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Winter News 2004
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July 4 - Competition Season Underway
July 8 - Paddy Pallin Junior
July 11 - Murray, Calder Win Classic Sprint
July 19 - Victorian Junior Championship
July 23 - Race Entry Forms
July 26 - Sim & Calder Win ACT/NSW Champs
July 28 - Numbers Up for Lake Mountain M-S
August 1 - Sim & Calder Win Again
August 8 - Australian Sprint Championships
August 13 - KAC and NordiX
August 14 - Australian "Long Distance" Championships
August 17 - Results Update
August 19 - Stirling Silver
August 22 - Australian Championship Finale
August 31 - Kangaroo Hoppet
September 1 - Falls Creek Supports National Team
September 5 - Australian Junior Championships
September 16 - Provisional Rankings and Teams
September 17 - XC International Youth Camp
September 20 - Aus NordiX DVD + SubaruPrimalQuest
September 23 - Australian World Record Attempt
September 24 - Australian World Record!
In Memoriam - Nigel Aylott

Spring News 2004


Paul Murray after his 100m World Record of 12.48
Falls Creek, 24 September 2004

2004 Race Calendar
2004 Race Results
2004 Entry Forms

Australian Team
2004/2005 Selection Policy
2003/2004 Teams
Athlete Profiles
2004 Distance Rankings
2004 Sprint Rankings

Australian Resorts
Falls Creek
Lake Mountain
Mt Hotham

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Winter 2004 Updates

In Memoriam - Nigel Aylott

It is with regret that we have to report that Australian adventure racing athlete Nigel Aylott has died after suffering fatal head injuries in an accident on September 21 during the Subaru Primal Quest in the north-west USA. Nigel was a member of Team AROC, which was leading the event at the time. Many Australian cross country skiers will know Nigel from his participation in a multitude of different endurance sports and events; he was a friend to many and will be sorely missed.

September 24 - Australian World Record!

Australian Cross Country Skiing Sprint Champion Paul Murray has broken the cross country skiing 100m world record. Murray set a new world best time of 12.48 seconds at approximately 8:15AM this morning at Falls Creek in north-eastern Victoria. The previous record of 12.76 seconds was held by Andrew Newell of the USA.

The world record attempt was prompted by extremely fast snow conditions at Falls Creek over the past few weeks. "Spring snow", that melts in the sun during the day and freezes overnight is rock solid early in the morning. The snow reaches its peak speed just as it starts to lose that hard edge.

"This was our first attempt at the 100m record so we weren't really sure how close we would go," said National Team Coach Finn Marsland. "However when we got up to Falls Creek just before 7 AM this morning and saw how fast the snow was, we knew we would be in with a chance."

Interest in the cross country skiing 100m record has risen greatly in the last few years with the growth of sprint racing. In the past year teams from the USA, Norway, and Finland have all made attempts, with the US Ski Team setting the previous benchmarks at Soldier Hollow in Utah last December. Performed using a standing start on a straight 100m track, the record is likely to drop further in the near future as other nations make attempts in fast snow conditions.

Murray broke Newell's time by 4 hundredths of a second on his first attempt, but it was his second attempt 10 minutes later that smashed it by nearly 3 tenths. Other members of the Australian team also made attempts, with the next best time 12.92 seconds by Australian Junior Sprint Champion Ian Bottomley.

"That was the fastest snow I've ever skied on," said Murray. "I know that there are other guys around the world who could have gone faster in these conditions, but I'm stoked. My time is now on the board and it's up to them to get out there and beat it."

The 27-year-old lives in Mt Beauty during the Australian winter but spends most of the year training with his Swedish racing club in Borlange in Sweden. His best World Cup result in the last season was only 38th, however he showed glimpses of this world record form in Sweden in March this year in similar fast conditions at the Sweden Cup event in Landvetter. On that occasion Murray qualified 4th fastest in the 1km time trial, ahead of the previous weekend's World Cup winner Harvaard Bjerkeli of Norway, and also ahead of Swedish multiple World Cup finalist Anders Hogberg.

The course distance, gradient and the timing procedure was overseen by FIS TD Allan Marsland, event organiser for the Kangaroo Hoppet. While everything was in order, (the track had a slight uphill gradient and there was a very slight head-wind), there may be some conjecture about the starting procedure used.

"The USA may dispute our claim because we used a timing wand, while they used a timing gun as used in running track events," said Marsland. "However other countries have also used timing wands for their 100m attempts, and it is used for all time trial events on World Cup. The fact that the record was broken by nearly 3 tenths of a second leaves no doubt in my mind that this is the fastest recorded 100m effort."

