Crashing into walls at the Dolomitenlauf

Half an Adventure

As my European season draws to an early close, I once again headed off to a race weekend, this time to Lienz in Austria, to race the 42km Dolomitenlauf and the 700m Dolomitensprint. Both of them involved impact with barriers on the side of the course…

The Dolomitenlauf is a founding member the Worldloppet series, the same one that the Kangaroo Hoppet belongs to, and was first held in 1971. The original course is a 60km loop in the valley below the town of Lienz (650m elevation), the biggest city in Osttirol, but for most of the past decade it has been held in nearby Obertilliach (1400m elevation) as a pretty clear consequence of a changing climate. Just like in the Jizerská 50 two weeks previously, I was the Kangaroo Hoppet representative in the Worldloppet delegation, which entails exceptionally good treatment and getting to meet interesting people from around the…

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Seeking New Australian Head Coach

The Ski & Snowboard Australia Cross Country Committee (SSA XC) is seeking expressions of interest for a Head Coach with the Cross Country Skiing High Performance Program. The intention is for this to be a full-time year-round position.

The Head Coach will primarily be responsible for coaching and leading athletes on the Australian National Team. This includes at major international events, during international tours, on-snow during the Australian winter, and during dryland training periods between winters. Coaching of athletes includes overseeing year-round physical, technical and psychological development.

A significant part of the Head Coach role will also include working with SSA XC and state sporting bodies to develop cross country skiing in Australia, including providing direction to underpinning programs, promoting the sport domestically, and supporting athlete/coach development pathways.

The key roles of the position and desired skills and qualifications are provided in this linked PDF:

Remuneration will be dependent on the experience of the successful applicant and whether the position ends up being full-time year round. All travel and living expenses will be covered during training camps and on international tours, as well as other negotiated expenses.

For additional details or any questions contact SSA Cross Country Skiing High Performance Manager Finn Marsland on finn.marsland@gmail.com or +61 408147940. Interested persons should apply via email to jobs@skiandsnowboard.org.au by Friday March 18, 2016, briefly addressing the key selection criteria. Applicants may be invited to supply additional information and/or to attend an interview. The appointment will be made by a panel appointed by SSA XC.

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Valdez

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

Alaska has so many wonderful places to visit and unique environments to be a part of, and all of it seems to come through skiing or some form of great activity. Last weekend I was fortunate enough to visit Valdez (pronounced Val-deez), a little coastal town which sits on a bay called the Prince William Sound surrounded by the Chugach Mountains. The Sound is an amazing body of water made up of tiny islands and fjords, and the Chugach are simply huge, so it creates breathtaking scenery. Sadly Valdez was also the location of one of the worst oil spills ever seen in 1989, but thankfully it seems back to its splendid vistas.

IMG_8179 Road tripping down to Valdez.

IMG_8036 Great views on the drive

IMG_8037 An amazing winter landscape as we drove deeper into Alaska.

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2016 AUS Rollerski Champs & AUSXC Awards Dinner

The 2016 Australian Rollerski Championships will be held on Saturday April 9 at the Stromlo Forest  Park in Canberra. This year there is also a new social event on the schedule – the inaugural AUSXC Awards Dinner!

This will be the fourth year of Australian Rollerski Championships since they were reintroduced after an extended hiatus. The same two events as in 2015 will be contested again out at Stromlo – a  Freestyle Sprint and a Freestyle Criterium. The reigning champions for both events are Damon Morton of Australian Biathlon fame and Slovenian Winter Olympian Barbara Jezersek. Rollerski demo equipment and races prizes are on offer from event sponsor Snow Trek & Travel. See event flier for more details.

Traditionally the Cross Country Skier of the Year and Junior Cross Country Skier of the Year are awarded at the Ski & Snowboard Australia Awards night in Melbourne, at the same time that they are nominated in the overall Athlete and Junior Athlete of the Year categories. This year all the cross country skiing nominations for the SSA Awards will be announced at the AUSXC Awards, together with other categories that are still being finalised.

