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Regarding the 1999 KAC Martini
A letter from Erik Mather.

As the skier who was asked to conduct the seeding for the 1999 KAC Martini, I would like to make sure readers of the informative X-C Files fully understand the background to this years results. Your coverage (August 13 News) indicates some dissatisfaction with the race seeding - and while not wanting to focus on the negative of a great day of racing - a number of misstatements have been made both to me and at me.


Seeding rules are very clearly stated in the race information sheet and seeding requests are specifically requested (in bold) on the race entry form. Both these forms were mailed to the home/postal address given by previous years' entrants some months before the race.

The written rules were that seeding requests were to close on Sunday evening (2 full days prior to the race). Further, late entries were to close at 9:30am on race day (Wed.). Race start was 11 am.

Seeding requests received after the cutoff times were denied in order to respect those who had complied with the rules.

On race day (Wed.), a small number of well-credentialed skiers were processed with late entries. Following a number of particularly emotional outbursts from a long-standing member of the X-C skiing community I agreed to give these late entries a place in Start Group 4. There were 50 skiers in total allocated to Start Groups 1,2 and 3. I located all but one skier who had been denied seeding due to cut-off times. In order to maintain equity, each of these had their bib marked for Start Group 4.

I made the effort to look for Nick Almoukov, knowing he had not requested a seeded start, but in the expectation that the same compromise (ie. SG 4) ought to be afforded him. At 9:45am he had not entered the race and I went about getting myself ready for my own race.

At around 10:15am I located Alan Hislop (Race Official) who was asked to determine a late entry by Nick Almoukov. I listened as Alan explained to Nick that an official entry could not be provided, but Nick could race in an unofficial bib (numbers 600+) if he wanted a run. Readers need to understand that the computer with bib entries and timing program had been sent to Charlottes Pass.


X-C Files is right to raise the issue of seeding regarding the 1999 KAC Martini race. Undoubtedly skiers are disappointed with the outcome. I know the organisers certainly are. However, a few words for those who would be so keen to criticise the race seeding:

1. THE RULES - the rules re seeding and entries were clearly marked and a more than reasonable effort was undertaken to have these known to entrants months prior to the race. By not enforcing the rules, skiers are asking persons such as myself to exercise discretion. Many will be familiar with the controversy regarding the exercise of such discretions in our sport and elsewhere. What is the fairness to be applied in considering a National Team aspirant who has a late entry, versus a previous winner who does not enter within clearly stated times, versus the entrant who simply forgot, versus the entrant who missed seeding on account of giving service to X-C in developing a new and innovative biathlon system ? The absence of rules has the potential to see persons (rightly) requesting seeding just minutes prior to the race start, with an obviously unworkable outcome to be worsened by a whole heap of official discretion to be applied. You cannot have your cake and eat it.

2. NICK ALMOUKOV - Nick's case is a very unfortunate one and has nothing to do with seeding, and everything to do with physically processing entries in one of the few A to B ski races in Australia. The situation was clearly explained to Nick by a race organiser who is a gentlemanly volunteer (and who pays hard dollars for a weeks "holiday" to have the "privilege" of making sure the KAC-Martini race is conducted on behalf of many hundreds of skiers). I witnessed Nick give every appearance of understanding and accepting an outcome that all parties felt was unfortunate.

That Alan Hislop afforded Nick an unofficial start recognises his status in the very small X-C community. The same smallness of the community should also see some respect for the volunteers who put on races such as KAC Martini. Skiers must exercise a bit of self-discipline themselves, and hopefully this whole affair is a timely reminder to Juniors and Seniors alike - GET YOUR ENTRIES IN AND ABIDE THE RULES. No person has yet explained to me why race officials should be beholden to the varying circumstances of would-be race entrants. There were 370 entrants in the 1999 KAC Martini. That is a lot of personal circumstances to consider - if one wants to argue equity to its fullest extent.

3. RACE ORGANISATION IN GENERAL - The ski racing community is a small one, with races run by arguably Australia's most dedicated volunteers (who else would pay so much in $ and time to be so cold and wet ?). At an entry fee around $15, the Martini is one of the most affordable sporting events in Australia - as cheap as the average community fun run and a whole lot harder to put on. X-C'ers need to bear this in mind.

At the end of the day, we would all like to have seen everyone seeded and entered to their satisfaction and X-C Files can be assured KAC Martini is reviewing the stated rules to examine if there is a better way for the 2000 race.

At the end of the day however, it is the lack of self discipline upon individual skiers, not the officials, that has resulted in the events of the 1999 KAC Martini described as "seeding problems" that "marred" the event. After 15 years of competitive sport (and X-C Coaching), from Ironman Triathlon to local swimming races I have learned the hard way that it is the athlete who is responsible for ensuring they comply with stated rules. 1999 KAC Martini organisers did what they could to assist skiers, but it cuts both ways and it is interesting that in every instance of alleged "injustice" the organisers were simply doing what they very clearly said they would do.

Kind regards

Erik Mather

Allegedly in the capacity of
Power-Hungry Race Official

XC is the official website of the Skiing Australia Cross Country Committee. It is produced with the assistance of the Australian Sports Commission and the Kangaroo Hoppet. The editor can be contacted via hoppet@netc.net.au.