Other skiers involved in the 100m attempt included Leon Spiller and Simon Flower, both from Mt Beauty. Murray and other Australian Team members will continue to train in Falls Creek and for the next month or so, before heading to Europe in November for the start of the 2004-2005 international season.

September 23 - Australian World Record Attempt

Australian cross country skiers are taking a crack at the 100m world record tomorrow September 24 at Falls Creek. Taking advantage of great snow cover and the early morning freezes that characterise "spring skiing", many Australian Team members have been getting good long training sessions across the Bogong High Plains. It is these hard fast conditions that have prompted this world record attempt.

"Interest in the cross country skiing 100m record has risen greatly in the last few years with the growth of sprint racing," said National Team Coach Finn Marsland. "Several nations have started holding 100m national championships, and world record attempts are becoming more frequent. If conditions are as fast as they have been in the last week then we will have a chance."

The current 100m world records for men and women are claimed by the USA, after the US ski team staged an attempt last December. Andrew Newell broke the men's record with the time of 12.76 seconds, while team-mate Wendy Wagner set the fastest time for women at 14.87. The records had previously been held by members of the Norwegian team.

The Australian attempt will be held at the back of the Ruined Castle area within the Falls Creek Alpine Resort, with Mt McKay as a spectacular back-drop. The distance and gradient (the course must be flat or slightly uphill) will be verified by a FIS Technical Delegate, who will also oversee the starting and timing procedures. The only question mark is over the weather. Some snow has been forecast, and any new snow will certainly slow down the track. If the conditions are unfavourable then another attempt may be made early next week.

The main contender for the record is the current National Sprint Champion Paul Murray, who was the only Australia cross country skier to compete regularly on World Cup last season. Murray is a sprint specialist, and has performed well over short distances against the top Swedish sprinters during sprint training sessions. Others skiers involved in the attempt will include Australian Junior Team members Ian Bottomley, Neil van der Ploeg, and Simon Flower, all from the local Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club.

September 20 - Subaru Primal Quest + Aus NordiX DVD

Subaru Primal Quest
The Subaru Primal Quest is one of the world's top adventure races, with the 2004 event near Seattle in the USA featuring 60 teams competing over 5 continuous days for prize money of US $250,000. Former Australian XC Team members Tom Landon-Smith and Alina McMaster are the drivers behind Team AROC, which finished 2nd in the 2003 event, and are back again to try to cover the costs of sending their 4-person team and support crew to the USA.

The 2004 event started in September 19 - 12 hours into the race Team AROC were in the lead followed closely by Team Montrail (which while nominally a USA team has three Australian residents in the team). For race updates and live GPS tracking, go to the race website at:

Australian Nordic X DVD
Back in August Ben Sim and Sally Cunningham cleaned up the first Australia Nordic X event at Perisher Valley. Nordic X events feature four skiers competing head-to-head down a skier cross course on xc racing gear then back up the hill again. Local TV station Snowy Mountains TV covered the event at Perisher Valley and have made a short DVD (2-3 minutes) which is available for sale. Anyone interested in a copy can email Peter Maberley at the following address:
Tel 0418 485 351
Send money order $40 to -
SMTV PO Box 513 Jindabyne 2627

September 17 - XC International Youth Camp

The International World Championship Youth Camp is a new initiative by FIS and the organising committee of the 2005 World Championships in Oberstdorf. During the World Championships 84 junior cross country skiers from around the world between the ages of 16-18 will be given the opportunity to attend the event and take part in associated social events. All accommodation and living expenses will be paid for each person, as well as transport costs from the Munich international airport, and supervision will be provided. The Youth Camp will be broken up into two weeks, February 14-20 and February 21-28, with 42 athletes in each week. Each participating country has been invited to send two athletes, although additional places may also be available if some countries do not fill their quota.

Any Australian junior cross country skier who is between the ages of 16-18 and a member of their state association is encouraged to send an expression of interest by October 1 to Finn Marsland by email to marslandf or by phone to 0408 147940. Please note that each successful applicant will need to pay for their own airfare from Australia to Munich. FIS will notify of successful applications by December 15.

September 16 - Provisional Rankings and Teams

Provisional National Rankings for Sprint and Distance have now been calculated and posted on this website. If anyone thinks they have found an error please report it to the editor via the link at the bottom of this page. Provisional National Teams for 2004-2005 have also been posted - please note that these provisional teams include all skiers who met the FIS point or National Ranking qualification standards. Discretionary selections to the team are still to be confimed and selection is also subject to each athlete accepting the invitation and the requirements of team membership.

