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Spring News 2003
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 (Hit "Refresh" for Latest Update)
Sept 11 - Former Aus Skiers 2nd in Primal Quest
Sept 26 - Provisional National Teams Announced
Oct 14 - Early Season Start for Paul Murray
Oct 21 - Additions to National Team
Oct 28 - Disappointing Start for Murray
Nov 11 - Endurance Sport Bonanza
Nov 17 - Racing Season Into Full Swing

 Summer News 2003-2004


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2003 Race Calendar
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Spring 2003 Updates

November 17 - Racing Season Into Full Swing

Now the northern hemisphere winter racing season has begun in earnest with FIS races held in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia and the USA last weekend. As usual the XC Files will be mostly following race where Australians are competing plus the odd World Cup here and there, however the links at the top left of this page should keep you up to date with the results and news from around the world. The quickest reports particularly for European races are usually made by Wintersport and Skidsport, the latter also providing live updates from some Swedish races (if you can navigate through the Swedish to the right section), while XC SkiWorld, Ski Faster, and Faster Skier (a new edition to the International News links) are the best for North America and make better English reports of World Cup races and some European races as well. The FIS site makes good live updates for the World Cup races, however don't hold your breath for results from any other FIS competitions.

Coming next weekend the first distance World Cups from Beitostolen in Norway, then the following weekend Australian skiers will be in action in West Yellowstone in the USA (Nick Grimmer) and in Sveg in Sweden (Paul Murray and Leon Spiller).

Inside Information From Norway
Duane Butcher is our inside man in Norway, and makes the following new/gossip report from the opening FIS races in Norway:

WELL, the mens sprint team have just done a nude calendar (ho, ho, ho) and a heap of advertising/sponsor stuff like that. They weren't short of money or anything, probably just wanted to get nude. Think it was only the older 'men' on the team who got involved.

Bente Skari has well and truly retired and will not put the skis on at all this winter, she is travelling around the world and has no interest in skiing.

Thomas Alsgaard on the other hand has decided to give xc a miss and give biathlon a crack (ho, ho, ho) and at the time of writing is in 12th position in the opening FIS biathlon event at Beitostølen. [He ended up 42nd after missing 5 targets on the standing shoot.]

Bjørndalen and Andresen (biathletes) are doing the opposite and are racing in the xc events and skipping the biathlon events. [They finished 4th and 2nd respectively behind the winner Kristen Skjeldal, who was dropped from the Norwegian team prior to this season.]

Lars Berger (also a biathlete) decided to give the FIS xc sprint a go yesterday at Beitostølen and despite starting third last in the time-trial, qualified 2nd and made it all the way through to the final, finishing 3rd.

Tor Arne Hetland was knocked out in the 1/4 final, whilst Bjerkeli qualified fastest (looked like he was crusin') and won the final pretty easily ahead of young-gun John Kristen Dahl (who actually could have been out-lunged very easily by Lars Berger IF the biathlete knew how/what a lunge was). [Hetland was also reprimanded in his 1/4 final - for punching another competitor who had pulled on his pole - nothing like a bit of sprint-rage!]

Marit Bjørgen won the womens everything.

Duane Butcher came 56th in the sprint time-trial on Friday November 14th, finishing 16 seconds behind Bjerkeli. He said he had prettty fast skis, and was reasonably happy with his opening race, adding: "I am feeling ok, not in top form yet, and have not got my brain in full 'race mode' yet as far as getting every second out of the course, but it's early days." Stay tuned for more updates from Duane throughout the season.

November 11 - Endurance Sport Bonanza

AROC Adventure Sprint #1
News travels slow but the inaugural AROC Adventure Sprint event in Canberra on November 2 was a great success. The fastest team on the day was Suspicions First Aroused, with cross country skiers Anthony Evans, Finn Marsland, and Chris Darlington making a sizable break on the first mountain bike leg and slowly extending it throughout the rest of the race.

The event consisted of 8 legs including 3 paddling, 2 on mountain bikes, and 3 running. The weather also had about 8 sections, including intermittent sunshine, hail, rain, and wind. Navigation played a major part, with 5 maps being used and some transition points only able to be located after plotting grid references made up from the previous check points. The AROC Adventure Sprint series was established by former national cross country ski team members Tom Landon-Smith and Alina McMaster, who have been heavily into adventure sport events since leaving competitive ski racing in the mid-nineties.

Full results and plenty of pictures from the event are available on the AROC website. The next event is on in Canberra on December 7. Three people are needed for a team, which can be mixed, all men, or all women. Boats are provided, you just need to have running shoes and a mountain bike.

Mountain Bike Nationals
Several National Team members and other cross country skiers were involved in the recent Mountain Bike National Championships held in Mt Beauty from October 19 - November 2. Of note, Chloe McConville won the U17 Female event, Cal Britten finished 3rd and Neil van der Ploeg 5th in the U17 Male event, Paul van der Ploeg was 3rd in the U15 Male, Daniel van der Ploeg was 5th in the Elite Male U23, and Mark Raymond was 6th in Sport Male.

