Team named for 2017 World Junior/U23 Championship


Australian Junior/U23 Team training in Sun Valley

Junior Cross Country athletes ready to take on world’s best

Having enjoyed world-class preparation, a team of nine young Australian cross country stars are ready and raring to compete at the 2017 Junior & U23 World Championships in Soldier Hollow, USA.

The team has been based in Sun Valley, Idaho training with one of the best cross country programs in North America – the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF).

“We have been able to train at the same altitude and similar snow conditions to Soldier Hollow with some of the best young North American skiers,” Head Coach Robert Jones said. Three athletes from SVSEF will represent the USA at the championships.

“We also hit the jackpot in regards to preparation as the US Nationals were held at the Soldier Hollow course on the exact same tracks that we will race for the WJC/ U23’s. It was a good experience for our athletes as we could learn the conditions and get used to such a strong field. I would say this is the best preparation a junior team could have really!”

Casey Wright and Katerina Paul are set to make their U23 World Championship debut, having both previously represented Australia at the Junior World Championships.

“World Championships are coming around so quickly,” 20-year-old Paul said.

“I believe I have been set up for the season in the best possible way. I have had a good training base with easier “no pressure races” to warm up into before all my bigger races begin in the later part of the season.

“My overall goals would be to be in the best form possible for my bigger races. I hope I have given myself a good opportunity to do so.”

Making their Junior World Championships debut but no strangers to the world stage are Lilly Boland and Liam Burton. The young duo represented Australia at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, where they both achieved ground-breaking top 30 results.

“Leading into the Junior World Championships, I believe the experience of big stage skiing allows me to be comfortable in important races and knowledgeable of the task ahead, as well as how to approach it,” Burton said.

“After experiencing the level of my competitors and understanding what it takes to ensure a good result for myself and the country, I will be excited to stand on the start line in just over a week’s time for the World Junior Champs.”

The pair will be in good company, joined by 19-year-old Ella Jackson who competed at the 2016 Junior World Championship as well as four other young rising stars in the sport.

With four young men on the team, Australia will enter a junior men’s relay team for the first time since 1995.

“Cross country skiing in Australia is a small sport so we all become close friends through many hours of training and travelling together,” Boland said.

“Having a large team overseas is great in the sense that we motivate and support each other during events such as World Juniors which can be challenging both mentally and physically at times. Training with a larger team also gives me additional motivation during hard sessions so I can match teammates pace and technique.”

For Head Coach Robert Jones, the upcoming Championships in Soldier Hollow are about building for the future as much as they are about achieving immediate results.

“These events give us a chance to see where the level is and what we need to work on to get there,” Jones said.

“We have great training conditions at the National Training Centre at Falls Creek during the Australian winter, and strong domestic races, but it is hard to see how the athletes are going on a world scale.

“Although at this stage we aren’t looking to make podiums in these championships, all our athletes are still progressing and developing in the sport so one day down the track we can have athletes in the top 10’s on World Cup and Olympics. Simply being at these events is a good development process for our athletes as they can see how the best in the world prepare.”

The Championships will take place at Soldier Hollow, USA from 30 January – 5 February 2017.

The Australian Team for the 2017 Junior & U23 World Championships

U23 Athletes: Casey Wright, Katerina Paul,

Junior Athletes: Lilly Boland, Ella Jackson, Gabrielle Hawkins, Liam Burton,  Seve de Campo, Matthew Bull, Jarrah Forrer

Head Coach: Robert Jones

Assistant Coach/Manager: Georgia Merritt

Technicians: Bryan Cook (USA), Tom Smith (USA)

Event Schedule:

  • January 30 – Junior Classic Sprint
  • January 31 – U23 Classic Sprint
  • February 1 – Junior 5/10km Freestyle
  • February 2 – U23 10/15km Freestyle
  • February 3 – Junior 10/20km Skiathlon
  • February 4 – U23 15/30km Skiathlon
  • February 5 – Junior Relays

Follow the Australian Team @ausxc via social media.

A link to comprehensive updates about Paul Kovacs

Well my first trip down south to race is over. I flew back home to Alaska for a few days and then yesterday I packed my bags and this morning I boarded a plane heading for Europe. I fly to Stockholm and then up to Falun by train to race World Cups.

via Dancing between the storms — Paul Kovacs. Elite Cross-Country Skier

Catch-Up Report: Phil Bellingham

Phil Bellingham has been Australia’s most prominent World Cup racer so far this season competing in two World Cups and in two stages of the Tour de Ski. His highest finishes were 51st in Davos and 54th in Toblach.

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Photo taken from Phil’s Facebook.

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Callum Watson on Career Best Form

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Photo from Callum’s athlete Facebook page click on the below link for more pictures and updates from Callum.

Callum’s season began with his first ever sub 50 FIS point race in Goms Switzerland. To put this in context these are the lowest FIS points achieved by an Australian athlete in a distance race since Ben Sim in 2010. Since 2010 only Phil Bellingham and now Callum have achieved a sub 50 FIS point result. The event was a Middle European Continental Cup (OPA) Mass start skate. Callum was able to stick with the leading pack for much of the 15km on what is known as one of the toughest race courses in Switzerland. Within this pack of skiers were many World Cup athletes including World Cup medalist Maicol Rastelli and Fabio Pasini both of Italy.

“Skiing with these boys right up until the final kilometer and finishing 15th was one of the most exciting races of my life!” Callum commented, “It made me remember why I like ski racing and has given me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”

The end results was 15th out of 72 with 47.19 FIS points.

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Catch-Up Report – Barbara Jezersek

In Barbara’s first year racing as an Australian she has so far achieved Australia’s highest ever female placing on distance World Cup and became the first Australian female to start the Tour de Ski.

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Catch Up Report – Mark Pollock

After winning two Australian Championships during the Australian season Mark was aiming high as he entered the European racing circuit. His season began well with Mark racing his first World Cup in Davos. “Racing in a World Cup was an incredible experience.” Mark reported after completing the race. “To be racing against the world’s best was amazing.”Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and nature

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Catch-Up Reports

The following series of updates are designed to catch the Australian audience up with the achievements of the Australian Team members who are currently competing in North America and Europe.

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New in the Wings in 2017

Hello Ski-friends!

Regular visitors to will have noticed (and a number have contacted us) about the absence of news on the site over the past two months, indeed the minimal amount of updates since the Australian winter. Please be reassured that this isn’t the beginning of the end of, rather that our focus has been on preparation for a new chapter.

Throughout 2016 a huge amount of predominantly volunteer effort has gone into the design and content generation of a new online home for Australian cross country ski racing. The new site will continue to feature Australian winter news and to chronicle the performances and activities of Australian athletes throughout the year, but will also play a greater role in the development of the sport. The intention is for more information to be readily available in areas such as athlete pathways, coach education, volunteer opportunities, sport administration, race rules and selection policies, and in general to provide advice on how to become more involved in XC ski racing. At the same time our partner site will focus on the grassroots development for recreational and introductory aspects of the sport.

During this interim period, the best way to keep up to date with the progress of the Australian Team racing overseas is via social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the main ones to follow, @ausxc is our handle across all platforms. Individual athletes from the team have also for the most part shifted their activity updates to their social media accounts (though PK’s blog is still going strong!).

A quick plug before a proper post goes up – save the date of Saturday April 8 for the 2017 Australian Rollerski Championship and AUSXC Awards Dinner in Canberra!

Thanks for your patience, and all the best wishes for 2017.

– The Team