2004 Distance Rankings
2004 Sprint Rankings
2004/2005 National Teams

September 5 - Australian Junior Championship

The 2004 Australian Junior Championships for cross country skiing were held this weekend September 4-5 at Falls Creek in north-east Victoria. These were the final championship events of the season, and also selection races for the Australian Junior Team. The races were organised by the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club on behalf of the Victorian Snowsports Association and Ski & Snowboard Australia.

New dry snow is rare in September and yet that's what greeted skiers in the morning for the freestyle races on Saturday. Freshly groomed before the start, tracks were firm and ready for fast times. The fastest skier on the day was 19-year-old Ben Sim from Cooma. Sim skied the 10km freestyle in a rocketing 24'19", clear from second placed Mark van der Ploeg from Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club by 1'48. Van der Ploeg's younger brother Neil was third 2'30" off the pace. In the women's 5km freestyle 17-year-old Aimee Watson from Cooma claimed the honours, 39" ahead of Sally Cunningham from the ACT and 1'06 ahead of third placed Jaffa Withers from Bright.

In the classic races on Sunday the same names filled the top of the open junior podium with one small variation. Evan van der Ploeg replaced twin brother Mark as runner-up in the 10km classic, 1'54" behind Ben Sim. Neil van der Ploeg was in the running early on but faded to third place on the last lap. Aimee Watson cleaned up the women's 5km classic by 1'16", with Sally Cunningham and Jaffa Withers rounding out the podium again.

Both overall winners Sim and Watson are on scholarships with the NSW Institute of Sport, coached by Russian born NSWIS coach Nick Almoukov from Berridale. Sim is already qualified for the both the 2005 World Championships in Germany and the 2005 World Junior Championships in Finland. Watson competed in the 2004 World Junior Championships in Norway along with twin brother Ewan, however the 2005 event clashes with the start of Year 12 studies and the pair will likely wait until 2006 to compete in the World Junior Championships again.

Other combined class winners: Siobhan Jones and Lukas Marshall both from NSW in the U12 class; Juliette Booth from MLC and Ben Pascall from Telemark Nordic Ski Club in the U14 class; Simon Flower and Jaffa Withers both from BNSC in the U16 class; Neil van der Ploeg and Aimee Watson in the U18 class; and Ben Sim and Sally Cunningham in the U20 class.

Freestyle Results - Classic Results

September 1 - Falls Creek Supports National Team

Falls Creek is to become the new National Team Training Centre for cross country skiing. The partnership was announced during the flower ceremony for the Kangaroo Hoppet on Saturday August 28 by the Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites. The deal will see Falls Creek inject a significant amount of funding into the national team over the next three years, which as well as creating a focus for the team during the Australian winter will help to provide much needed financial support to the World Cup and World Championship teams.

While the finer details of the NTTC are still to be finalised, the intention is that the National Team Coach and a new Assistant Coach will be based at Falls Creek for the entire winter conducting training camps and working on-snow with national team members. The national team will also work with Falls Creek to further develop cross country skiing facilities and promote the sport. Developments in the pipeline include night skiing and a cross country terrain park, with sections of the latter being trialled this month. Promotion of cross country skiing to schools will be targetted in the lead up to the 2005 Australian winter, with the aim of increasing the grass-roots base that eventually feeds skiers into the national team.

It is important to note that development programs and national level competitions will continue to be run at all the other cross country skiing resorts in Victoria and NSW. Club programs and elite programs such as the NSWIS cross country program and Team Lake Mountain are essential components of the national athlete development pathway. The NTTC at Falls Creek will help to bring all the best skiers in the country together as they prepare to reach new levels of international performances overseas.

Further information about the NTTC can be obtained from the National Team Coach Finn Marsland on 0408 147940 or marslandf

Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites with Australian Team members at announcement of Falls Creek National Team Training Centre - August 2004

August 31 - Kangaroo Hoppet

Extract from the press release from the Kangaroo Hoppet last Saturday August 28:

Conditions were just about perfect today for the 2004 Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek in North-East Victoria. In a day of exciting racing and close finishes local skier Ben Derrick from Falls Creek smashed the previous course record, completing the 42km event in the smoking time of 1:35:10. The women's 42km event came down to a sprint, with Templestowe's Clare-Louise Brumley winning over KT Calder from Canberra. 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.

