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Autumn News 2005
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April 7 - Murray 4th Overall in Swedish Cup
Daniel van der Ploeg Updates
June 6 - Finally An Update!

June 8 - Sim On Contract With Fischer
June 16 - Athlete Information 2005

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Autumn 2005 Updates


June 16 - Athlete Information 2005

A new section has just been added to the site to help athletes with information about Race Licences, Team Selection, and Anti-Doping. These links will be added to all the news section pages on the right hand side. Please note that some qualification standards for selection (particularly for international competitions) and some issues regarding race licences will be confirmed after the SAXC meeting on June 26.

If any races wish to have their websites listed on the 2005 Calendar page or to make entry forms available on-line, please contact Finn Marsland on marslandf @compuserve.com.


June 8 - Sim On Contract With Fischer

Ben Sim has become the first Australian skier to have a World Cup contract with a ski manufacturer. Sim signed a contract through to the end of 2007 with Fischer World Cup racing director Hallgeir Lundemo just after the World Junior Championships in Finland in March. The deal involves 4 to 8 pairs of skis per season, which can be tested and swapped if necessary. Fischer boots are also provided, including the new duathlon boot.

Over two months later Sim is still excited about the contract. "I still canít believe that I even got it," he said from Cooma, where he is working as a cleaner to pay off last year's competition expenses in Europe. "As everyone knows it will save me a huge amount of money and mean that I'll be able to choose between not one pair of skis but three for the right condition. It gives me heaps of motivation for the coming Olympic season."

Australian Winter Olympian Anthony Evans skied on Fischer his entire international career, however never had a contract. "Fischer looked after me with skis while I was racing, but it was an informal arrangement," said Evans. "This is a significant step for Australian skiing, alongside Paul Murray's World Cup points last season, and shows that we are starting to be recognised in the skiing world."

Other current Australian team members have varying arrangements of support from ski manufacturers, including Paul Murray and KT Calder with Fischer, Ben Derrick with Peltonen, and Esther Bottomley and Clare-Louise Brumley with Atomic. Some of these arrangements involve free skis occasionally, however most of these athletes have to buy skis at World Cup prices.


June 6 - Finally An Update!

Australia New Zealand Cup
For the first time ever the FIS Australia New Zealand Cup is going to be living up to its name. This season the Snow Farm in New Zealand has come on board to run two Continental Cup events in August. A total of 6 events will be held, including 2 sprints and concluding with the Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek. Here is the event schedule:

DATE	   LOCATION              MEN	   WOMEN
August 6   Perisher Valley, AUS   Sprint F  Sprint F
August 13  Snow Farm, NZ          15km C    10km C
August 14  Snow Farm, NZ          Sprint F  Sprint F
August 20  Perisher Valley, AUS   10 km F   5 km F
August 21  Perisher Valley, AUS   10 km C   5 km C
August 27  Falls Creek, AUS       42km F    42km F 

It is hoped that the Snow Farm events will attract competitors from the USA and Canadian teams, who have been training in New Zealand the past few winters. Organisers are also planning to stage a 100m World Record attempt just prior to the Snow Farm events, which could potentially bring a show-down between former record holders Paul Murray from Australia and Andrew Newell from the USA.

International competitors contemplating travelling to the southern hemisphere this year can get more information on the Australia New Zealand Cup from Finn Marsland on marslandf @ compuserve.com.

FIS News
FIS cross country committee meetings were held in Amsterdam at the start of April. Here is a brief summary of some of the decisions made at the World Cup level:

2005/2006 World Cup Schedule. There were some minor changes to the World Cup schedule. The season kicks off again in Dusseldorf in Germany in October, and finishes in Sapporo in March. Of most interest for Australian skiers are the World Cups up until January 24, which count for selection to the Winter Olympics in Torino. The full calendar is available on the FIS Site, with a PDF version also available to download.

World Cup Quotas. The general World Cup quotas for each nation were reduced - the maximum number per nation is now 6 athletes, with a sliding scale down to 2 athletes for all nations who do not make the World Ranking List (score WC points). The only exception is for nations with more than 6 skiers qualified for the red group; in this case a maximum of 8 athletes is allowed. Thanks to Paul Murray's World Cup points in Reit im Winkl Australia can now start 3 men in all sprint events; in all other events we have a maximum of 2. The number of skiers allowed to start in the National Group (extra skiers for the host nation) was reduced from 15 to 10, for all events except for the Pursuit, in which 5 can start.

