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Winter News 2003
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June 27 - The Winter Begins
July 5 - Birkebeiner Classic + National Team Camp
July 7 - Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs
July 13 - Another Weekend of Racing
July 15 - MISSING! The Otto Pinkas Trophy!
July 16 - Entry Forms
July 21 - Sprint Action North & South
July 22 - More Entry Forms
July 28 - ACT/NSW Champs
July 31 - Kick Bike
August 1 - Lake Mountain Mini Series
August 4 - Nationals Action Begins
August 6 - 1 Week To The 2003 KAC
August 11 - Australian Sprint Championship
August 14 - A Very Wet KAC
August 18 - Young Guns Fire in 30km Champs
August 23 - Australian Championship Press Releases
August 24 - Final National Events Called Off
August 29 - Nationals Race Rescheduled
August 31 - Hoppet Triple for Derrick and Phillips
September 3 - Message from BNSC re Nationals
September 8 - Final Championship Races

 Spring News 2003

Sally Cunningham leads Aimee Watson, Australian 5km Classic
Falls Creek, September 2003
(Photo by Kevin Tory)

(More pics at bottom of page)

2003 Race Calendar
2003 Race Results

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2002 National Rankings

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Winter 2003 Updates
September 8 - Final Championship Races

The 2003 Australian Open and Junior Championships for cross country skiing concluded yesterday at Falls Creek with the 2.5km, 5km, and 10km classic events. Ben Derrick from Wangaratta Ski Club came from behind to win the 10km classic, while Clare-Louise Brumley from the Lake Mountain Nordic Team lead all the way to win the 5km classic. With their victories both skiers secured the number 1 rankings in the 2003 Australian Continental Cup.

Early on in the race Derrick trailed 18-year-old NSWIS skier Ben Sim, who won the 15km classic championship race earlier this season. However in the last big hill on the second 5km lap Sim was feeling the effects of a long season of racing, and Derrick powered away over the closing stages to win by 24 seconds, claiming his 12th national title since 1998. Third place went to Paul Murray from the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club.

Brumley always starts conservatively because of asthma, however already at the 1.5km mark she held a slender lead ahead of Lake Mountain team-mate Belinda Phillips and Camilley Melvey from NSW. Leanne Laajoki from Canberra made some ground up the long climb in the middle of the 5km loop, moving up into 3rd place and closing on both Phillips and Brumley. Then Brumley stormed home as she has in every race this season, running out a 26 second winner ahead of Phillips. Laajoki lost time on the final downhills but hung onto 3rd place ahead of Robin Rodd from Albury.

In the junior age classes there were no real surprises. Ben Sim and Sally Cunningham from the ACT won the open junior classes and the Otto Pinkas Trophies (for best combined junior skier) for 2003. Neil van der Ploeg from Tawonga won the U16 boys, and Aimee Watson from Cooma the U16 girls. Callum Watson and d'Arcy Baxter from Cooma won the U14 classes, with Phillip Bellingham from Mt Beauty and Siobhan Jones from Jindabyne winning the U12.

Open 5/10km Classic Results
Junior Classic Results

Final Continental Cup Standings
In the 2003 Australian Continental Cup Series Ben Derrick finished up on top with 380 points from three wins and one 2nd place, ahead of Ben Sim with 325 points from two wins, a 2nd place and a 5th. Daniel van der Ploeg was third with 255 points. Clare-Louise Brumley won the women's series with 360 points from three wins and a 3rd place, ahead of Belinda Phillips with 300 points from one win, one 2nd place, and two 3rd places. Camille Melvey took third place with 242 points.

Full Continental Cup Standings

September 3 - Message from BNSC re Nationals

Everything is set and the weather forecast is much more promising for the rescheduled Australian Junior, Open and Masters Championship classic races this Sunday August 7 at Falls Creek. Race organisers BNSC are expecting about 90% of the original field to turn up, as well as several "late entries". The following information on the rescheduling of the event has been supplied by BNSC:

The Skiing Australia Cross Country Committee (SAXCC) had contracted the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club (BNSC) Race Committee to conduct the 2.5/5.0/10.0 Km Classic event of the 2003 Australian Junior, Open and Masters Cross Country Ski Championship at Falls Creek on Sunday August 24. Those races were called off due to gale force winds and heavy snow falls. The Jury made that decision after examining the course and holding discussions with the BNSC Race Committee.

On that day neither the Jury nor the BNSC Race Committee had the power to postpone or reschedule the event. The only body that has the power and responsibility to reschedule the event is the SAXCC.

The Chairperson of the SAXCC held discussions with all Committee members and the Committee decided to reschedule the event on Sunday September 7. The BNSC Race Committee was contacted with a request to run the event on that day.

The BNSC Race Committee has agreed to run the rescheduled event and has made the following decisions:

  • The start list that was to be used for the cancelled event will be used for the rescheduled event on 7th Sep.
  • Any additional starters will be treated as "Late Entries"
  • The timetable of events that was to be used for August 24 will be used for the rescheduled event - with the 10 km Mens event starting at10.00 am, the 5.0 km Womens event starting at 11.20 am and the Junior event at 12 noon.
  • The race course to be used for this rescheduled event will need to be re-assessed due to changing snow conditions. However, it is the intention of the Chief of Course to use the same course that would have been used for the cancelled event apart from a minor change at Panorama corner.
  • The presentations will be held in Windy Corner Day Shelter at 2.00 pm.

    Note: The Junior Interstate Sprint Relay event that was also called off on August 24 has not been rescheduled and will not be conducted.

    Brian Keeble
    BNSC Race Committee

    August 31- Hoppet Triple for Derrick and Phillips

    The 13th annual Kangaroo Hoppet was held today at Falls Creek in North-East Victoria. In extreme conditions Ben Derrick from Wangaratta and Belinda Phillips from Falls Creek won the main event, both becoming the first skiers to win three Hoppets. The Kangaroo Hoppet is Australia's leg of the Worldloppet series of cross country ski races, which includes 14 long-distance ski events world-wide attracting over 90,000 participants annually.

    Strong winds and horizontally falling snow forced the race jury to change the course and run a shortened event using the Sun Valley Loop. The Kangaroo Hoppet distance was halved to 21km, or three laps of the traditional 7km Joey Hoppet loop, with the normal 21km event reduced to 14km and two laps. Despite the adverse conditions the majority of race entrants participated, including the Deputy Premier of Victoria John Thwaites, who after officially firing the gun for the start of the 21km skied the 7km event 20 minutes later.

    The race could have gone horribly wrong for Derrick, when 500m out of the start he broke one of his poles as skiers jostled for position in the pack. Luckily he received a new pole almost immediately from fellow Victorian Nick Grimmer and didn't lose too much time. Cameron Morton from Victoria lead a breakaway group on the first lap, which included Derrick, Swiss skier Pascal Grab, Daniel Van der Ploeg from Victoria, and NSW Institute of Sport skier Chris Darlington. Derrick went to the front and picked up the pace at the start the second lap, dropping Darlington and Grab, and then gradually worked his way to a small but significant break from Morton and Van der Ploeg. Weaving in and out of lapped skiers on the last lap Derrick didn't look back, and went on to win by just over a minute. Morton had made a break on Van der Ploeg and thought he had second place in the bag, however Van der Ploeg caught him by surprise 100m out from the finish and sprinted past to claim second by less than a metre. Grab from Switzerland out-sprinted Darlington to take 4th place.

    Phillips lead the women's field the entire race, however for the first part of the race she didn't know it. Mixed in amongst the men and with poor visibility, it was only when the commentators announced her as the leading woman after the first lap that she realised she was in front. Clare-Louise Brumley from Templestowe and Camille Melvey from Bondi were actually not far behind for the first half of the race, however Phillips got a better run through the lapping traffic on the second lap and established a sizeable lead. In the end the 30-year old who won by nearly two minutes, with Melvey fighting her way to second place and Brumley taking third.

