2014 Australian Race Calendar

The Ski & Snowboard Australia Cross Country Committee (SAXC) has just released the 2014 Australian Race Calendar. There are several key changes for this year, which have been brought about through a calendar review and feedback from athletes, clubs, states and race organisers. SAXC would like to thank everyone who has been involved.

Readers should note that the calendar is still being given a final proof check, however most details and the dates and locations of all major events are set. Any changes to the calendar will be posted on AUSXC and can be accessed via the calendar tab above.

The overall purpose of the calendar re-structure is to support SAXC’s long-term athlete development principles. To develop world class skiers it is vital for Australia to have a vibrant domestic racing circuit, with strong competition at all levels of the athlete pathway from entry level through to Masters. It is big challenge to juggle the location and timing of club and championship events; providing rungs for our developing athletes to climb, ranges of events for all abilities and also opportunities for our elite athletes to train and focus on the main competition season overseas at the end of the year. Not every athlete aspires to compete for Australia at the World Junior Championship or the Winter Olympics, but if they do the pathway should be there. Rationale for the major calendar changes are provided below.

After 11 years combined with Open events the Australian Junior Championship has been reintroduced as a stand-alone race weekend. These will be the only national junior championship events (though there will still be U20 categories in the Open events), and for 2014 will be held on the last weekend of July at Perisher. The main rationale for the change is to have one weekend of national championship racing focussing solely on junior competition. Sprint finals will see all the top juniors racing head to head, rather than against the senior athletes. In addition, courses and lap distances can be designed for juniors, and up-and-coming coaches still racing can provide support to their athletes without the pressures of competing themselves. There will still be opportunities for the top junior racers to take on Australia’s World Cup Team and elite internationals, in the FIS races scheduled in August. The Australian Junior Championships will alternate between NSW and Victoria each year. While SAXC also considered the merits of placing this stand-alone event as a season finale after the Kangaroo Hoppet, the main reasons for choosing the end of July for the next two years were to take advantage of likely better snow conditions and to avoid clashes with Interschools competition dates which were already set for the next two years.

Two weekends of Australian Open Championship have been fixed in NSW and Victoria relative to the Kangaroo Hoppet. Together these five events (four FIS races and the Hoppet) make up the Australian component of the FIS Australia-New Zealand Continental Cup (ANC) series. The first weekend of these races will be held at the start of NSW Race Week at Perisher, which in 2014 takes place from August 2-10. These FIS races on August 2/3 lead straight into the Boonoona Open, the first Race Week club race, and ensure that Australia’s best athletes are integrally involved in this 9-day long cross country skiing festival. SAXC looks forward to working with Perisher Cross Country (PXC) in promoting this great centrepiece of the NSW ski season.

It should be noted that the 15/30km championship event, which has been embedded in the Snowy Mountains Classic in recent years, will not be held. Participation in the 15/30 has been declining, and it has not attracted Australia’s best athletes. The Snowy Mountains Classic still continues on as the final race of NSW race week, and Australia’s best long distance skiers have the chance to compete against each other at the Kangaroo Hoppet.

The second weekend of the FIS ANC will take place at Falls Creek on August 16/17, the weekend before the Kangaroo Hoppet. In recent years Falls Creek has hosted elite international athletes including Alexander Legkov from Russia, the 50km gold medallist from Sochi earlier this year. While such an elite field cannot be guaranteed every year, the timing of the FIS races at Falls Creek is intended to attract any elite internationals out training for the Hoppet, and also reduces interstate travel for most of our own World Cup athletes. It also opens the door for annual mid-week events to be scheduled between the FIS races and the Hoppet.

Athletes considering trying out for selection to the Australian Team should note that National Team selection policies are still under review and will be announced over the coming month. Most likely selection will be based on FIS results and championship events on the race calendar, as in previous years, However, the standards and combinations of required results are still be finalised.

While this new calendar format will be reviewed after the winter, SAXC’s intention is for the same format to be kept for 2015. Over the next two years SAXC welcomes calendar feedback from all members of the Australian cross country skiing community. It is very difficult to develop a one-size-fits-all race schedule, and inevitably compromises have to be made. Over time small changes in development philosophy may mean event formats and race schedules on the calendar will be tweaked. For now, SAXC believes they have found a good solution consistent with the current athlete development model and national team aims.

One Response

  1. […] announced by the SSA Cross Country Committee (SAXC) earlier this year, the 2014 Australian Junior Championship for Cross Country Skiing will be held at Perisher on July […]

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