After a very warm week a good freeze overnight set the track hard and fast, and in stark contrast to 2003's blizzard conditions the only weather protection required was some good sun-block. About 1000 skiers from over 20 nations took part in the 42km, 21km, and 7km distances, including the Deputy Premier of Victoria and Minister for Environment John Thwaites, who after officially launching the start of the 42km event skied in the 7km.

A large pack of eight skiers broke away from the field early on in the 42km event, and was still intact at the 10km mark when they hit the "Paralyser", the first major climb. Former Finnish 50km champion Sami Pietilae made a decisive move as they started into the climb, and only 31-year-old Derrick and 19-year-old NSW Institute of Sport skier Ben Sim were able to follow. Ironically Pietilae was the next to crack as Derrick then Sim made successive attacks as they came up on top of the Bogong High Plains. The two leaders shared the lead until the 38km mark when Derrick, sensing Sim starting to tire, made a concerted effort to break clear. Sim was unable to respond and Derrick went on to win by 26 seconds. Pietilae skied a solo race for third place, 3 minutes off the pace, with Mt Beauty's Paul Murray finishing in fourth.

For most of the women's 42km event you could have thrown a blanket over the top two skiers, who had broken away from the rest of the women soon after the start. The lead swapped back and forth between 26-year-old Brumley and 23-year-old Calder for most of the race, and many of the top men were unable to follow their pace. Calder managed to break clear on the last climb before Wallace's Hut, but Brumley bridged the gap and the two were together again for the last 5km home. The pace picked up as they came off the Rocky Valley Dam wall and Brumley lead over the last hill into the finish straight. Making a final effort to make up ground Calder tripped herself up, and the victory was Brumley's. Three-time Hoppet winner Belinda Phillips of Falls Creek was third, with Sydney's Camille Melvey in fourth place off the podium for the first time in 9 years.

In the other events there were some close results. Local Mt Beauty junior Mark van der Ploeg outsprinted 1997 Kangaroo Hoppet winner Paul Gray for line honours in the 21km Australian Birkebeiner, with Ian Bottomley from Mt Beauty third only 25 seconds back. Esther Bottomley was the first woman in the Birke, ahead of Sally Cunningham from the ACT and Sonomi Tomogane from Japan. In the 7km Joey Hoppet another local junior Simon Flower won by 25 seconds from Callum Watson from NSW, with Chris Cook from Peninsula 13 seconds further back in third. Only 5 seconds separated the first two girls in the 7km, Chloe McConville from Myrtleford and Jaffa Withers from Bright; d'Arcy Baxter from Berridale taking third place.

Full results available via the Kangaroo Hoppet website.

August 22 - Australian Championship Finale

The 2004 Australian Championships for cross country skiing finished up this weekend at Perisher Valley in NSW with two 5km events for women and two 10km events for men. While Ben Derrick from the Wangaratta Ski Club made a clean sweep of the weekend, winning both of the men's 10km events, the women's 5km events were split between Clare-Louise Brumley from Templestowe and Katherine Calder from Canberra. The races were part of the Australia New Zealand Cup series, which has one remaining event; the Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek next Saturday August 28.

The weather closed in at the start of the weekend Perisher Valley to provide for difficult waxing conditions for the classic events on Saturday, however the wind eased up and the sun occasionally showed its face during the freestyle events on Sunday.

Derrick was unstoppable in the 10km classic, establishing a lead right from the start and winning the event 1'27" ahead of second placed Paul Murray from Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club. Leon Spiller from WSC surprised all by holding 2nd place after the first 5km, however hit the wall badly half way round the second lap and slumped to 5th. Murray was the fastest finisher, moving up into 2nd place past NSWIS team-mates Chris Darlington and Ben Sim.

Brumley delivered Calder's first defeat of the season in the 5km classic, winning convincingly by 41 seconds. This was only the second race for the season from the 2003 reigning champion, who struggled early on in the season with bronchitis. Third place in the classic went to Belinda Phillips from Falls Creek ahead of Camille Melvey from Sydney, with Leanne Laajoki from Canberra rounding out the top five.

In the 10km freestyle Derrick faced stiffer competition from Murray and Sami Pietilae from Finland. Pietilae and Murray were within ~15 seconds of Derrick at about the 4km mark, but Pietilae felt the affects of altititude in his first race since arriving in Australia a week ago and dropped back to third. Murray started to fade mid-way on the second lap but fought on to the finish to take second place only 48 seconds behind Derrick. Darlington just clinched 4th place 3 seconds ahead of Andrew Wynd from Team Lake Mountain.