    It was the third Kangaroo Hoppet win for both Phillip and Derrick, with this victory making it three in a row for Phillips and three out of four for Derrick. Both skiers live, work and train out of the Howmans Gap Alpine Centre near Falls Creek during the winter.

    Full Results will be available on the Kangaroo Hoppet site.

    August 29- Nationals Race Rescheduled

    Skiing Australia Cross Country Committee (SAXCC) Announcement

    Following the cancellation last Sunday 24th August of the classical leg of the National Senior/Junior race at Falls Creek due to bad conditions SAXCC advise that this race is now rescheduled to be held at Falls Creek on Sunday 7th September starting at 10am. The race will be conducted by Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club and the Technical Delegate will be Laurie Fitzsimmons.

    Competitors are asked to please contact the Birkebeiner Club to notify of their intentions to compete so an indication of the number of competitors can be ascertained. A list will also be left at the Hoppet race office for this purpose.

    SAXCC reserve the right to cancel the race if insufficient competitors indicate they will be contesting. SAXCC appreciate that some competitors may have made alternative arrangements on this day and apologise for any inconvenience. The race will be run on the existing published draw unless there are too many gaps in which case a redraw will occur in order to shorten the start list.

    If you have any queries please contact the Birkebeiner Race Secretary 03 5754 1045

    Kangaroo Hoppet Ready To Go
    The international skiing world turns towards Falls Creek this Saturday August 30 for the 13th Kangaroo Hoppet, Australia's biggest international skiing event. Snow conditions have been near perfect in the lead-up to the event, with a very good cover of hard-packed groomed over the courses on the Bogong High Plains. Special guest for the championships is the Victorian Deputy Premier, the Honourable John Thwaites, who will be the official starter of the 42km main event.

    The year there is a very strong domestic field, with 3 of the top 4 men and the 3 top women all from Australia. The international contenders are lead by Pascal Grab from Switzerland, who skied an impressive warm-up race to finish 3rd in the Australian championships last weekend after only 3 days on snow. Grab's biggest opposition will come from 2-time Hoppet winner Ben Derrick from Wangaratta, rising talent Daniel van der Ploeg fom Mt Beauty, and triple Winter Olympian Anthony Evans from Canberra. The women's field will be lead by the 2002 Hoppet winner Belinda Phillips from Falls Creek, 2003 Australian Champion Clare-Louise Brumley from Templestowe, and 2000 Hoppet winner Camille Melvey from Bondi.

    Entries are approaching the 1100 mark, and the new Hoppet Office in Mt Beauty will be open for number collection and late entries until midnight on Friday night. Internet entries will close on Friday afternoon.

    The only negative for the upcoming event is a forecast for strong winds and rain turning to snow. However race organisers have several different course alternatives if the weather turns bad.

    August 24- Final National Events Called Off

    The final events of the 2003 Australian Championship were to have been held today at Falls Creek, however unfortunately due to extreme weather conditions they were called off. It is unsure at this stage whether these events will be postponed until later in the season, or if they will be cancelled altogether.

    Dumping wet snow and very strong winds caused the race jury to meet 2 hours before the start, and initially the decision was postponed until 1/2 an hour before the scheduled start at 10:00am. Several alternatives were considered, including using a more sheltered course, and cancelling just the younger junior events. In the end some of the main factors causing the jury to reach their decision were consideration for the race officials who would be exposed to the conditions throughout the event, and an expectation (which proved to be true) that the weather would worsen throughout the day.

    August 23- Australian Championship Press Releases

    Saturday August 23 - Australian Open & Junior Championships - Falls Creek
    The was some exciting Cross Country Ski racing today at Falls Creek in the 2003 Australian Championships. 30-year old Ben Derrick from Wangaratta turned the tables on the younger favourites in the 10km freestyle to win his 11th national title. In the women's 5km freestyle Clare-Louise Brumley from Templestowe came from behind in the last 500m to win by only 4 seconds ahead of KT Calder from Canberra. Victorian Minister for Sport Justin Madden attended the event, presenting medals and certificates to the winners after the races.

    Today's races were interval starts, with each skier doing an individual time trial 30 seconds apart. Daniel Van der Ploeg, 19, from Tawonga and Ben Sim, 18, from Cooma were tipped as front-runners in the 10km, having split the championship events so far this season. It was close racing early on, with Derrick and Sim dead level after 2.5km and 3 other skiers within 10s. On the second 5km lap Derrick started to pull away, overtaking Van der Ploeg from 30 seconds behind after 7.5km. Sim began to pay for his fast start, dropping back to 3rd place only a few seconds ahead of NSWIS team-mate Chris Darlington. There was no stopping Derrick, and he went on to win by over 1 minute ahead of Van der Ploeg, who was the first in the junior class. Pascal Grab from Switzerland came from nowhere to snatch third place by 1 second ahead of Chris Darlington, with Sim slumping to 5th place a further 16s behind.

    The 5km freestyle was the closest women's race of the season. Calder got out to an early lead, and at 2.5km was 10 seconds up on Belinda Phillips from Falls Creek and 18 seconds up on Brumley. But then Brumley started to peg her way back, moving into second position past Phillips and closing the gap to 7 seconds with only 1km to go. Calder gave it all she could and thought she had it, but a flying finish by Brumley delivered her the win by jut 4 seconds, the 25-year old's third Australian title this season. Phillips took third place, with 17-year-old Sally Cunningham the first junior skier in 4th place overall.

    There was also some close racing in the younger age classes. In the U16 boys's 5km Neil van der Ploeg from Tawonga pipped Lachlan Cann from Yackandanda by just 1.8 seconds, and in the U14 men Chris Cook got by up 2.3 seconds ahead of Callum Watson from Cooma. In other classes Aimee Watson from Cooma won the U16 girls, d'Arcy Baxter from Cooma won the U14 girls, Phillip Bellingham from Mt Beauty won the U12 boys, and Siobhan Jones from Jindabyne won the U12 girls.

    The 2003 Australian Open & Junior Championships continue tomorrow at Falls Creek with classic events over the same distances as today.

    Full results are up! Open Results - Junior Results

    Friday August 22 - Australian Junior Sprint Championship - Falls Creek
    The 2003 Australian Junior Championships for Cross Country Skiing started today with the Sprint events at Falls Creek in north-eastern Victoria. Esther Bottomley from Mt Beauty in Victoria successfully defended her junior women's sprint title, while Ben Sim from Cooma came from behind to snatch victory in the junior men's sprint.

    Fresh snow falls overnight cleared up to provide great conditions for the event, which involved a qualifying time trial followed by head-to-head finals over a 1km course. It was no surprise that Bottomley and Sim posted the fastest qualifying times, as each had won the open sprint events two weeks ago at Perisher Valley. However both skiers were pushed as hard here in the Under 20 junior finals as in the open class.

    Bottomley held a slender lead in the U20 women's A-final as they came into the last downhill, ahead of Sally Cunningham from Canberra and Abbey Grimmer from Yackandanda. Grimmer made a bold overtaking manoeuvre to move into second place past Cunningham 200m before the finish, and both skiers closed on Bottomley as they turned in the final straight. Bottomley pulled away to take the victory, while Grimmer took second place from Cunningham only after a photo finish.

    2002 Australian Junior Sprint Champion Nick Grimmer from Yackandanda won the start of the U20 men's A-final, and fought hard to stay in front of Sim and Daniel van der Ploeg from Tawonga almost all the way round the course. Grimmer hit the final straight in first place and tried to hang on, but a missed pole plant only metres before the line saw Sim come through and out-lunge him by a boot-length. Van der Ploeg took third place only a metre further back.

