AUSXC Season Preview 2014/2015

This weekend Australian Team athletes Phillip Bellingham and Callum Watson will race in the Swedish season opener in Bruksvallarna. On the men’s side alone there are nearly 200 athletes on the start list for the Friday / Saturday / Sunday competitions, many of whom are vying for World Cup starts for their respective nations. With the action about to begin here is a quick preview of the season ahead.

There are three major international championship events this season – the 2015 World Championship, the 2015 World Junior/U23 Championship and the 2015 World Universiade Winter Games. Australia will field sizable teams at each of these events. As per recent years the general competitive goal for all international events is to have athletes breaking into the top 30, though for some athletes qualifying for the event and representing their country will already be a goal achieved.

On the World Cup circuit the Australian Team is taking a targeted approach this season, in general starting athletes at four main events: Lillehammer (NOR), Davos (SUI), Ostersund (SWE) and Lahti (FIN). In addition if athletes achieve additional performance standards they are eligible to start in other races on the circuit including the Tour de Ski. In Lillehammer only Bellingham and Callum Watson will start, pending a performance evaluation for Watson who is returning from a major injury. In Davos Bellingham and Watson will be joined by Esther Bottomley, who will be based in Davos from late November, and Jackson Bursill who will make his World Cup debut in the sprint. Athletes for the other WC events will be selected later in the season.

Five Australian athletes – team athletes Jessica Yeaton, Paul Kovacs, Casey Wright and Kat Paul, plus Mark Pollock who needs one more result to qualify – will begin their season racing in North America on the US SuperTour before coming to Europe for the major events later in the season. Other athletes such as Nick Montgomery, Aimee Watson and Anna Trnka will start their seasons on OPA Cup in central Europe. In general athletes will come together for pre-camps 1-2 weeks before each of the championship events.

The 2015 World Championship in Falun is set to be the highlight of the season, with crowds of up to 100,000 expected similar to Oslo 2013. With six women already selected to the team Australia is set to enter a women’s relay team for the first time since Falun 1993, following on from our first junior women’s relay team in 2013. Falun is also the home base this season for Callum Watson and Phillip Bellingham, who are training there with the Dalarna Sport Academy and coach Mattias Nilsson (who is also part of the support team for the WSC!).

Progress through the season can be followed via the http://www.ausxc.com website and via @ausxc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Donations to the team can be made via the XC Towards 2018 campaign..

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