Calder was out for revenge in the 5km freestyle, and had the perfect start draw 30 seconds behind Brumley. With Brumley in sight almost the entire race Calder slowly reeled her in, and while unable to completely bridge the gap crossed the line only 10 seconds behind. to take the victory. Melvey finished third, with NSWIS junior Aimee Watson getting up over BNSC's Esther Bottomley for 4th by just 3 seconds.

With one round remaining in the 2004 Australia New Zealand Cup Calder is unassailable, a full 180 points clear from second placed Phillips. In the men's rankings Ben Derrick has jumped into a 20 point lead ahead of Murray, with Sim another 29 points back in third.

Results are available for the 5/10km Classic events, the 5/10km Freestyle results will be available soon.

Belinda Phillips in action at Australian Championships
Perisher Valley, August 2004
Photo by Ben Torres

August 19 - Stirling Silver

A report from the organisers of the Stirling Silver Ski Race at Mt Stirling on August 14:

"An absolutely fantastic race. It's obvious the race organisers put a lot of time into getting the course prepared properly. For those who raced, I think they were very grateful. The organisers did a great job." Third placed Tim Fryer was certainly happy with last Saturday's revamped Stirling Silver cross country ski race.

Held on one of coldest days this winter, the race signalled a revival for cross country racing at Mt Stirling, making up for some perceived poor course selection of previous years. The course consisted entirely of easy trails, except for the Lyrebird Trail which is rated as "a little more challenging" - almost a "figure of 8". Two courses of five or fifteen kilometres were offered.

Race coordinator Prue Dobbin said "The Ski Patrol and I had a good hard think about what people wanted - an easy undulating course, not too many hills, perfect grooming and spectator vantages. This year we delivered. Mick Stapleton and the Ski Patrol did a fantastic job, working night and day to prepare the course to perfection". All race proceedings were on time, there was a shelter and fire to warm finishers, a sausage sizzle and "almost sterling sliver" plates for the winners.

Race action was exciting in the fifteen kilometre event with Lake Mountain skier Robert Curtis blitzing from start to finish, hotly pursued by Kevin Tory and Tim Fryer. Robert explained "I've heard Kevin Tory has won this race before, so I've come to upset him. Racing at Mt. Stirling is good. This is where I learned to ski." Angelika Deitrich won the women's event.

Sixteen year old local skier Colin Godber held onto his lead in the five kilometre event, closely followed by twelve year old hotshot Giles Richardson. Giles added "It was an awesome course."

Five year old Mardi Stapleton, won the women's five kilometre event. "I had fun." Asked if she would win gold at a future winter Olympics, Mardi replied "I'm not quite sure."

A big thank you to the race sponsors included the Mt Buller/Mt Stirling ARMB, Stirling Experience (who provided a sausage sizzle) and Mansfield businesses Pullins Ski Hire (donating a ski tune), Marks IGA Supermarket, Mansfield Hotel, Reddrops Foodworks Supermarket and Mansfield Regional Produce Store.

Second place getter and Mt Stirling devotee Kevin Tory said "We had a great day. Excellent course and great grooming. It was a pity there were not a few more hundred people to enjoy it". Well there is always next year.

Results have already been posted.

August 17 - Results Update

Some recent additions to the 2004 Race Result section: Results or links to results have been added for the following earlier races: The Cabramurra Tour from July 31; The Boonoona Open from August 8; Lake Mountain Mini Series 3 from August 8, the St Phillack & Tullicoutty Cup from August 15, and the Victorian Sprint Championship and Victorian Sprint Relay Championship from August 15. [Plus more added on August 18 - Cooma Open from July 18, and Stirling Silver from August 14!]

In brief from the Victorian Sprint Championships: Ben Derrick posted the fastest qualifying time for the men, and came up in the A-Final against Nick Grimmer, Duane Butcher and Ian Bottomley - all finalists from the national sprint champs at Lake Mountain the weekend before. Grimmer won the final ahead of Derrick. Esther Bottomley was the fastest female qualifier and winner of the A-Final, ahead of Belinda Phillips in both. Chris Cook won the Under 16 boys final after fastest qualifier Simon Flower opted to ski in the open class. Jaffa Withers won the Under 16 girl's final.

From the St Phillack & Tullicouty Cups: Kevin Tory was the winner in the St Phillack 8km with Janetta Davis the first woman. In the Tullicoutty Cup 5km the winners were Justin McMahon and Sue Munro. Giles Richardson was the first in the junior event.