Full results are available on the Team Mt Beauty website.

Great Alpine Challenge
The 2003 Great Alpine Challenge concluded on October 26 with the 55km Mitta Mitta to Mt Beauty mountain bike race. This year's overall winner was Ian Franzke, who extended his lead over nearest rival Leon Spiller by 32 seconds in the ride to win by over 5 minutes. The first woman in the Great Alpine Challenge was Irene Dunn from Adelaide. The winner of the Mitta Mitta to Mt Beauty was Nick Kiraly from Kew, with Daniel van der Ploeg the highest placed skier in 6th place overall.

Full results for the Mitta Mitta to Mt Beauty.

October 28 - Disappointing Start For Murray

The 2003-2004 World Cup season commenced last weekend at Dusseldorf in Germany, however it was not the start that the sole Australian competitor Paul Murray had been hoping for. Murray finished in 72nd place in the 1600m freestyle sprint on October 25th, with a performance far from his best. The men's final was won by Peter Larsson from Sweden, and the women's final by Gabriella Paruzzi from Italy.

Murray reported over the phone from Germany that he was disappointed with his performance, but that he hasn't been detered from his training plan and his season goals (including making the top of the field in a Sprint World Cup). It just wasn't his day in Dusseldorf. He acknowledged that he was probably a little under prepared, and combined with the incredibly dirty and slow snow on the track didn't have the power or the endurance to go fast all the way. With a brief bout of illness back in September and the stresses of packing up and moving to Sweden about 4 weeks ago, Murray only had about 1 month of decent training since August. With another two months of training in Borlange in Sweden alongside Swedish brothers Mikael and Fredrik Ostberg (who finished 5th and 31st in Dusseldorf), before the next sprint World Cup, he is looking forward to delivering a performance that reflects his capabilities.

The World Cup Sprint Relays on October 26th were won by Sweden ahead of Germany in the men, and Norway ahead of Germany in the women. The top 5 men's teams were separated by 4.1 seconds. Full results for all World Cup events are available on the FIS website.

October 21 - Additions to National Team

At the Skiing Australia Cross Country committee meeting on the past weekend the National Teams for 2003-2004 were confirmed. After careful consideration, SAXC decided to make the following additions to the provisional teams that were published on September 26:

Chloe McConville has been selected to the Junior Sprint and Junior B teams
KT Calder, Duane Butcher, and Nick Grimmer have been selected to the Sprint Team
Sally Cunningham has been selected to the senior B-Team

The final teams are still subject to acceptance of the National Team invitation by each athlete.

Murray Fired Up After Season Opener
In the October Sprint held in Sweden on Sunday October 19 Paul Murray finished in 18th place, missing out the final by just 0.4 seconds. While it was a disappointment not to make the final in this classic sprint (Murray qualified for the top 16 in 3 out of 3 Sweden Sprint Cups last season), Murray is fired up for the World Cup opener in Dusseldorf next weekend.

"I reckon I lost about 3 seconds from mistakes, stupid ones....almost fell on the uphill corner... just didnt put things together, which pissed me off as I was feeling pretty sharp and had good skis." said Murray via email. "I should have made the semis, but there's no point wishing. But I can tell you there is nothing like a kick in the arse to get your blood boiling and motivation up." The sprint final was won by Mikael Ostberg, who won the Linz World Cup in December last year. Austria's best sprinter Marc Maier qualified 8th and was knocked out in the quarter-finals. The women's final was won by Swedish Sprint Team member Emelie Ohrstig.

Murray flies down from Sweden to Dusseldorf on Thursday to take on the rest of the world - over 75 skiers are entered for the 1.5km freestyle sprint World Cup on the banks of the Rhein on Saturday October 25. The race can be followed live on the internet via the FIS website (if FIS have their act together).

Results of the time trial and finals are available on the IFK Mora website.

October 14 - Early Season Start For Paul Murray

Though it is only mid-October, the first on-snow race of the 2003-2004 season is set to start this weekend in Sweden. The Mora October Sprint will be held on snow that was buried under bark at the end of last season, and National Team member Paul Murray is already over in Sweden set to fly the Australian flag.

"I'm looking forward to racing this weekend", said Murray, who has recently moved into an appartment in Borlange, just over an hour from Mora. "All the national team [Swedish] is just back from Switzerland, and about 40 guys should be there so making the finals will be a good challenge." The sprint will be about 1km long and in classic style. Last year's October Sprint was won by Tobias Fredriksson, who went on to win the 2003 World Championship Sprint and overal Sprint World Cup.