    In the U16 men's A-Final Neil van der Ploeg from Tawonga won the A-final ahead of Campbell Townsend from Yea, while Aimee Watson from Cooma just hung on to win the U16 women's A-final from a very fast-finishing Kelly Hertzog from Mt Beauty.

    The 2003 Australian Championships continue all weekend at Falls Creek with both Open and Junior events tomorrow. Freestyle distance events are on Saturday August 23, with the classic distance events on Sunday August 24.

    Results are up!

    August 18 - Young Guns Fire in 30km Championship

    The 2003 Australian Championships continued on Saturday August 16th with the mass start 30km and 15km freestyle events at Perisher Valley. After an exciting duel Daniel Van der Ploeg from Mt Beauty won the men's 30km event by just 8 seconds ahead of Ben Sim from Cooma. Clare-Louise Brumley from the Lake Mountain Nordic Team won the women's 15km, 26 seconds ahead of Katherine Calder from Canberra. The event coincided with the Snowy Mountains Classic mass participation event which attracted 143 entrants in 4 different race distances.

    Fast conditions saw the men's event won in 1 hour 10 minutes and 37 seconds, a scintillating time for 30km. A pack of four skiers formed soon after the start lead by reigning 30km champion Ben Derrick from Wangaratta Ski Club and including Van der Ploeg, Sim, and his NSWIS team-mate Chris Darlington. At 8.5km Derrick lost contact after a fall on a downhill, and Darlington was dropped only a few km later as Sim and Van der Ploeg picked up the pace. The two young skiers worked together at the front for most of the rest of the race, swapping the lead. Derrick moved up to third position and closed to within 10 seconds at about the 25km mark, but unable to get in contact the time gap blew out again in the closing kms. With knowledge that Van der Ploeg had faster skis Sim tried to break clear on the last climb, however Van der Ploeg hung on for all he was worth. Gliding past on the downhill Van der Ploeg managed to get a small gap, and went on to win one of the most exciting mass start races in Australia since the 1997 Kangaroo Hoppet.

    Calder lead out in the women's 15km and got a small break up the first hill., hoping to have recovered from illness which had kept her from training two of the last three weeks. However Brumley was faster on the flatter sections of the course, and after bridging the gap established a 10 second break early on the second 7.5km lap. Brumley became stronger as the race went on, while Calder was unable to respond, and Brumley went on to win by 26 seconds. Belinda Phillips from Falls Creek in Victoria took third place, 1:40 off the pace.

    In an unusual move race organisers ran two separate 30km events for the championship event and the Snowy Mountains Classic, starting 30 minutes apart. Triple Winter Olympian Anthony Evans opted to ski the Snowy Mountains Classic, and skied the entire way by himself in a smoking time of 1:13:51. With the snow getting slower in the sun Evans would surely have been a contender in the championship event (his first 7.5 lap time was 5 seconds faster than the championship racers). The women's 30km event was won by former national team member Alina McMaster.

    Australian 15/30km Results
    Snowy Mountains Classic Results

    August 14 - A Very Wet KAC

    Despite dumping rain throughout the day and rapidly disappearing snow organisers of the 2003 KAC managed to run a successful event on a shortened course up the Charlotte's Pass. In a close race Ben Sim from Cooma managed to hold off his NSWIS coach Nick Almoukov to win his third KAC in a row. The first woman across the line was Camille Melvey from Boonoona Ski Club, who thrived in the tough conditions to finish in 8th place overall. An incredible 176 skiers completed the course, an amazing number considering the conditions.

    The race start was moved up past Bett's Creek after torrential rain stripped parts of the road bare, and the race finish was up on the road at the turn down into the Charlotte's Pass village. Former national team member Tom Landon Smith lead a break-away group of 6 skiers soon after the start. At Spencers Creek Anthony Evans and Sim took a better path around a bare patch and went to the front, while Finn Marsland was the only one fool enough to take off his skis and lost contact with the pack. With a short burst Sim made it clear off the front by himself into the wind, and then Almoukov pulled from the back of the pack to chase him down alone. The two came together for a while before Sim made a another burst clear and held on to the finish. Landon Smith took third place ahead of Evans, with Tim Retchford 5th.

    Alina McMaster was the first woman on the track for a short while until Melvey took over and moved up through the field. Last year's female winner KT Calder got a poor start, and slowly but surely worked her way up to catch and pass McMaster and move into second place. But Melvey was too strong, and if better records were available we could tell you how many times she has won this race (anyone?). Calder took second, McMaster third.

    Results will be available on the KAC Website.

    Lake Mountain Mini Series Race 3
    The final race of the Lake Mountain Mini Series on August 10 attracted a whopping 112 competitors, boosted by participants from Melbourne schools.

    There was some close racing in the older classes, with Tim Proctor winning the U18 Boys by less than a second to Campbell Townsend and Lachlann Cann third only 3.5 seconds off the pace. In the U18 Girls Bronwyn Carr won by 6 seconds ahead of Nicki Lees. Chris Cook and Giles Richardson were also separated by less than a second in the U14 Boys, while Georgia Merrit was a comfortable winner in the U14 Girls. Dion Richardson and Clare Butler won the U10 classes, and Christopher Darvenzia and Alice Chambers were first home in the U6 classes.

    Full Results

    Stirling Razorback Rush
    Mt Stirling's premier race for the season is scheduled to be held on Mt. Stirling at 11am, this coming Saturday August 16. It is a fun freestyle cross country ski race for the whole family.

    Due to a large number of trees having fallen across the Mt. No.3 Road, the full 25km traditional course will not be possible. Instead, there will be two distances raced, 5km and 15km, as follows;The 5km track is expected to run from Telephone Box Junction (near the car park) to the Razorback Hut, then return to TBJ via the Hut Track. The 15km track is expected to be two loops of the above, plus another short loop near the Razorback Hut.

    The exact nature of the race track will depend on mountain conditions on the day, and will be determined by Resort Management. Please bring your cameras, as the latest forecast is for fine weather. There should be great photo opportunities !

    For the up to date information on Mt. Stirling ski conditions please see Ski Info website. For further information about the race, please contact Prue Dobbin on (03) 5768 2482, or by e-mail at

    August 11 -Australian Sprint Championships

    Perisher Valley was host to the 2003 Australian Sprint Championships on Saturday August 9, and after dumping snow an hour before the start the weather cleared up to create optimal spectator conditions in front of the Sverre Kaaten Nordic Shelter. The 500m loop was a little soft up the hill but otherwise the course was in pretty good nick. Esther Bottomley from the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club was in a class of her own in the women's 1km final, skiing away from the other finalists to win her 4th straight Australian Sprint title. The men's title was a much closer affair, with NSIWS junior Ben Sim from Cooma holding on in the final to win by only a couple of metres ahead of Andrew Mock from Porepunkah.

    Numbers were down in the women's field, with several of the top names absent including Katie Calder from Canberra (sick) and Victorians Clare-Louise Brumley and Belinda Phillips (both resting up for the 15km next weekend). Bottomley still had some competition in the qualifying time trial, posting the fastest time only 1 second ahead from Torill Pedersen from Norway. However in the final Bottomley quickly established a small break, and was never threatened on her way to claiming yet another Australian sprint title. Pedersen had a close battle with Sally Cunningham from the ACT for second place, with the result coming right down to the final lunge. With the finish-line video camera running out of battery at the crucial moment the judges had to rely on the naked eye, and second place was awarded to Cunningham. NSWIS junior Amy Watson took fourth place.

    The top 3 male Australian sprinters on FIS rankings failed to really fire, including race favouite Paul Murray who was lucky to scrape through the final after a close finish in the quarters, and wasn't a contender once he got there. Nick Grimmer was sick and knocked out in the quarters, Duane Butcher lacked a bit of oompf and was knocked out in the semis, though came from behind to win the B-final with his trademark lunge.