In an effort to increase the importance of Continental Cup competitions the current leaders of all the Continental Cups are to be given an extra quota spot on World Cup throughout the season. The leaders will be updated for each World Cup period - for example the leader of each series in December will be given the extra spot for January World Cups. As per previous years the winners of all the Continental Cup series will also get reimbursement for accommodation for the World Cups in March.

World Cup Qualification. World Cup qualification standards were kept at 60 FIS points for men distance, 90 FIS points for women distance, and 120 FIS points for sprint. It is possible to qualify for sprint events with distance points but not vice versa. 120 FIS points is also the standard required for the National Group athletes. Nations who do not host a World Cup (hence never have any National Group starts) can also start one skier with FIS points under 120. The total number may not exceed the maximum quota.

Sprint Rules. The standard number of skiers taken to the final in World Cups is now 30 athletes, as per the system used at the Rovaniemi World Junior Championships and the Asiago World Cup last season. The only exception will be for courses deemed too narrow to hold six athletes in the finals. It is also proposed that 30 athletes will be taken to the final in the Olympics.

A second false start in a heat will result in disqualification, regardless of who made the first false start. This rule changed in the middle of last season, and may be made redundant by the proposed introduction of starting gates. Different models will be trialled on the glacier this summer in Europe, with the intention that all World Cups will use the gates next season.

Tour de Ski. This concept was floated last year and opinions of athletes, coaches and media were canvassed during the season. The FIS Tour de Ski is to be introduced in January 2007, and will involve 8 races in 10 days across Germany, Switzerland and Italy. All skiers must complete all stages - if they withdraw from a stage they are out for the rest of the Tour. Intermediate sprints are to be included in all distance events with time bonuses. More details

WC Trial Lengthening of the Sprint. This is an item which deserves a little more comment - there has already been some discussion on other skiing websites. It was decided that for two World Cups in the coming season FIS will trial doubling the sprint qualifying distance. The rationale is that they want to cut down on specialisation so that the "big name" athletes feature in all the events. The shorter distances would still be used for the finals. There are potentially some logistical problems, including increasing the time required for qualifying because a block start system will most often be used.

Some valid opposition against this concept include the following points:

  • Specialisation has already happened - many nations including Australia already have athletes who have been focussing only on sprint for a number of years
  • Cutting out specialists will reduce the number of nations/skiers making finals and winning medals
  • The current sprint event allows the opportunity for nations/athletes to achieve international success in a shorter time frame

However this is packaged, it is effectively an attack against the sprint event. The sprint event has helped the revival of cross country skiing in some nations. It has opened the door for athletes with different physiologies than the traditional cross country skiers. It is the city sprint events that are attracting the big crowds and providing great spectacles.

Further comments on this issue will be included in the next edition of Australian XC News.


Daniel van der Ploeg Updates

Much of the Australian cross country skiing community will already be aware that former Australian junior and senior champion Daniel van der Ploeg was hit by a car while cycling near Albury/Wodonga back in March. As of April 7 he is still in the intensive care unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne. He is no longer in a coma but he is not out of the woods yet. Updates on Daniel's progress are being posted by his family on the Mt Beauty Secondary College website. Our thoughts are with Daniel and the van der Pleog family at this time and we all hope that Daniel makes a full recovery.


April 7 - Murray 4th Overall in Swedish Cup

Despite missing the final race due to illness Paul Murray has ended up 4th overall in the 2004/2005 Folksam Sprint Cup in Sweden. Picking up a cold a couple of days after skiing a leg in the final World Cup Relay for his Swedish club team Falun-Borlange, Paul opted to call the season quits and return to Australia. Sitting in 2nd place prior to the final race in Lulea on April 2 Paul was bumped down to 4th by Fredrik Bystrom and Fredrik Uusitalo. The series was won by Jerry Ahrlin. The result was a great acheivement for Paul and keeps him in good standing in his Swedish club as the highest ranked skier in the series. Not bad in a club that on occasion this season has had six members starting for Sweden on World Cup.