The Mora sprint will be a good warm-up for the World Cup opening in Dusseldorf the following weekend, where Paul Murray is also set to compete. The Dusseldorf Sprint will be held on a man-made snow course on the banks of the Rhine river, and according to FIS 50,000 spectators were on site last year. It should be possible to follow the event live via the FIS website.

AROC Adventure Sprint Series
Former national cross country ski team members Tom Landon Smith and Alina McMaster are launching their new adventure sports business in just over two weeks in Canberra. Adventure "Sprint" races are be held monthly beginning in November 2, involving 2-4 hours of mountain biking, running and paddling, basically an introduction to the type of events that Tom & Al have been plunging themselves into since retiring from international cross country ski racing. Here's what the AROC (Adventure Racing Outdoor Challenges) website has to say about the format of the events:

Teams of 3 persons (mixed, male and female categories) complete the whole course together. Typically the AROC Adventure Sprints will include mountain biking, flat water paddling, bush running/walking and simple navigation. The odd surprise challenge may appear here and there too!

You will be required to use maps and simple navigation to make your way around the course. ( Navigation instruction will be provided to beginners a couple of hours prior to each event.) You may encounter team challenges along the way - be prepared to get wet and muddy!

The AROC Adventure Sprints are designed for the newcomer but will also give the seasoned adventure racer a good hit out - great practice and fun for all. Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each category - major prizes for the mixed category.

We provide Sevlor K79 inflatable kayaks, personal flotation devices, paddles, and all maps. You’ll need a mountain bike, compass, food, and water, and your friends to make a team.

2 November 2003
7 December 2003
18 January 2004
8 February 2004
21 March 2004

September 26 - Provisional National Teams Announced

Based predominantly on rankings from the Australian season, Skiing Australia Cross Country has announced the provisional national teams for 2003-2004. It should be noted that several applications for post-selection have been received, and the final teams will be confirmed at the SAXC meeting in Canberra on October 18/19.

The Provisional Australian Cross Country Ski Team for 2003/2004 is as follows:

Clare-Louise Brumley
Katherine Calder
Belinda Phillips
Ben Sim
Ben Derrick
Daniel van der Ploeg

Leanne Laajoki
Paul Murray
Chris Darlington
Mark Raymond
Andrew Mock
Andrew Wynd

Sprint Team
Esther Bottomley
Paul Murray
Ben Sim
Andrew Mock
Tim Retchford
Nick Almoukov

Junior A-Team
Sally Cunningham
Aimee Watson
Ben Sim

Junior B-Team
Mark van der Ploeg
Ewan Watson

Junior Sprint Team
Abbey Grimmer
Sally Cunningham
Aimee Watson
Ben Sim

Major competitions for 2003/2004 include World Cup and Continental Cup series, the 2004 World Junior Championships in Norway, and the 2004 U23 Intercontinental Championships in the USA.

Some KAC Stats Confirmed
Back in the August 14 update to the Winter News the question was put: How many times Camille Melvey has won the KAC? Thanks to the organisers of the KAC the answer is revealed. Camille has won the KAC 7 times: in 1986, 1992, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2003. Another statistic from this year's event - Ben Sim became the first male to win the KAC 3 times in a row.

September 11 - Former Aus Skiers 2nd in Primal Quest

The Subaru Primal Quest is considered the world's largest adventure race, with this year's event near Lake Tahoe in California featuring 80 teams of four competing for a prize pool of US$250,000. Stages include mountain biking, flat and white water kayaking, rollerblading, orienteering, caving, trekking, and a ropes section. After nearly 5 days of very tough competitive racing the victorious team was Nike ACG/Balance Bar from the USA, in a time of 113 hours and 43 minutes.Taking second place in 5 days and 30 minutes was the Australian team of AROC - Adventure Racing Outdoor Challenges - including former National Team skiers Alina McMaster and Tom Landon-Smith, and Matt Dalziel and Nigel Aylott. AROC was up in the top 5 throughout the competition, coming from behind in the closing stages to overtake Seagate from New Zealand (who incurred a 6hr penalty for travelling on disallowed tracks) and Parallax from the USA (who lost their way on the last mountain bike stage).

Full details of the event can be found at, including a GPS tracking replay of the event - although many of the GPS units were water-logged on one of the kayaking legs and stopped transmitting.

AROC are soon to launch their own Adventure Race series based out of Canberra. More details will be available soon at

Provisional National Rankings
The provisional National Rankings for 2003 have been calculated and are posted on this website. Ben Derrick's victory in the last race of the season gave him the men's number 1 ranking just 0.1% ahead of Ben Sim, while Clare-Louise Brumley took the women's number 1 ranking 0.78% ahead of KT Calder. Ben Sim took the number 1 spot in the junior men, with Sally Cunningham leading the junior women's rankings. The Skiing Australia Cross Country committee will be selecting the 2003-2004 national team over the next two weeks.

2003 Distance Rankings
2003 Sprint Rankings