Cruising to Craftsbury

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

When “Sweet home Chicago” was written for the Blues Brothers, they clearly hadn’t flown much. Or if they had, they clearly had just decided to make Chicago home, due to always having to spend a night at the airport waiting to catch a flight out… Chicago O’Hare Airport and I have a true hate-hate relationship. I think I’ve only flown through once without my flight getting cancelled. Still, I love that song.

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Revelstoke Wrap Up  

AUSXC Junior Development Tour

Even though the team has safely made it home after many frustrating delayed/missed flights, I believe that it’s only fair to all of our readers that we share one last post before we close another chapter in our ski adventure storybook. The last instalment of our six-week adventure was spent in Revelstoke, a picturesque town mostly full of hardcore skier types keen to check out the amazing downhill skiing the resort has to offer. Commencing with another ski at the beautiful Lake Louise, our journey to Revelstoke had definitely been another experience to remember. Once again in awe of the beautiful Rocky Mountains that just never seem to disappoint, our faces were glued to windows as we travelled back to BC for our last few days of snow. Despite the temptation to throw on our downhill skis and join all of those checking out North America’s longest vertical descent, we…

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World University Winter Games Opening

Callum Watson

The expectations for this year’s Universiade were honestly very low. I came here to Strbske Pleso many years ago and it was more or less quite a run down facility from an era during the 70’s that would have looked like a promising affluent ski resort. It was all a bit sad really – I find it hard to see once great and promising places just being left to rot.

View of the stadium from our hotel View of the stadium from our hotel

Amazingly now however, lots has changed! With huge developments and refurbishments it has actually turned out to be an awesome venue for these championships. Unfortunately, the big jump has still not been touched and appears to only be used as a satellite tower – a little sad for those who worked towards creating such an amazing structure. Who knows, there may be plans to give it the maintenance it deserves.


The opening ceremony…

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Phil and Jess finish in 8th, gain Australia’s highest ever finish at a Winter Universiade

Day one of the World University Winter Games could not have started better for Australia with Phil Bellingham and Jessica Yeaton both finishing in 8th place in the skate sprint. This results surpasses Australia’s previous highest finish of 9th place by Esther Bottomley in Turkey 2011 and shows the form that both Phil and Jess are in as they head into the important part of the year.


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Let the 2015 Winter Universiade begin!

The 2015 World University Winter Games begin tonight with a skate sprint. The event will be held in Strbske Pleso which is in Slovakia. Australia will be represented by Phillip Bellingham, Callum Watson, Jessica Yeaton, Jackson Bursill and Anna Trnka.

“With three members of our World Cup Team this is one of the strongest teams that we have sent to the university games,” commented SSA XC High Performance Manager Finn Marsland. “All five athletes seem to be coming into form at the right time and it will be exciting to see how they can perform.” The best ever Australian cross country skiing result at the WUWG was 9th by Esther Bottomley in the Freestyle Sprint in 2011, and the best ever distance result was 18th by Chris Heberle in the 15km Freestyle in 1991. Continue reading

Training in Bozeman

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

Ok, so I’ll admit I’m writing this with less than ideal sleeping hours under my belt and probably one cup of coffee too many this early in the morning. So if this post seems a little shaky or I start rambling on I do apologise in advance!

Why didn’t I get enough hours of sleep? As an athlete shouldn’t I be totally onto this? We’ll you’re right and I did drop the ball a little, luckily today is an easier day of training for me and a nap is definitely in order later!

I’m still in Bozeman and at the moment I’m babysitting the family dog, a 13 year old husky with mild anxiety issues. Since I’m the only one at home, he decided to sleep in my room. If you don’t believe dogs snore, come hang out with me and Beans for a night! It’s like sleeping in the…

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Czeching out the Championships

Half an Adventure

The first thing I should do is apologise for the title of the blog, but I’m not going to. It’s time for this pun to have its time in the sun, even though the country in questions seems completely bereft of sunshine.

The following morning after arriving back from my last lot of races in Lackenhof (Lower Austria), I headed off with Aimee Watson to Nové Město na Moravě, which translates to ‘New Town in Moravia’, for one of the races of the Czech Republic National Championships. Moravia is basically the eastern third of Czech Republic, with the rest of the country being Bohemia (think Prague and most of the tourist spots) and Czech Silesia. We were both there to chase FIS points and qualify for World Championships in Sweden, hence the short period between races and the somewhat abrupt decision to travel 500km in either direction to do only a…

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Tour De Canmore

AUSXC Junior Development Tour

Waking up in Canmore is something not many can complain about. The surrounding mountains are a sight for sore eyes, not to mention easing pain that came with the thought of the three races ahead. That’s three days of grueling Western Canadian Champs (a small step down from Canadian Nationals). We had close to no idea of what the competition would be like and especially how our results would differ considering the difficulty of the World Cup courses. But fear we did not, four weeks of training and race preparation ensured the self confidence that we had what it takes.


Come Tuesday morning, the whole team were shocked to find out that Veronique’s bruised/sprained wrist from Saturday’s ice hockey game turned out to be a broken arm. Oops!

We were lucky enough to have a contact in the prestigious Canmore Nordic Ski Club, the one and only Allison McArdle, who…

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Esther Bottomley and the La Diagonela

The La Diagonela is a new classic ski marathon held in the beautiful Engadine Valley in Switzerland. This 65km event has been included as part of the Swix Ski Classic series and thus attracted a large field including all the pro-teams. Due to lack of snow the race was shortened to 42km.

Racers in the La Diagonela cross a bridge near Zouz. Pic taken from

Australian Esther Bottomley competed with for her Italian Pro-Team – Team Xcalibur Lillsport. She finished in 14th position in a time of 2:41.08 just behind two Norwegians and in front of a girl from the Czech Republic.


Esther Bottomley (15) of Team Xcalibur Lillsport skiing behind Sweden’s Nina Lintzen (5) from Team Ski ProAm

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AUSXC Junior Development Team – Canmore Report

The Australian Junior Development team arrived into Canmore last week after 4 weeks of training in Silver Star to race the Western Canadian Championships/ Nor-Am Races. These races saw the athletes take on many of the best athletes in Canada.

The team was fortunate to be able to work with the Canmore Nordic Ski Club, arguably the strongest club team in the nation. Resident coach and Australian National Coaching Director Allison McArdle helped set this up.


Australian Junior Team athletes Finlay Clarke and Stella Ajani

The weekend started on Thursday with a race starting and finishing on Lake Louise, which is one of the most picturesque places in all of Canada. The race saw Australia represented by NSW local Sarah Slattery. Sarah posted a strong result on a relatively flat 10km course, finishing in 17th, 8.25 behind world cup skier Emily Nishikawa.

Friday’s races saw the junior athletes race in the 5km classic interval start on arguably one of the toughest courses on the world cup circuit. This saw some impressive results posted by the athletes with Finlay Clarke finishing in 16th, only 1.16 behind national champion Ty Godfrey, Matthew Bull in 21st, Seve de Campo in 23rd and Max Lowman in 42nd. In the Girls race, Stella Ajani pulled out an impressive performance to be in 15th position, just under 2 minutes behind national champion Hannah Mehain, who is also one of the top skiers in the senior women category. Ella Jackson placed 20th, Kate Hesse placed 26th, Olivia Jeffrey placed 35th and Veronique Price placed 41st. Veronique’s result was especially impressive as she was racing with her arm in a cast due to a broken arm. Continue reading