out of 81 in the classic sprint. Significance: Second best placing by a male in this event at World Juniors. 4th best overall in this event behind Ben Sim, Xanthea Dewez and Casey Wright

The Australian Team achieved four results in the top 80% of the field and one in the top 70% of the field. Three of the athletes that achieved these results will race and are eligible to race at the World Junior Championships in 2014. Xanthea Dewez who achieved the highest placing is eligible to race at the World Junior Championships in 2014 and 2015.

Australia entered its first ever female relay team at the 2013 World Junior Championships.

More racing highlights

  • Anna Trnka qualified for World Senior Championships
  • Anna Trnka, Xanthea Dewez, and Jackson Bursill met the full qualification standard for World Juniors during the trip. Nick Montgomery and Alasdair Tutt had met the standard before the trip began
  • All athletes achieved international Personal Bests in relation to their FIS points
  • Xanthea Dewez qualified 8th, finished 11th in the U18 OPA Cup event in St Ulrich
  • Anna Trnka finished 21st in the OPA Cup U20 Pursuit in Oberwiesenthal
  • Xanthea Dewez, Anna Trnka and Casey Wright experienced finals racing in the sprint category at an OPA Cup level
  • Alasdair Tutt made top 30 and raced finals at the sprint in a German Cup
  • Nick Montgomery met the qualifing standard for 2014 U23 World Championships with 166 FIS points

Developmental highlights

  • 55 days on-snow which translated to 70-90 hours of skiing depending on the athlete
  • 10-12 race starts

Management highlights: pre-World Junior’s

  • No sickness
  • No injuries
  • Minimal travel – 4 days of major travel
  • Accommodation comfort
    • Walking distance to trails at both training locations
    • No more than 2 athletes per room at both training locations
    • No more than 2 athletes per bathroom in Klingenthal and Seefeld in December
  • Cost
    • The trip came in approx. $400 under budget
    • Total cost of the trip for eight weeks was approx. $6400 including airfares and insurance

Factors that led to success

The appointment of a separate Junior Coach and Manager which allowed:

  • Comprehensive monitoring of athletes training and recovery pre-trip. This leads to:
    • Athlete’s accountability for their training and recovery
      • Ensures a high level of fitness etc. when the trip begins
      • A line of communication from the national level to individual athletes and their coaches
        • Helps motivate athletes and coaches towards achieving high level results
        • Builds a relationship with athletes prior to having to spend 24/7 with them
        • The ability to set a program for athletes of at a similar level with similar goals without compromising  other athlete groups
          • Training, racing and travelling decision can be made based on junior success as opposed to trying to fit in with everyone (usually senior team athletes) leading to compromises in terms of training and preparation.

 A clear, inspirational and well communicated vision for the trip.

  • Vision communicated early and re-enforced leading into and during trip
  • A multi-paged age appropriately formatted document was handed out to athletes mid-Australian winter explaining what, where and why of the trip as well as athlete expectations.
  • Athletes and parents briefed on the trip early during the Australian winter

A definition of success that is well defined and communicated.

  • Outcome and process goals defined with athletes prior to trip
  • Process goals emphasised in pre-world junior competitions
  • The strength of the fields, realistic results expectations, historical context of results communicated prior and post-race

 Logistics

  • Low travel
  • Training bases chosen to lead to success at World Juniors: Klingenthal was close to Liberec with similar snow, climate, low altitude, etc.
  • Races chosen to lead to success at World Juniors (not to achieve low FIS points):
  • Lead in races were largely the same as World Junior races  – classic sprint, 5/10km skate
  • Pursuits were given same weighing as individual start events despite them being worse for points
  • Only the athletes that needed points to qualify were taken to race the prologue in the Black Forest which was a good opportunity for FIS points, the qualified athletes were given the opportunity to train for World Junior races the following week.
  • Accommodation chosen based on providing comfort and space for athletes
  • Close to the snow, no transport was required for training and thus individual plans were easier to carry out
  • No more than two people per room
  • This gave the athletes space and allowed them to relax and not get too annoyed at each other’s quirky
  • Klingenthal and Seefeld the first time had one bathroom for two athletes
  • Privacy and helped reduce the spread of potential illnessCoachinig
  • Individual training plans worked out through communication with athletes and their coaches pre-trip
  • Group training session when appropriate and individual and small group sessions when appropriate
  • Flexibility with training plans when appropriate due to fatigue, soreness etc.
  • Weekly individual athlete meeting based around training plans

Further Information

If you would like further information about the 2012/2013 Australian Junior Trip contact Nick Grimmer at grimmer.nick@yahoo.com or Allison Stoddart at Allison.c.stoddart@gmail.com. For more information on the Australian Team in general contact Finn Marsland at finn.marsland@gmail.com.

