Falun 2015 World Championship Team

On February 18 the 2015 World Championship begins in Falun, Sweden. The Australian Team has been confirmed as six women and five men, equalling the largest ever number of Australian cross country skiers at this level of competition. At the age of 32 Esther Bottomley is the oldest member of the team, competing at her 6th World Championship. Five athletes are making their World Championship debut, including the youngest 19-year-old Xanthea Dewez who competed at the World Junior Championship two weeks ago.

 

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The first races are the women’s 5km and 10km qualification races. Athletes without one race under 120 FIS points (women) or 90 FIS points (men) need to finish in the top 10 in order to qualify for all championship distance races. Australia has two women (Anna Trnka and Casey Wright) and two men (Jackson Bursill and Mark Pollock) vying to make it through from a field of forty-five women and sixty-nine men. Continue reading

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Ostersund World Cup

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

There is light rain falling as I look out the window of my room. Back home we call mizzle it’s not mist and it’s not drizzle. In some ways it’s hardly noticeable but you get wet from it fairly quickly. It’s trying to snow but not quite. It’s a standard grey day here in Falun Sweden. The entire World Championship team is now together and living in our allotted athlete accommodation for the Championships. This year our team is huge, 11 athletes and 8 support staff. This is the largest overall group we have ever sent to a Championship event! It’s pretty exciting to be part of such a huge group. There is a lot of excitement and a few nerves floating about the team. We have four athletes competing in the 10km qualifying race on Wednesday. I’m lucky enough to be prequalified and able to skip that race. I think…

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WORLD CUP OSTERSUND

Australia returned to the World Cup circuit yesterday with six Australians lining up to start the classic sprint in Ostersund, Sweden. Jessica Yeaton and Xanthea Dewez made their World Cup debut joining Esther Bottomley, Phil Bellingham, Jackson Bursill and Paul Kovacs.

Looking from the grand stand towards the start line of the World Cup Sprint in Ostersund, Sweden

The race was spectacular with short ups, technical downs and a huge crowd. In the words of Xanthea Dewez: “The atmosphere before the start was pretty awesome! The stadium was also very cool.. When the first people or the Swedish were starting the crowd was so loud! And they went up those hills so quickly, it was amazing to watch. I have never seen anyone herringbone so fast up a hill!”  The racing was tight with many athletes falling on the fast corner or tripping as fought for position on the final climb. Marit Bjoergen from Norway won her 90th World Cup and Finn Haagen Krogh also from Norway won the male event.

The highest finishing Australians were Esther Bottomley who finished in 58th out of 64, 12% behind the winner and Phil Bellingham who finished in 79th out of 84, 10% behind the winner. For almost all the Australians the snow texture did not suit their racing style. Really sugary snow meant it was hard to put a lot of power down or stay in the tracks in on the ups. Nonetheless all the Australians will be happy to have had the experience and the hit out before World Championships starts on Wednesday.  Continue reading

They just went Full Kazakh! (U23 champs race report)

Half an Adventure

My last post had quite a bit of background about Kazakhstan and what it’s like; this one will be more of a race report for the World U23 Championships. I did these same races last year in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and was bitterly disappointed with my races last year, so I was keen to lift my performance.

Classic Sprint

The champs kicked off with a 1.3km classic sprint, which is normally my least favourite type of race. Despite this, I managed to ski a controlled, if not particularly fast, time trial, which brought me from my start rank of 52 up to place 49. The course was basically a series of switchback bends down through a quarry, then a long and fairly steep uphill which brought you back to the stadium. Add to this a few stones in the track (it was a quarry after all) and a bit of…

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Gronklitt Training Camp

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

So for the last week and a half I have been living in the “mountain” resort of Gronklitt in Sweden. I say mountain because I think we are only at 550m but it seems like they sell this area as a little Alps ski resort in Sweden. In honesty it’s actually flat here. Most of the trails are all around lakes and very few have any hills. That being said the training week has gone as well as I could have hoped for. I feel like the final preparations before heading to the World Cup in Ostersund and the World Championships in Falun have been really successful. We had great snow and trails here and I had a lot of good sessions. Tomorrow the World Cup team will drive up to Ostersund to race a classic sprint and a skate distance race. I hear that there is minimal snow and the only…

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2015 World Junior Championship – Final Race Report

2015 World Junior / U23 Championship, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Competition Days 3 & 4 – U23 10/15km Freestyle & Junior Skiathlons

Two more days of racing in Almaty down and now the Australian Team’s campaign is over. Yesterday Nick Montgomery and Mark Pollock finished 53rd and 56th in the U23 15km Freestyle, 17.5% and 29.9% behind the winner Florian Notz from Germany. Today Kat Paul was 55th in the Junior 10km Skiathlon, 24.9% behind Sofie Nordsveen Hustad from Norway. In the events uncontested by Australians Barbro Kvaale from Norway won the women’s U23 10km Freestyle, and Russia took out the trifecta in the Junior men’s 20km Skiathlon.

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Kat Paul at around the 7km mark in the Skiathlon

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World Junior 5/10km Freestyle Report

2015 World Junior / U23 Championship, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Competition Day Two – Junior 5/10km Freestyle

Today the Junior women’s 5km and men’s 10km Freestyle events were held. Conditions were fast, with the 5km won by Victoria Carl from Germany in 13:26 and the 10km won by Russian Alexey Chervotkin in 23:36. The Australians gave it their all, Xanthea Dewez finishing 54th, just over 2 minutes behind the winner, and Kat Paul 60th, a further 50 seconds back. For old-school followers of international results this corresponds to 15.8% and 22.1% behind the winner.

Weather on the second day of competition in Almaty was the best since the team arrived; half the team picked up a little sun-burn, and smog from the city below stayed low. The track stayed firm and fast (as evident from the winning times) and it was a great day for spectating.

 

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