Spring Series and the end of the racing season.

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

There is something very special about Spring Series, and the week of racing that it brings. No other time of the year feels the same.

The racing is really serious, yet so relaxed and mellow. It’s a time when athletes come together for one more week of punishment after months of racing and pushing our bodies to the edge.

So many athletes are done with the season, burnt out, had enough, yet everyone still comes from all over the country to race and enjoy one more week together. Some athletes even come out of retirement just to participate in races they are so fun.

Are the courses easier? Is the competition softer? Do we ski less? Nope. This week we were racing at over 2200meters on a course that had a 6 minute continuous climb in it. We raced a total of 71 km over four races and some of…

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German Champs 50km Classic: Race Report

Half an Adventure

They’re done, it’s all over! With one final race last weekend, I wrapped up my longest race season so far, with my longest race so far. Going into this race I was pretty nervous about even being able to finish, given how tough the distance is psychologically, and I rarely do training sessions with 50km of skiing, nor races over 15km. Fortunately the race was moved from its original location in Garmisch, where the Kaltenbrunn course is famous for being brutally tough, to Bodenmais, a resort town in the Bavarian Forest, up near the Czech border east of Munich.

The first consequence of moving the race was that it was no longer an internationally-sanctioned FIS race, which meant I wasn’t going to be allowed to start, for a whole host of bureaucratic reasons that only Germans could possibly understand. Fortunately, my coach made a few phone calls, and a guest…

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Back in the sunny States.

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

I flew straight back to Anchorage, Alaska after Europe and the plan was to recharge, refocus and as one of the Australian coaches said to me “head to my happy place”. Over the course of the two weeks that’s exactly what I did. The conditions in Anchorage were almost perfect for training. No there weren’t endless kilometres of skiing there but what they had was really good quality skiing with some of the best trails I’ve been able to ski all year. That’s all thanks to their ability to make snow exclusively for the cross country trails. But the best part was that there had been a lot of melt out, so if you didn’t fancy skiing finding dry running trails was simple and again spectacular. Everything seemed to set up nicely while I was there. The weather turned to perfect blue bird days but with cool enough temperatures that…

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Bellingham into 2015 Red Bull Nordix Finals

The 2015 Red Bull Nordix Final is on this Saturday March 21 in Salen in Sweden. Ovenight Australia’s sole entrant Philip Bellingham made it through the first qualification round and narrowly missed out on winning the best trick competition. The finals seeding round and finals take place tonight (Australian time) and can be viewed live over the internet.

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In 2013 Phil finished 14th in the Red Bull Nordix in Czech, on that occasion he won the best trick event with a back flip. In Sweden the compeition was tougher, with a number of skiers landing inverted jumps.

“I thought I was in with a good chance after I landed both a Lincoln (a sideways loop) and a back flip,” said Phil from Högfjället, where all the athletes are being hosted. “However another skier also pulled a Lincoln and they judged his style was better.” The winner was local Swede Johan Lilja – footage of his jump and others can be seen on the Red Bull Nordix site. Phil appears a couple of times in the general footage, including his succesful back flip.

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Playing with the Big Guns – Casey Wright

Re-posted from Casey & Kat’s blog (without some of the photo captions).
When I last wrote to you I was en route to Sweden to meet up with the Australian XC Ski team for a training camp in preparation for the 2015 World Championships. For 2 weeks we were based in Gronklitt, a small ski resort about 1.5hrs from Falun (the city where the World Championships would be held). My previous visits to Sweden during last northern winter were less than ideal. Due to a weather phenomenon referred to as the Polar Vortex, they experience an incredibly warm winter and very minimal snow fall. When I arrived in Sweden this year, it was anything but what I had experienced last time. The temperatures remained below 0 and there was plenty of fresh snow fall, allowing the environment to match my ideas of what Sweden should look like.