The AUSXC Awards Dinner will be held at The Clubhouse at Lakeview Gardens in Jerrabomberra. The evening will also feature images and footage from Australian Team athletes recently returned from overseas and from the 2015 Australian winter. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for kids, available via Trybooking.com up until Monday April 4. All skiing enthusiasts are welcome, not just those involved in the rollerski races. Continue reading

Racing on home turf

Half an Adventure

One of the main differences in racing in Australia is the ‘home-course’ advantage, where we race every year on the same race courses, learning how to approach particular parts of the course both mentally and physically. For most of us when we come overseas, the season is a series of unknown or vaguely familiar racecourses, with all their attendant stresses and uncertainties. Some of us have courses we know pretty well, but it doesn’t quite come close to racing at ‘home’.

Lucky enough to call this home, and to have this view to wake up to! Lucky enough to call this home, and to have this view to wake up to!

This weekend, I got to do one of those races. The German Cup was rescheduled from nearby Isny in Allgäu to Balderschwang, known as the ‘German Siberia’ due to its extremely high snowfall amounts, for its 1050m altitude. This also means that in lean seasons, like this one until about 2 weeks ago, it…

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Welcome to Austria

The Jizzy Fiddy

Half an Adventure

Relax, it isn’t the name of my debut rap album, although if I had one I would definitely call it that. It describes rather the Jizerská padesátka (the second word means 50) held in the Jizera (pronounced yizaira) mountains. It is normally a 50km classic race, held on a large loop near the town of Bedrichov, in the far north of Czech Republic. Unfortunately, because until about today winter has been almost non-existent in middle Europe, the race had to be held on a 3.4km loop on artificial snow. The race is also part of the Visma Ski Classics series (see my La Sgambeda post), so attracts the best double pole distance skiers in the world. Because of this series the elite category was turned into a 15 lap race (51km) while the tourist/public category was shortened to four laps, and multiple races of 400 people each were held…

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Houghton Part 2

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

It’s quite amazing what can happen in a few days, a few hours or just a few kilometres. Since my last post a few days ago, we have had quite crazy weather with snow, rain and sunshine all thrown together. For a lot of the teams, this has been a nightmare for them. During these Championships, a few of the major teams with huge budgets really missed the wax and during the races their athletes have suffered for it. On the other hand, (bar my bad judgment call in the first race), Pete and Cody our two wax-tech geniuses have been killing it! It certainly helps when there are just four athletes and all boys, which means each race they can really narrow in and focus on just one race. It certainly helps! A big thanks to them both for doing such a great job!

Cody and Pete hard at work or in Cody's case pretending to be hard at work. Cody and Pete hard at…

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NSWXC Seeking 2016 Winter Coach

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NSW Cross Country is seeking expressions of interest from coaches to work with the NSW Junior Team and Athlete Development Program during the 2016 Southern Hemisphere winter, with the primary role being coaching athletes and coordinating the program.

The program will be of approximately twelve weeks duration and will be based predominately in Jindabyne/Perisher, NSW, with travel to the Victorian resort of Falls Creek for races and training events. There may be a requirement to travel to Sydney for dryland training. Additional information is provided in the job description linked below.

Interested persons should apply via email to NSW Cross Country Skiing Chair: (nswxc@nswsnowsports.com.au) by 12th Feb 2016, briefly addressing the key selection criteria. Please provide 2 references, with the contact details of the referees.

Applicants may be invited to supply additional information and/or to attend an interview. The appointment will be made by a panel appointed by NSWXC.

Position Title:  2016 NSW Development Program Manager/ On-Snow Coach.
Due Date:  By 1700 hrs, AEST, Friday 12th Feb 2016
Contract Period: 23rd June 2016 to 10th September 2016.

Houghton Part 1

Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

My time to date at US Nationals could not be more different to last years in so many ways. The weather for a start is a welcome change. Last year we had -18C and a blizzard for two weeks straight, with no reprieve from a near constant whiteout. So far we have had a lot of sunny days mixed with a few cloudy days but temperatures seem to hover around -5C, balmy compared to last year.

Flying into Minneapolis. Flying into Minneapolis.

We had to wait for Pete at the airport for a few hours so we busted out the cards for a few games. We had to wait for Pete at the airport for a few hours so we busted out the cards for a few games.

We definitely had some Challenges packing the two cars... And yes thats my bag being difficult! We definitely had some challenges packing the two cars… And yes thats my bag being difficult!

I’m travelling with a very small crew of athletes and coaches, just 6 of us in total so a very small and tight group compared to the 24 or so people last…

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