    Sim, Mock, and Tim Retchford from BNSC all tied for the fastest qualifying time, and had to be seeded according to their FIS rankings. These three skiers were in a class of their own throughout the finals, comfortably progressing through the rounds without too much trouble. Finn Marsland and Ian Bottomley got the jump on Sim at the start in the semi-final, however come the second lap Sim powered away for a comfortable victory. In the A-final Sim went straight to the front, and established a small break over the top of the hill. However Mock was not to be outclassed, and pulled back the gap at the start of the second lap with Retchford in tow, while Murray was already out of contention. This time over the top of the hill Mock was right on Sim's tail, and turning into the final straight he pulled into the outside lane to take a crack at the title. However Sim dug deep, and fighting all the way to the line hung on to win by about a metre. Retchford took third place, his first podium finish at an open Australian Championship event.

    Full results.

    The sprint was also the second leg in the 2003 Continental Cup Series. Taking two wins from two events, Sim leads the men's series by 75 points ahead of Mock. With Brumley, Calder, and Phillips absent from the sprint Cunningham now leads the women's series by 30 points. Continental Cup standings.

    ACT Sprint Relays
    Just in case three tough sprinting rounds wasn't enough, the action continued in the afternoon after the Australian Sprint Championship with the ACT Sprint Relays. The format was two-person teams, with two alternating laps each of the 500m sprint course. Bottomley and Cunningham (or Team Cunning-Bottom) won the women's sprint relay comfortably ahead of Pedersen and former national junior team member Rhiannon Palmer. The men's sprint relay was much more dramatic, with the team of Bottomley (Ian)/Marsland breaking away to a 30m lead after the first two legs. Unfortunately there was only enough juice in the tank for one lap each, and the teams of Sim/ Chris Darlington and Leon Spiller/Butcher moved up to the front. A fall by Retchford had put Retchford/Mock out of the hunt. It came down to the final straight and Darlington managed to hold on ahead of Butcher to deliver victory for NSWIS #1.

    August 6 - 1 Week To The 2003 KAC

    The KAC Cross Country Classic Ski Race on Wednesday August 13 is the largest and most prestigious cross country ski race in NSW. Designed to foster the enjoyment of skiing, this race welcomes Olympic skiers and casual participants alike. Run annually since 1972, the KAC continues with the same tradition of promoting cross country skiing and encouraging all entrants to enjoy the day.

    This year the KAC has a new sponsor, the Solar Springs Health Retreat in Bundanoon. With a stack of prizes up for grabs in the overall and handicap categories, and plenty of lucky door prizes at the prize giving at Jax Nightclub on Wednesday night, the 2003 KAC will be one of the highlights of the 2003 citizen racing scene. The reigning champions Ben Sim from Cooma and KT Calder from Canberra will be out to defend their titles, and organisers are expecting a bigger turn-out than the 300-strong field that started in 2002.

    The race starts at Perisher Valley and after following a very pretty route for approx 9km finishes in the tiny snowbound village at Charlotte Pass, right at the edge of the main range. The fastest competitors take about 20 minutes and the slowest about 2 hours. The KAC also forms the hub of the NSW Cross Country Race Week, which among other events and activities includes the Boonoona Open, NSW Night Relays, KAC sponsored Ski Workshops, the Snowy Mountains Classic, and concludes with the ACT Women in Sport Ski de Femme on Sunday August 17.

    More information on the race is available from the KAC Website

    August 4 - Nationals Action Begins

    The 2003 Australian Continental Cup Series for Cross Country Skiing kicked off on Saturday August 4 with the Australian 10km and 15km Championships at Mt Hotham in North-East Victoria. In the women's 10km classic event Clare-Louise Brumley from the Lake Mountain Nordic Team won her first ever Australian title after a close battle with Katherine Calder from Canberra. In the men's 15km classic Ben Sim from Cooma upset the reigning champion Ben Derrick from Wangaratta Ski Club to claim a decisive victory and his second Australian title.

    Fresh snow falls during week had the Mt Hotham cross country tracks in superb condition, while bright sunshine kept spectators warm during a morning of exciting racing. This was the first of 5 events in the 2003 Australian Continental Cup Series, which concludes with the Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek on August 30.

    After the first 5km loop Brumley was dead level with Calder, who had made a clean sweep of the 2002 Australian Championship distance events and went into this race as the favourite(despite being sick for a week before the race). Calder made up time and went into the lead at the start of the second lap, only to lose her advantage with a fall (she collided with a tree) at about the 7km mark. With Calder having lost the mental edge, Brumley then powered away over the final 2km to win by 24 seconds. This was the first ever championship victory for the 25-year old Brumley, who returned to xc ski racing in 2002 after a break from the sport. Third place went to Belinda Phillips from the Lake Mountain Nordic Team, with ACT skiers Sally Cunningham and Leanne Laajoki taking 4th and 5th.

    Sim took an early 18 second lead after 2.5km in the men's 15km, with Derrick, Jordi St John from the USA and Andrew Mock from Porepunkah in a close race for second spot. St John and Mock dropped off the pace on the second lap, leaving Derrick as the only serious contender against Sim. At the half-way mark Sim had extended his lead out to 30 seconds from Derrick, who was struggling with dodgy wax. Sim gave no quarter and in the end ran out a comfortable winner 1:10 ahead of Derrick. Paul Murray from Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club finished strongly to take third place ahead of team-mate Daniel van der Ploeg. Mock held on to 5th place. This was Sim's second open national title, and coming only 4 days after his 18th birthday will not be his last.

    The 2003 Continental Cup continues next weekend with the Australian Sprint Championships at Perisher Valley on August 9.

    Full Results are up!

    Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub to Pub
    Mt Hotham also hosted the 4th event of the 2003 Victorian Interclub Series this weekend, the Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub to Pub. The Interclub competition was as close as it could get, with Wangaratta Ski Club getting up over Birkebeiner Nordic Ski club by just a single point. The race itself was won by Ben Derrick, who broke away early and won by about 20 seconds ahead of Daniel van der Ploeg, with Cameron Morton taking 3rd place. The first woman across the line was Belinda Phillips.

    A decisive moment for the Interclub points tally came just before the finish line in the battle for about 15th place. Cameron Dickinson from Wangaratta and Finn Marsland from BNSC collided in a sprint for the finish and were left sprawling on the snow only metres before the line. Dickinson was first up to his feet and crossed the line to deliver what proved to be the winning points for his club.

    Results coming soon on the Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub to Pub Website

    New Sprint Relay Event This Weekend
    With the Sprint Relay event recently added onto the cross country skiing World Championship schedule for 2005, organisers of the National Sprint Championship this Saturday August 9 at Perisher Valley have decided to run a new event in the afternoon after the individual sprint. As an added incentive to attract some quality teams from the individual sprinters, the ACT Sprint Relays will have $100 up as prize money for first placed male and female teams.

    The course will be determined on the race day dependant upon snow conditions but the distance will be around 400 metres to 500 metres. A team will consist of 2 people who will ski 2 legs each of a sprint course under the same rules as individual sprint racing. Teams can be entered up until 12:00 on race day. For more information ring 0409 914 032.

    August 1 - Lake Mountain Mini Series

    The first race of the Lake Mountain Mini Series scheduled for July 13 was cancelled due to lack of snow, but now there is plenty of snow at Lake Mountain and race number 2 on Sunday July 27 was a great success. Nearly 50 young skiers took part in the competition, which catered for ages classes from Under 18 down to Under 6 and took place on various combinations of tracks centered around the Helicopeter Flat and Echo Flat areas.

    In the U18 classes Hamish McLean and Sian Harrop were the fastest skiers, while in the hotly contested U14 classes the winners were Giles Richardson and Georgia Merrit. Dion Richardson and Clare Butler won the U10 classes, and Christopher Darvenzia was first home in the U6 Boys.