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The Best Ski Race in the World

Half an Adventure

Last weekend I once again drove into the Land of the Expensive (Switzerland) to compete in a slightly different race from what I’ve been doing the past three months. The Engadin Skimarathon is the third-largest cross-country citizen race in the world (I think), and the largest outside of Scandinavia. It’s held in the Engadine Valley, which contains famous ski towns such as St Moritz and Pontresina, which you would know from those posters that seem to come included with every ski apartment in Australia and America. The valley is perched up at 1800m, much higher than the vast majority of XC areas in the Alps, and thus has reliable snow and very cold nights, which keep the snow in good shape. The scenery is also stupendous; ever few minutes during skiing here you get a view which is breathtaking, although it might be the altitude which is taking your breath…

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World Champs/Lahti Recap

Jessica Yeaton

I apologize for slacking in the blog department- I traveled to Bozeman yesterday and realized it has been almost a month since my last update. I raced at World Championships in Falun and then at World Cups this past weekend in Lahti, Finland. The days have blurred together in my mind a bit- indistinguishable by their cloudy, gray, sleety, klistery nature. Yes, I’ll admit I was pretty jealous of my teammates down in Switzerland and Slovenia posting endless pictures of bluebird skies & scenic mountains- that extra blue perfection. But Scandinavia was amazing in so many other ways; the atmosphere in Falun was like nothing I have ever experienced before, something I will never forget. Take a country where Nordic Skiing is currently the #1 sport and add a World Championship event; I found that blue skies didn’t matter so much when I had 50,000 people out on course cheering…

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2015 Australian Rollerski Championship – April 11

The 2015 Australian Rollerski Championship will take place at the Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra on Saturday April 11. The morning will feature two events; a Freestyle Sprint and a Freestyle Criterium. Click on the link below for the event flier in PDF format. The event is supported by Snow Trek & Travel (formerly Snowgum Wodonga) – Australia’s #1 stop for rollerski equipment.

Entries will be taken from 9:00am on the day out at the Criterium Circuit at Stromlo Forest Park, with the first event set to start at 10:00am. Rollerskiers and Skikers of all abilities are welcome, from beginners through to National Team athletes. To assist with organisation, if you are planning to enter please email to finn.marsland@gmail.com. Some participants may also be interested in the SSA XC Media & Communications Workshop, on the following day April 12 at the Australian Institute of Sport. Continue reading

XC Media & Communications Skills Workshop

AUSXC Media & Communications Skills Workshop – Canberra – Sunday April 12

Female cross country ski athletes, coaches, officials, administrators & supporting mums…We need your help to ‘talk up’ XC skiing…raise our media profile and get more people & sponsors on skinny skis!

Come along to The Media & Communications Skills Workshop, organised by the Ski & Snowboard Australia Cross Country Committee and funded by the Australian Sports Commission’s Women Leaders in Sport Program.

Sports Media Communications specialist Alice Wheeler is the guest speaker and other presenters include James Bennett (ABC Reporter) & Michelle Armstrong (Communications Consultant).  Specifically tailored to meet the needs of the XC Ski community, this dynamic and interactive Workshop will give participants the skills and confidence to maximise media opportunities, deliver media interviews and help build the XC skiing brand as a ‘healthy sport for life with multiple pathways for athletes, coaches, officials and recreational skiers’. Continue reading

Falun 2015 – 30km & 50km Mass Starts

Falun 2015 Race Reports # 8 and #9 – Women 30km and Men 50km Mass Start Classic

Originally three Australians were entered for the 30km Classic but only Casey Wright made it to the start line. Jessica Yeaton decided to opt to rest for the upcoming World Cups in Lahti, then just when it seemed the gastro days were over Aimee Watson became the latest athlete to succumb. Casey made an incredible effort to finish her first 30km in tough conditions in 47th place out of 49 starters. The unstoppable winner Therese Johaug from Norway skied away from the front of the pack after just 7km, winning in the end by 52 seconds after leading at one point by 1:15.

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The final day of competition in Falun and Callum Watson was the sole Australian starter in the 50km Classic after Paul Kovacs also had some stomach problems. Unfortunately Callum’s incredible story back from a punctured lung last August didn’t finish with a fairy tale ending. After struggling with stomach cramps in the first lap he withdrew early in the second lap. This was the end of Callum’s racing season now and he’ll return to Australia in the coming week. It was very tough 50km in soft and slow conditions, won in the end by Petter Northug from Norway with an amazing final 500m (even worth looking back for the 500m before that).

That’s it now for the post-Falun wrap-up. Apologies again for the delay – packing up, travel and sleep got in the way. Many of the athletes from Falun are now already back in Australia, but three remain in Europe. Phillip Bellingham and Jessica Yeaton arrived in Finland last night for the Lahti World Cup this weekend, while Esther Bottomley is set to race the Vasaloppet on Sunday.