From the Boonoona Open: Nick Almoukov and Aimee Watson won the open classic events, while Chris Darlington and Camille Melvey won the open freestyle events.

From the Lake Mountain Mini Series #3: About 100 entrants made this the biggest junior race of the season so far. Ross Hamilton and Penny Hoskin won in the Under 18 classes, Giles Richardson and Alicia Booth won the Under 14 classes, Dion Richardson and Clare Butler won the Under 10 classes, and Matilda Bessant and Gabe Holmes won the Under 6.

August 14 - Australian "Long Distance" Championship

As a result of heavy snowfalls and difficulties grooming the track, the distances of the scheduled Australian 15/30km Championship events were reduced to 12km for women and 18km for men at Perisher Valley today. Combined with the citizen events of the Snowy Mountains Classic, it was interesting racing all on one 3km loop In the mens' 18km freestyle event Ben Derrick from the Wangaratta Ski Club claimed his first Australian title of the season by 17 seconds ahead of Ben Sim from Cooma, while KT Calder from Canberra notched up her third title for 2004 by just 3 seconds in the women's 12km freestyle, after a close battle with Clare-Louise Brumley from Templestowe.

Derrick and Sim picked the pace up right from the start and split the field up on the first 3km loop. Chris Darlington and Paul Murray worked together in 3rd and 4th place while a fluctuating group of Andrew Circosta, Nick Almoukov, Anthony Evans, Leon Spiller, and James Rickard split the next 5 placings in various combinations over the rest of the race. Robert Fischer from Germany was also in this group but pulled out after the sole broke away from his ski-boot. Derrick managed a small 10 second break on Sim after the second lap with faster skis on the downhills, but Sim kept working hard and kept the gap around 15 seconds or so for the next two laps. On the 5th lap Derrick extended his lead to over 30 seconds, only to have Sim pull it back to under 20 seconds on the last lap. Murray kicked away from Darlington for third place, while Almoukov outsprinted Spiller for 5th.

Calder and Brumley also went clear of the rest of the field soon after the start, leaving Belinda Phillips on her own in 3rd place and Camille Melvey in 4th. The two leaders seemed to be never more than about 10m apart for the entire race. Brumley lead most of the time, allowing Calder in front for only part of one lap before taking the lead again. With 300m to go Calder pulled out to overtake and edged past as they hit the last uphill towards the finish, holding on to win by 3 seconds. Phillips was over 3 minutes back in third place, with Melvey taking fourth after a wrong turn just before the finish. NSW junior Aimee Watson took 5th place, with Jane Scheer the first un-registered skier in 6th place.

In the other distances and classes: Carla Zijlstra-Evans was the first woman in the 18km Snowy Mountains Classic, Ewan Watson was the first man in the 12km Guthrie Gallop, d'Arcy Baxter was the first woman and Callum Watson the first man in the 6km event.

Limited provisional results are up now, more to come...? Sometime.

Ken Baxter and Adam "Bolt" Forsdyke
Snowy Mountains Classic, August 2004
Photo by Warren Feakes

August 13 - KAC and NordiX

Solar Springs KAC
The 2004 Solar Springs KAC cross country race from Perisher Valley to Charlotte's Pass was held on Wednesday August 11. The only surprise was the weather (only a slight head-wind, compared to torrential rain in 2003) as Ben Sim and KT Calder repeated their winning performances from 2003. Sim broke away solo soon after the start, leaving a chasing pack that whittled down to his NSW team-mates Chris Darlington and Nick Almoukov, and international skiers Gaber Lah from Slovenia and Robert Fischer from Germany. While Sim went on to record his 4th straight KAC victory, Darlo did most of the work into the wind only to have Lah sprint past in the closing stages to take second place. Calder finished in 9th place overall. Numbers were good, not exactly sure how many entrants but someone will come up with a figure soon. A great event, free food and drinks and lots of prizes afterwards seems to go down well. Look for full results on the KAC website.

A new event in Europe in the past few years, the NordiX is a skier-cross type event on cross country skis including uphills as well. The first trial of this event in Australia took place near the Piper T-bar between Perisher Valley and Smiggins Holes on August 12. Though only a small field turned up, Barney and the crew from Perisher Blue did a great job putting a challenging course together using part of a boarder-cross course and a 150m uphill finish. Four skiers head-head in each heat, starting with quarter-finals for the men. Ben Sim won the final, coming from behind after the final corner to overtake Finn Marsland in the uphill sprint to the line. Sally Cunningham won the women's final, with such form on the berms and jumps that the guys were probably lucky she was in a different event. Look soon for the video production from Snowy Mountains Television. A very successful trial event, possibly a move to Front Valley for 2005....?