Appendix 1

2012/2013 Trip Overview

The trip began on the 3rd of December with a 10 day training block in Seefeld, Austria. The early snow in Seefeld was good thanks to some recent natural snowfall as well as from earlier snowmaking efforts.  Training was kept light during this period as athletes acclimated and got use to each other’s company. The training focus was technique, agility and speed as the athlete adjusted to being back on snow.

The first race weekend was at St Ulrich 1.5 hrs drive from Seefeld. The events were OPA cup and our athletes competed in the classic sprint and the 5/10km skate individual start. The races served to get the nerves and cobwebs out early as well as give those who had never raced in Europe their first experience. The highlights were Nick Montgomery achieving his best FIS points of 166 and Xanthea Dewez qualifying 8th and finishing 11th in the sprint.

The second training base for the group was in Klingenthal located in Eastern Germany on the Czech border around 3.5hrs from Liberec. We spent the best part of four weeks in this location staying in basic but comfortable accommodation close to the trails but out of town. Klingenthal was not the prettiest place in Europe nor the most exciting, the athletes spent their time training or in their rooms recovering, socialising, watching movies etc. The training was OK although again it was not the most exciting trail system in Europe. It served its purpose initially however the weather warmed and the snow melted to an extent that forced us to relocate back to Seefeld three and half weeks after arriving.

During the stay in Klingenthal there were two racing weekends. The first was a German Cup event in Oberweisenthal an hour’s drive away. The races consisted of classic sprint and a 5/10km freestyle event. The highlights were Anna Trnka meeting the qualifying standard for World Junior Championships and Alasdair Tutt making his first finals appearance in the sprint.

The second racing weekend was an OPA Cup event again in Oberweisenthal. For these races we were joined by a handful of senior team athletes. The races consisted of a classic sprint, a pursuit and an individual start skate. The highlights were Xanthea Dewez and Casey Wright meeting the qualification for the World Junior Championships whilst Anna Trnka and Nick Montgomery experience there first international pursuit styled event.

Returning to Seefeld the athletes spirits lifted as the snow and trail conditions were far superior to Klingenthal. This training location and block was not planned however proved great in putting the athletes in good physical and mental condition of World Junior Championships. During this time the two junior who had not qualified for World Juniors travelled with the coach and some of the senior athletes to the Black Forest to race in a 2.5km individual start FIS race. Here Jackson Bursill met the qualification for World Junior Championships.

It was a long drive to Liberec but it was handled well by the athletes. Accomodation and much of the transport at World Juniors was organised by the event organisers. For highlights from World Juniors see below and the beginning of this document.

 Appendix 2

World Junior Results Analysis

Athletes with the highest placing at World Juniors, bold are athletes from this year

Year Event Athlete Placing

1

2003

Sprint F Esther Bottomley

21

2

2003

30km F Ben Sim

25

3

2003

Sprint F Nick Grimmer

41

4

2013

Sprint Cl Xanthea Dewez

46

4

2009

10km F Alex Almoukov

46

6

2013

Sprint Cl Casey Wright

50

7

2003

30km F Danial van der Ploeg

53

7

2004

Sprint F Sally Cunningham

53

9

2013

Pursuit Anna Trnka

54

10

2009

Pursuit Georgia Merritt

60

 

The Top 20 placing’s by Australians at World Junior Championships

Year Event Athlete Placing Total in Field % of Field

1

2003

Sprint F Esther Bottomley

21

58

36.207

2

2003

30km F Ben Sim

25

60

41.667

3

2005

Sprint Cl Ben Sim

30

80

37.5

4

2004

10km F Ben Sim

35

88

39.773

5

2005

Pursuit Ben Sim

36

80

45

6

2003

Sprint F Nick Grimmer

41

74

55.405

7

2003

Sprint F Ben Sim

45

74

60.811

8

2004

Sprint F Ben Sim

45

83

54.217

9

2013

Sprint Cl Xanthea Dewez

46

68

67.647

10

2009

10km F Alex Almoukov

46

95

48.421

11

2003

10km CL Ben Sim

49

83

59.036

12

2013

Sprint Cl Casey Wright

50

68

73.529

13

2002

Sprint F Ben Sim

50

79

63.291

14

2003

30km F Dan van der Ploeg

53

60

88.333

15

2004

Sprint F Sally Cunningham

53

71

74.648

16

2005

10km F Ben Sim

53

92

57.609

17

2013

Pursuit Anna Trnka

54

71

76.056

18

2009

Pursuit Alex Almoukov

55

81

67.901

19

2013

Sprint Cl Anna Trnka

57

68

83.824

20

2013

Pursuit Xanthea Dewez

59

71

83.099

 

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