    The third and final event in the Lake Mountain Mini Series for 2003 is on Sunday August 10, in the afternoon after the Bullfight Charge in the morning.

    Full Results

    July 31 - Kick Bike

    Some might say this sounds like a scooter, and they would not be too far wrong. Basically take a bigger frame and add a road or mountain bike wheel on the front and you have a Kickbike. At the start of the Australian winter Bruce Cook from Kickbike Australia took a tour down south from his base in Queensland to demonstrate his wares to the cross country skiing community. Promoted as a cross-training alternative for the elite athlete and a low-impact fitness sport for the recreational punter, there are several different models available depending on the terrain you want to use it on and how fast you want to go.

    For more information on Kickbike alternatives and prices, go to or call 1300 854 257.

    July 28 - ACT/NSW Champs

    ACT/NSW Senior/Junior Championships
    The ACT and NSW Cross Country Skiing Open and Junior Championships were held on Saturday July 26 and Sunday July 27 at Perisher Valley in NSW. In the women's 5km Freestyle and 5km Classic competitions it was an ACT Academy of Sport double, with Katherine Calder cleaning up the open class and Sally Cunningham winning the overall junior class. In the men's competitions NSW Institute of Sport junior skier Ben Sim won both the 10km Freestyle and 10km Classic events, claiming both the open and junior titles.

    Calder, the 2002 Australian Champion, made it clear that she will again be the skier to beat this season. The 22 year old who resides in Jindabyne during the winter won the 5km events by over a minute each day, and will go in as favourite next weekend when the 2003 Australian Championships begin at Mt Hotham. This year the Australian Championships are spread out over 4 weekends, with Perisher Valley hosting the Sprint and 15/30km events the following two weekends and Falls Creek hosting the final 5/10km events on August 23-24. Cunningham took second place in the open 5km freestyle on Saturday, only 7 seconds ahead of former Australian Champion Camille Melvey. Melvey turned the tables in the 5km classic the next day, taking 2nd place 32 seconds ahead of Cunningham. Leanne Laajoki from the ACT was in contention for the podium in the classic race at the 3.5km mark, holding a 2 second lead ahead of Cunningham. However Laajoki lost considerable time on the closing downhill, and only just managed to hold onto 4th place 7 seconds ahead of NSW junior Aimee Watson.

    17 year old Ben Sim from Cooma won the 10km freestyle on Saturday by 41 seconds ahead of fellow NSWIS scholarship holder Chris Darlington from Jindabyne, but had a tougher battle in the 10km classic the next day with former Australian Champion Anthony Evans. Sim held a slender 3-second lead from Evans on the first 5km lap, before digging deep on the 2nd lap to extend his lead out to 20 seconds at the finish. NSWIS coach Nick Almoukov took 3rd place in the freestyle event, while Darlington was 3rd in the classic.

    The 5km and 10km events each day were also selection races for the Australian Junior Team. Cunningham was the first junior in both 5km events and so earned two zero percentages towards the national junior ranking, however Aimee Watson was only 21 seconds behind in the freestyle and 33 seconds in the classic and will have an average % under 2.5%. Third place went to Victorians Abbey Grimmer in the freestyle and Jaffa Withers in the classic event. In the various age classes the winners in both styles were: Siobhan Jones in the U12; d'Arcy Baxter in the U14, Aimee Watson in the U16, Sally Cunningham in U18, and Holly Middleton in U20.

    Ben Sim set a hard standard for the junior men to reach in the 10km events, however several skiers were up to the challenge. Mark van der Ploeg fictoria skied a solid race to take 2nd place in the freestyle event just under 6% behind, and Ewan Watson also put in a good race to make it comfortably under the 10% junior team selection standard. Sim turned it up another notch the next day however, and 2nd place Mark VDP could only manage 11.2% off the pace. Mark's twin Evan took third place in the classic. The age class winners were: Lukas Marshall U12 freestyle; Brendan Jones U12 classic; Callum Watson U14 ; Ben Sim U18; and Mark van der Ploeg U20. The under 16 is worth a few more words - Neil van der Ploeg and Lachlan Cann dead heated in the 5km freestyle, but Neil VDP got away to win by 40 seconds in the 5km classic.

    ACT Championship Results (the classic events)
    NSW Championship Results (the freestyle events)

     NSW Junior Sprint
    The NSW junior sprints were held at Perisher Valley in the afternoon on Saturday July 26 after the freestyle distance events. Almost the same loop was used as in the ACT Sprints from the previous weekend, however it was slightly longer and the corner into the finish straight was taken a little later to make a fairer turn into the finish lanes. All under 16 skiers skied just one lap, and the under 20 skiers skied two. The under 16 classes had enough skiers to run quarter-finals and semi-finals, however the under 20 classes went straight to a final.

    Ian Bottomley got the jump on Ben Sim in the under 20 men's final, and fought hard to hold onto the lead for a full lap. However when Sim put the pedal down up the hill the second time around Bottomley had nothing left in the tank and was dropped. Sim won, and Bottomley hung onto 2nd place ahead of Michael McCluskey and Paul Circosta.

    The under 20 women's final contained a controversial incident. Abbey Grimmer won the start and lead Sally Cunningham up over the top of the course. Cunningham closed on the downhill, and coming out of the bottom corner ran up the back of Grimmer and put her ski between her (Grimmer's) legs. In the ensuing commotion Grimmer took a tumble, and Cunningham skied away on the next lap to cross the finish line well ahead. Grimmer got back up and manged to stay in 2nd place ahead of Holly Middleton. While Cunningham was awarded first place, in these circumstances she should probably have been disqualified. While some incidental contact can be permitted in sprint events, if a skier coming from behind and attempting to overtake causes another skier to fall, the overtaking skier is at fault.

    In the under 16 men's final Neil van der Ploeg won ahead of Lachlan Cann, with Ewan Watson in third place. In the under 16 women's final Aimee Watson won ahead of Jo Windeat and d'Arcy Baxter.

    Full Results

    Rocky Valley Rush
    Moved back to the 27th of July to accommodate the National Champs at Falls Creek the week before the Hoppet, this year's Rocky Valley Rush was held on the first loop of the Kangaroo Hoppet. Ben Derrick and Paul Murray broke away from the pack on the flat out to the paralyser, and then Derrick dropped Murray soon after they started to climb. Daniel van der Ploeg reeled in and overtook Murray half way up to The Park, and as they headed out into the great wide open and round into the wind the gaps just started getting larger.Derrick went on to win by "a couple of minutes", and Dan VDP held onto 2nd place ahead of a closing Murray. Leon Spiller finished 4th, and Andrew Wynd 5th. The first woman was Clare-Louise Brumley, ahead of Belinda Phillips.

    Results coming soon

    July 22 - More Entry Forms

    National 10/15km Classic Championships - Mt Hotham
    Download Entry Form in word format for the races at Mt Hotham on August 3.

    National 5/10km Championships, Classic and Freestyle, Senior & Junior - Falls Creek
    Download Entry Form in word format for the races at Falls Creek from August 22-24. Note these races also incorporate the Victorian Junior Championships.

    July 21 - Sprint Action North & South

    ACT Sprint Championships
    There were rock solid tracks at Perisher Vallery for the ACT Sprint Championship on Saturday July 19. Organisers and the groomers put together a new variation of the sprint course in front of the Nordic Shelter - two laps with a flying downhill corner back up into the finish straight and about 1km all up. After all the final action it was an ACT double in the women's sprint, with KT Calder winning ahead of Sally Cunningham, while in the men's sprint it was NSW on top with Ben Sim winning ahead of a three-way lunge for second place.