August 8 - Australian Sprint Championships

Katherine Calder from Canberra has made it two from two in the Australia New Zealand Cup for Cross Country Skiing, winning the Australian Sprint Championships at Lake Mountain on August 7. Paul Murray from the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club won the men's event, reclaiming the title that he lost in 2003. The event was organised by the Mt Bullfight Ski Club and the Lake Mountain Alpine Resort on behalf of Ski & Snowboard Australia and the Victorian Snowsports Association.

Snowfalls late on Friday eased up to provide good conditions for racing. The course was a 850 loop starting and finishing in the Helicopter Flat area. Time trials were held in Open and U16 classes, with U20 skiers competing in the Open class. All U20 skiers who qualified for the top 16 raced in the Open finals, with the next best U20 men competing in separate semi-finals.

Calder posted the fastest qualifying time for the women, just 1 second ahead of the 2000-2003 Australian Sprint Champion Esther Bottomley from BNSC. Both skiers progressed though the rounds comfortably before meeting face to face in the A-final, along with Chloe McConville from the Telemark Nordic Ski Club and Sally Cunningham from Canberra. Bottomley was fastest out of the start and lead for the first 400m. Winding over the top of the course Calder overtook, and rounding the corner into the stadium area had 20m on Bottomley. Bottomley tried hard in the finish straight but Calder won her second Australian title of the season and first ever sprint title. The battle for third place and also for the junior sprint title was won by McConville ahead of Cunningham.

In the men's qualifying round Murray showed the form that took him to top 10 in the 2004 Swedish Sprint Cup, finishing over 5 seconds clear of Andrew Mock from Team Lake Mountain and 2003 Australian Sprint Champion Ben Sim from Cooma and NSWIS. Unfortunately Mock bowed out of the running in the quarter-finals after a collision with Leon Spiller from the Wangaratta Ski Club. The A-final had 5 competitors after an obstruction saw three skiers progress from the second semi-final; Murray and Nick Grimmer from Birkebeiner were joined by Sim, Duane Butcher from BNSC, and the surprise packet of the day Ian Bottomley from BNSC. Murray and Bottomley were fastest out of the start, then Murray managed a break over the top of the course as Bottomley started to tire and held up the rest of the field. Murray went on to win easily, while Grimmer held off Butcher in the straight to claim 2nd place. Bottomley's 4th place delivered him the junior sprint title ahead of Sim. The B-final was won by Chris Darlington from NSWIS.

Simon Flower from BNSC won the U16 men's A-final, with Chris Cook from BNSC just pipping Callum Watson from the NSW Ski Team for second. In the U16 women's A-final Jaffa Wither from BNSC won ahead of d'Arcy Baxter from the NSW Ski Team and Georgia Merrit from Ivanhoe.

In the Australian Interstate Sprint Relay Championships in the afternoon Victorians Paul Murray and Ian Bottomley combined to win in a close finish ahead of the NSW team of Chris Darlington and Ben Sim. The Victorian/Team Lake Mountain team of Andrew Mock and Tim Retchford took third. In the women's Sprint Relay the lead swapped back and forth between the ACT team of KT Calder and Sally Cunningham and the Victorian team of Esther Bottomley and Chloe McConville, with Calder coming from behind Bottomley on the last lap to take victory. Third place went to the NSW (all-junior) team of Aimee Watson and d'Arcy Baxter.

Full Results are up.

Andrew Mock in qualifying time trial
2004 Australian Sprint Championships, Lake Mountain
Photo by Kevin Tory

Bullfight Charge, August 8
Paul Murray backed up after his win in the Australian Sprint Championship to win the 2004 Bullfight Charge ahead of Ben Sim. Tim Retchford lead the train for the first couple of kilometres before Murray and Sim broke clear with Andrew Wynd and Mark van der Ploeg. Sim had fought back up to the front after his grip came clear off his pole in the start. One of the favourites Andrew Mock was already out of contention after being tripped up soon after the start and having a pole broken for good measure. Van der Ploeg was dropped then Wynd, with the lead swapping between Sim and Murray. In the last 500m Murray kicked and dropped Sim, going on to win by about 20m. Belinda Phillips was the first woman across the line. There was a stack of people in both this event and the Lake Mountain Mini Series. results for both these events coming soon.