    Calder was the fastest qualifier in the women's event, ahead of Cunningham, Amy Watson, and Camille Melvey. With only four contenders this went straight to the final. Cunningham was fastest off the blocks and first into the hill, but Calder took the lead before they hit to the top of the course and took a small break into the downhill, with Watson and Melvey already out of contact. However Cunningham's skis were fast, and she pulled back the gap around the bottom of the course and with momentum overtook Calder as they started to climb again. Calder rallied and took the lead back again, however just after they came past the finish line and onto the second lap and the race started to get exciting Cunningham tripped herself up and the race was all over. Calder ran out and easy winner, Cunningham took second and Watson took third.

    In the men's sprint Ben Sim was the fastest qualifier, Chris Darlington, Finn Marsland and Andrew Circosta all equal second 4 sec off the pace. The race went straight to semi-finals, with 4 skiers in the first and 5 in the second. In the first semi Nick Almoukov flew out of the start first ahead of Sim and Circosta, and lead all the way over the top of the course. Sim sat for a bit then took the lead from Almoukov, with Circosta already gapped behind. On the second lap Sim went well clear, and while for a moment it looked as though Almoukov was flagging and Circa might have a chance, he didn't. In the other semi Marsland lead up the first hill and managed to get a gap on Darlington who took a little time to get clear from Jake Roarty and Ewan Watson. Darlington pulled back the gap on the second lap, and when they hit the finish straight he skied into first place and Marsland eased up over the line.

    In the final Marsland got the jump on the NSW boys and lead all the way until after the downhill. Sim squeezed through on the inside as they started to climb again, and Darlo attempted to follow but couldn't quite get past. Into the final downhill it was Sim, Marsland, Darlington and Almoukov all in a line. As they turned and swept up into the final straight Sim put down his foot and won comfortably by about 10m. Marsland was fading and Darlo and Almoukov pulled up on either side as they approached the line, but neither had been practising their lunges and Marsland's foot pushed well forward to take 2nd place ahead of Darlington.

    Full Results now up

    Victorian Junior Sprint Championship
    Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club put together a new sprint course for the Victorian Sprint Championship events at Falls Creek on the weekend of July 19/20. The start/finish area was on the wide bench just below Panorama corner overlooking Rocky Valley Dam, with plenty of space for four wide lanes. The course went up around the corner and back towards the old SEC shed, before turning round a barrel and coming back down past the start. Then it hit the bottom of the hill, climbed part-way towards the Observation Deck corner and did another U-turn around a barrel, and then down and up into the finish straight. Great for spectators and provided some spectacular finishes.

    The juniors were up first on the Saturday and Esther Bottomley was the fastest qualifier and a comfortable winner in the girl's U20 final, ahead of Elisabeth Langrusten from Norway and Abbey Grimmer. Chloe McConville was the second fastest qualifier and cleaned up in the U16 final ahead of Jaffa Withers and Alice Bellingham. The boys U16 went the full three rounds before Neil van der Ploeg won from Lachlan Cann and Chris Cook. Nick Grimmer was the fastest qualifier overall, but was defeated in the U20 final by Daniel van der Ploeg in the closest race of the day.

    Dan VDP had made a break on the long downhill, and turned from the final barrel with maybe a 15m lead. However Grimmer pulled out an incredibly fast finish and drew level as they neared the line. Lunges all round and finally after close examination of the video the win was given to Dan by about 5cm.

    After the individual sprints it was time for the Victorian Interschool Sprint Relays. There were a few competitive unofficial teams in the mix, with such names as "Lachlan College" (with Lachlan Rodd, Lachlan Cann, and "Lachlan" Withers), and "Faster than MBSC" who were the fastest girls team in a tight finish with "Jessheim", but the official winners were Mt Beauty Secondary College in both the boys and girls events.

    Victorian Junior Sprint Results

    Interschool Relay Results

    Victorian Sprint Championship
    There was action aplenty in the Victorian Sprint Championship on July 20. With Australian Sprint Champion Paul Murray standing on the sidelines due to slight illness the men's field was wide open and full of aspiring finalists. Qualifying first however, and while there was no surprise in Esther Bottomley clocking the fastest women's time Ben Derrick was an unlikely pace-setter for the men. Quarter final action kicked off next, with some of the contenders falling by the wayside. Those knocked out included 2002 National Sprint finalist Gregor McLennan, U16 Victorian Champion Neil van der Ploeg, and Leon Spiller in a close heat with Duane Butcher and Tim Retchford. This set things up for some tight semi finals: Derrick, Finn Marsland, Dan van der Ploeg and Nick Grimmer on one side; and Butcher, Retchford, Andrew Mock (2nd fastest qualifier) and Mark van der Ploeg on the other.

    Grimmer won the start in the first semi, but Derrick was having none of that and lead around the first barrel. Dan VDP bridged a small gap up to Grimmer and Derrick on the long down and then moved up into second place, and in that order they turned around the bottom barrel for the final sprint. Derrick held onto first place while Grimmer turned the tables on VDP from the day before and grabbed the other final spot by half a foot. In the other semi final Retchford muscled his way ahead of training partner Mock on the first corner, and with Butcher and Mark VDP falling in line behind so it stayed until have way down the hill. Mark VDP had incredibly fast skis and ran from 4th into 1st just before the bottom turn-around, however the excitement was too much and he tripped himself up as they rounded the barrel. Mock then lead out for the sprint, with Retchford moving up on his right and Butcher on his left. Mock held on to claim the first spot, and Retchford thought he was next, but Butcher was unsighted on the other side of Mock and produced a much better lunge to take second.

    In the final Mock won the start but Grimmer took over and lead all the way to the top of the course. Derrick pushed his way into second just before barrel and so was the order on the first part of the downhill with Butcher bringing up the rear. Derrick worked his way into first, and all were in close contact down the bottom of the course when some rough tactics came into play. Butcher forced his way up into 2nd and Mock ran up the back of Grimmer, and at the end of it Derrick lead out around the barrel ahead of Butcher, Grimmer and Mock. Somehow Big Benny D held on and the "long distance man" claimed his first sprint title with an emphatic yah! over the line, Butcher took second with another good lunge, and Grimmer's lunge gave him 3rd place ahead of Mock. All in all some great examples of close sprint racing and dynamic finishes.

    In the women's event it went straight to semi-finals, with Esther Bottomley up against Abbey Grimmer, Kelly Hertzog and Robin Rodd, and Chloe McConville (2nd fastest qualifier) battling it out with Jaffa Withers, Robin McLennan, and Jacinta O'Neill. In both semis the places were settled by the first barrel, and Bottomley, Grimmer, McConville and O'Neill progressed to the main event. Bottomley cleared out in the final, and after some initial tussles McConville, O'Neill and Grimmer settled into places 2-4. And so it was, Bottomley kept her unbeaten sprint run intact, McConville at only 15 years old took her first placing in a senior event and O'Neill was third.

     Results now up.

    Cooma Open
    There was a great turn-out for the Cooma Open at Perisher Valley on Sunday July 20, the third and final of Cooma Ski Club's early season events. Over 60 skiers took part in the 10km freestyle event, which travelled around the 7.5km and 2.5km loops. It was a day for the new age of Australian cross country skiers, with 17-year old Ben Sim winning the men's event and 17-year old Sally Cunningham winning the womens.

    Sim picked up the pace early on, taking Chris Darlington with him but dropping Anthony Evans. Darlington lost contact later on the 7.5km loop, but brought it all back as the headed out for the 2.5. Sim managed to get a small break again as they came back on the 2.5km, and held on to win by only 2 seconds[correction! 12 seconds] from Darlington, Evans 3rd. Cunningham was well clear in the women's event from second placed Camille Melvey, who just made it in ahead of Carla Zijlstra-Evans.

    Results now up.

    July 16 - Entry Forms

    A heap of entry forms for ACT, NSW, and Australian Championship events are now available to download from the Snowsports ACT website. These include the ACT Sprint championships, the NSW and ACT Senior/Junior Championships, and the Austraian Sprint Championships. Entry Forms for the Snowy Mountains Classic are also available. You can follow the links through the cross country section on the site, or go directly to the Entry Form page.

    Entry forms for the Rocky Valley Rush, Sun Valley Ramble and Telemark Junior Classic Championship on July are available on the Telemark Nordic Ski Club website.

    July 15 - MISSING! The Otto Pinkas Trophy!

    Otto Pinkas was one of the pioneers of Australian cross country skiing back in the 1960s. In 1985 the Otto Pinkas Trophy was established to recognise the best junior cross country skiers in the country, and was awarded to the fastest male and female skiers in the Australian Junior Championships. The inaugural winners in 1985 were Mark Gray and Jenny Smith, and ever since the trophies have provided a who's who of Australia's rising cross country stars.

    So that's a brief background and this is the current situation: The girl's Otto Pinkas Trophy has gone missing! Somewhere in between KT Calder in 2000 and Rhiannon Palmer in 2001 the silver plate (pictured here) went walkabout. It would be a sad loss to the skiing community if this historic record of Australian skiing were to remain unfound. If you have seen this trophy in the last few years, if you have any information that could assist in its recovery, if you have a silver plate with Otto Pinkas and assorted other names engraved on it and you weren't sure what to do with it, please contact Finn Marsland on 0408 147940 or

    July 13 - Another Weekend of Racing

    High Plains Tour
    Organisers were set to run the High Plains Tour at Falls Creek on Saturday July 12 no matter snow conditions or weather, but luckily early morning snow falls helped to make a very successful event. A couple of rays of sunshine managed to sneak through before the start of the races at midday, however most competitors were just very happy that it wasn't raining. The women's 5km and 10km events were sent off first, unfortunately without the reigning High Plains Tour champion Belinda Phillips who missed the start by about 20 seconds. Phillips worked her way up through the pack to 2nd place in the first couple of kms, by which time Clare-Louise Brumley had a handy lead off the front by about 20-30 seconds. The gap stayed about the same for a long time into the second lap, and for a while it seemed that Phillips might have a chance of clawing her way back, but Brumley gave no quarter and in the end skied away to a 54s victory. Jacinta O'Neill skied a solid race to claim 3rd place. 15 year old Chloe McConville won the 5km event, with a close battle for 2nd place being won by Jaffa Withers ahead of Abbey Grimmer.

    The start of the men's 5km and 10km events saw Ben Derrick lead a long line of skiers up the High Plains road, minus Leon Spiller who lost a basket from his pole. The break came early as they turned up onto the McKay road, and only Daniel van der Ploeg was able to bridge the gap and follow. Tim Retchford lead the chasing group, but the time margin to the top 2 blew out rapidly up Aitkens as Big Benny D tried to stamp his authority on the race. Dan VDP was unshaken however, and took the lead back down the McKay road. A lap later and it was BBD's turn to hang on as Dan VDP put the hammer down up Aitkens. Placings swapped around in the pack behind, with Retchford dropping back and Mark van der Ploeg and Andrew Wynd moving up. BBD went to the front again with about 1km to go, with Dan VDP was hot on his heels. It was a tough finish line to come from behind, but Dan gave it his best shot and his lunge left him only about 10cm short: the win went to Derrick but the gauntlet has been thrown down. Mark VDP held on for 3rd place, 4 seconds ahead of Wynd. In the 5km event Neil van der Ploeg came up on top despite a fall, with Lachlann Cann 25s behind in 2nd and Paul van der Ploeg in 3rd. Yes, there were 6 van der Ploeg males in the race - Gerry VDP was the first in the over 50 in the 10km.

    Full results coming soon...

    NSW/ACT Pursuit
    The NSW/ACT Pursuit was held at Perisher Valley on July 12 2003. The race was held on the 2.5 km course in fresh wet snow. 5hrs of rain followed by 2 hrs wet snow preceded the event, and strong winds and driving sleet persisted during the race. Men skied 5km classic followed by 5km freestyle, women and juniors skied 2.5 km classic and 2.5 km freestyle.

    Despite a long changeover time of 51 seconds, the women's event was won by 2002 Australian Champion Katie Calder from the ACT in a time of 21:24, 44 seconds ahead of fellow ACT Academy of Sport skier Sally Cunningham. Leanne Laajoki made it an ACT treble, only 4 seconds ahead of NSW junior Amy Watson. Chris Darlington from NSW won the men's event in a time of 35:43, well clear from Ewan Watson and Warren MCCourt also from NSW.

    KT had this to say after the race: " Got the nice job of breaking in the snowdrift classic tracks too out the front. - now that's some good resistance training!! Hopefully it'll pay off soon.... The transition,...well maybe I should've just kept with the boot change." Readers from last year may remember KT did go for the boot change in this event in 2002.

    Full results are available!

     Victorian Interclub Relays
    Another 10cm of snow on Saturday afternoon and then a fine day set things up well for the Victorian Interclub Relays at Falls Creek on Sunday July 13. All events - men and women, under 16, under 18, open, masters (over 35), and grand masters (over 50) - were run concurrently, with the juniors and grand masters skiing 3 by 2.5km legs and the open and masters classes skiing 3 by 5km. The first leg was classic and the last two freestyle. Leon Spiller lead the pack out for Wangaratta Ski Club (WSC), and after three Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club (BNSC)teams did their best to trip each other up at the top of the course WSC grabbed a handy 30-40m lead. Tim Retchford and Nick Grimmer started to close the gap for BNSC #1 and #2, but then Lake Mountain Nordic Team (LMNT) with Andrew Wynd moved up into third place after Grimmer spent his bikkies trying to be the "domestique" for his club-mate. At the change Spiller delivered his team a handy break, with Retchford only just ahead of Wynd. Ben Derrick took up the race for WSC and set about building a lead for Cameron Dickinson waiting to ski the last leg. Duane Butcher went hard early on for BNSC, dropping Dave Hunt from LMNT, but then began to tire on the second lap. Derrick gave WSC a 55 second lead for the final leg, however with Daniel van der Ploeg skiing the anchor leg for BNSC it was always going to be tough for Dickinson. Finn Marsland overtook Hunt at the end of the 2nd leg to put BNSC #2 into 3rd place, but it didn't last long as Kevin Tory overtook Michal Trnka to put LMNT back in the podium position. Dan VDP went out hard, and despite plenty of cheering from WSC supporters Dickinson was caught half way around the second lap. BNSC went on to win, with WSC 2nd and LMNT 3rd.

    In the open women's event the main opposition to the LMNT team of Clare-Louise Brumley, Belinda Phillips, and Jacinta O'Neill came from the young make-up BNSC team of Jaffa Withers (U16), Abbey Grimmer (U18), and Esther Bottomley. However the three placegetters from Saturday's High Plains Tour were always going to be tough to beat, and after Brumley delivered a substantial lead on the first leg they never looked back. BNSC were comfortably second, with the LMNT #2 team of Robin McLennan, Penny Grose and Fiona McMillan taking third place. Without a copy of the results details of the other classes can't be describerd, however from memory Telemark NSC won the U18 girls, BNSC won the U16 girls and boys and U18 boys, Howmans Gap Allstars won the grand masters men, and WSC won the grand masters women. Hopefully there are no mistakes there. The overall winner of this round of the Victorian Interclub Competition was BNSC, with Telemark just pipping Wangaratta for 2nd place.

    Full results hopefully within the next few days.

    Cooma Clean Out The Waxbox
    Normally the first classic race of the season in NSW, this year the Cooma Clean Out The Waxbox on Sunday July 13 was sort of pre-empted by the classic leg of the duathlon the day before. In the men's 5km event Anthony Evans from the ACT was the victor, 38 seconds ahead of Chris Darlington from NSW, with NSW junior Ewan Watson third. (We tried to get more details ,but all that is known is that Anthony didn't ski on his rocket Fischer crowns, which were in transit up from Wodonga). The womens 5km classic event was won by ACT junior Sally Cunningham, over a minute ahead of NSW junior Amy Watson. Former Australian champion Camille Melvey, who retired from the national team last year, finished third.

    Full Results...

    Special Note: Anyone who attends a ski race during the season and would like to see their literary talents published on this site, please send your race reports/descriptions/summaries/gossip to .

    July 7 - Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs

    The racing season has opened north of the border as well. The Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs freestyle race was held at Perisher Valley on Sunday July 6. Chris Darlington won the men's 5km event ahead of Anthony Evans, with Nick Almoukov in 3rd place. Alina McMaster cleaned up the women's 5km event ahead of Sally Cunningham, with Carla Zijlstra-Evans in 3rd place. Lets give a special welcome back to the snow for Alina and Tom Landon Smith, former national team members who have returned south to Canberra after an extended visit to Mt Isa (working, not on holiday).

    "This skiing fast is hard work, I'm not used to it" said Alina, who together with Tom has been heavily involved in adventure sport racing since departing from the ski racing scene. "I wasn't sure how fast I could go without blowing up."

    "They didn't go fast enough at the start," said Tom, who did his best to take control of the race in the first 50m before working his way back to 4th place. "I thought we were out for a walk in the park."

    In the 2.5km event the first junior boy was Thomas Edmonson and the first junior girl Siobhan Jones. Full results...

    July 5 - Birkebeiner Classic + National Team Camp

    Birkebeiner Classic
    The first event of the Victorian Interclub Series, the Birkebeiner Duathlon was changed to a classic only event after sunny weather during the week turned a crucial 50m of the course to bare ground. After great work on Friday evening from Falls Creek snow groomer Peter Hertzog to cover up the gap a duathlon could easily have been run, however the organisers had already made the decision to go classic only and the word had passed around. There was some light snow on the morning of the race however the track stayed pretty consistent and firm throughout the races.

    Belinda Phillips won the women's 5km event by 44s ahead of 15-year old Chloe McConville, with Clare-Louise Brumley another 9 seconds back in 3rd place. Phillips broke away early on the first lap and though not threatened by other women had some battles with the junior boys who skied the same 5km event. Brumley looked strong and would likely have been a contender against Phillips except that she raced on crowns and lost ground every downhill. Under 16 junior Neil van der Ploeg was the first 5km skier across the line, 18 seconds ahead of brother Evan, with Lachlan Cann third one second ahead of Phillips.

    The men's 10km event proved to be quite tactical, interesting for both spectators and competitors. After the first 2.5km lap Andrew Mock lead a break away group of Nick Grimmer, Tim Retchford, Daniel van der Ploeg and Mark Raymond. Raymond was the first to drop off, mostly due to slower skis on the downhills. Retchford tried to make a break on the flats but Mock took control up the hills. Grimmer was the next to crack, losing contact with the bunch on the 3rd lap, and then over the top of the course Mock made a break on his own. Retchford dug deep and closed the gap at the start of the last lap with Dan VDP in tow, but Mock turned up the pace again out the back of the course and came away with a comfortable 23s victory. Dan VDP lead Retchford into the downhill finish but was outlunged for 2nd place.

    Full Results...

    National Team Camp
    A National Team Training Camp was held at Falls Creek from June 29 to July 5. Despite gloomy weather forecasts at the beginning of the camp the rain held off and snow conditions were pretty close to perfect for most of the week. Freezes every night saw the tracks hard and fast, the only possible complaint was that the groomers were out on the track too much - 3 times a day is possibly overkill when once in the late afternoon would probably have sufficed.

    Most of the week was spent working on technique and video analysis, with a sprint time trial and heats on Wednesday morning the only real intensity session. With the Birkebeiner junior camp joining in, over 35 skiers were timed over 100m and 1km, with the national team skiers then racing another three 1km events head to head. The time trial results from this session are included in the results section.

    During the week the National Team also had the chance to trial the new SPI-10 sport analysis unit from GPSports. This device records speed, heart-rate, position and altitude every second, and once downloaded to a computer can provide a complete analysis of a training session or race. For more information on the SPI-10 go to

    All up it was a fantastic week of training, special thanks to Falls Creek and Howmans Gap Alpine Centre for their support of the National Team, and to coaches Jean-Claude Legras and Allison McArdle for all their patience and hard work.

    June 27 - The Winter Begins

    Many readers out there will point out (and some have already) that the winter started 3 weeks ago. OK, so there was snow on the opening weekend, some resorts already were grooming tracks from June 7 and there have been several dumps of snow since then. It just takes some of us a little longer to get up to speed. From now on the XC Files will endeavour to get an news updated posted at least once a week. Competitions begin from the first weekend in July, and if race organisers are on the ball then results will appear in the Results section within a day or two.

    Ben Sim Breaks VO2 Protocol Record
    At the National Team Testing camp at the AIS from June 13-15 Ben Sim from NSW broke the record for the cross country skiing ski striding VO2 treadmill protocol. The record had been held jointly by Ben Sim, Ben Derrick, and Anthony Evans. Ben Sim went 34 minutes and 30 seconds before exhaustion, 30 seconds further than the previous best, with a VO2 of about 75ml/kg. Though others have had higher VO2 scores, the performance result also reflects efficiency and lactic tolerance. Most significantly Ben has achieved this result at the age of 17 with only a few years of hard training behind him - Anthony and Ben Derrick scored their best results in their mid-late 20ís.

    14 athletes took part in the camp under the supervision of senior AIS physiologist Dr David T Martin. Tests included the ski striding VO2 max test, a 2 minute test on the double-pole machine, and assorted field tests that have been consistently used since the national team started testing at the AIS in 1984.

    Also impressive on her debut testing camp was 15 year old Chloe McConville from Victoria, who set a new record for women on the 2-minute double-pole test. Most other athletes improved on their previous tests, including number 1 ranked woman KT Calder smashing her previous best time on the treadmill by 1:15 to reach a new PB of 28:00 minutes. Leanne Laajoki fell 10 seconds short of the women's record of 30:00 minutes, which she set herself back in 2000.

    The next national team camp is on-snow at Falls Creek in the first week of July.

    Images from the 2003 Australian Winter

Daniel van der Ploeg leads Ben Sim in 30km Championship
Perisher Valley, August 2003

    KT Calder leads Clare-Louise Brumley and Belinda Phillips
    Australian 15km Champs, Perisher Vallery, August 2003

Australian Sprints 2003 - Men's Podium
Tim Retchford, Ben Sim, and Andrew Mock

Ian Bottomley leading Ben Sim and Leon Spiller (but not for much longer)
ACT Sprint Relays, Perisher Valley, August 2003

Esther Bottomley, 2003 Australian Sprint Champion
Perisher Valley, August 2003

Ben Sim, Nick Almoukov, & Chris Darlington
2002 KAC Cross Country Classic

Clare-Louise Brumley, 2003 Australian 10km Classic Champion
Training at Falls Creek in July

Abbey Grimmer in NSW Sprint Championships,
Perisher Valley July 2003

Sally Cunningham, NSW Junior Sprints, Perisher Valley July 2003

The lunges for places 2-4 at the ACT Sprint Champs
(Darlington closest to camera, then Marsland, Almoukov far side)

50m to go, final of Victorian Sprint Championships, July 2003

Sally Cunnigham and KT Calder, ACT Sprint Championships, July 2003

Ben Sim with Chris Darlington behind, ACT Sprint Championships, July 2003

Kelly Hertzog, Julia Mitas, and Alice Bellingham, with Bill Little, July 2003

Lachlan Cann, Victorian Junior Sprints, July 03

Lynn-Maree Cranage (now Cullen) in 1988 with the Otto Pinkas Trophy

Start of Birkebeiner Classic 5km, July 2003

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