August 1 - Sim & Calder Win Again

Australian 10/15km Championships
Katherine Calder from Canberra and Ben Sim from Cooma won the 2004 Australian 10km and 15km Classic Championship at Mt Hotham today August 1. The event was the first in the 2004 Australian New Zealand Cup series, which concludes with the Kangaroo Hoppet international ski marathon at the end of August. With plenty of snow and a good freeze overnight the tracks were in perfect condition. The races were held in interval start format, where each competitor races against the clock in 30 second intervals. The event was organised by the Wangaratta Ski Club, on behalf of the Victorian Snowsports Association and Skiing Australia Cross Country.

Calder started strong in the 10km classic and by the 2.5km mark it was clear that no-one was going to come close. The 23 year old ACT Acadamy of Sport athlete won in the time of 31'34.9", over 3 ½ minutes clear of the rest of the field. Leanne Laajoki, also from Canberra, made it an ACT double, claiming second place just 7 seconds ahead of Victorian Belinda Phillips. Junior skiers Aimee Watson from NSW and Chloe McConville from Victoria started fast and were in the running for podium places after the first 5km lap, however faded to 4th and 6th place respectively.

In the first 2.5km of the men's 15km classic it was close between the two Bens - Sim and Ben Derrick from Wangaratta Ski Club, however after the second 5km lap Sim moved out to a 45 second lead never looked back. The 18-year-old NSW Institute of Sport skier completed the 15km in the time of 39'33.7", with a winning margin of 1'29.1 over Derrick. It was a close battle for third place, with Mark Raymond from Team Lake Mountain in Victoria holding on by 9.1 seconds ahead of Sim's NSWIS team-mate Chris Darlington from Jindabyne.

The Australia New Zealand Cup moves next weekend to Lake Mountain for the Australian Sprint Championships on Saturday August 7.

Results are up!

Chloe McConville poles out of the start
2004 Australian 10km Classic Champs - Mt Hotham
Photo by Kevin Tory

Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub to Pub
Sun, a fast hard track, and no wind greeted nearly 200 skiers in the 2004 Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub To Pub on Saturday July 31. Sponsored by Ajays, the Pub to Pub is one of the most popular events in the Victorian Interclub Series (or VSA Snowsports Challenge or whatever it is called) and with conditions and a course like it was this weekend it is not hard to see why. Ben Derrick from Wangaratta Ski Club lead his club to victory in the Interclub points tally, setting a new course record of f 26'42" on the 12km track from the Mt Hotham General Store to the Dinner Plain Hotel. Though pushed hard in the race to first boot on the road crossing Derrick went on to win comfortably ahead of Mark van der ploeg from Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club. KT Calder from Canberra was the first woman across the line. Full results and probably more pictures will be up soon if not now on the Hotham to Dinner Plain website.

July 28 - Numbers Up for Lake Mountain Mini Series

Last Sunday 25 July 82 competitors turned out on a rainy day to compete in race two of the Lake Mountain Mini Series. There were larger groups competing from Ivanhoe, MLC and Peninsula School Ski Teams and Mt Bullfight Ski Club. The tracks were packed and the faster U14 Girls and U10 year olds had to work hard to pass the slower skiers from the groups who started in front.

Some of the winners were Clare Butler in the under 10 girls, Dion Richardson in the under 10 Boys, and Juliette Booth in the under 14 girls, Thomas Walker lead the under 14 boys to the end of Echo Flat before being passed by Giles Richardson who crossed the line six seconds ahead. Georga Merritt won the under 18 girls but was closely followed by Steph Ferguson, and Ross Hamilton was first under 18 boy across the line.

Full Results are up.

July 26 - Sim & Calder Win ACT/NSW Champs

ACT/NSW Championships
The 2004 ACT/NSW Open and Junior Championships were held this weekend July 24-25 at Perisher Valley in NSW. These competitions were also selection races for the National Junior Team. ACTAS athlete KT Calder dominated the open women's events on both days. 18-year-old Ben Sim from Cooma won the open men's classic race comfortably, however had to fight hard to record a narrow 3-second victory over NSWIS team-mate Chris Darlington from Jindabyne in the freestyle event.

Strong winds and wet new snow made for pretty average conditions during the classic races on Saturday. All races were held on the standard Perisher 2.5km loop on very wind-blown tracks. Grip waxing was difficult, with several skiers opting for wax-less skis and "hairies" with mixed success Runner-up to Sim in the open men's 10km classic was Andrew Circosta (on hairies), ahead of Darlington (on crowns). Esther Bottomley (on crowns) from Mt Beauty finished second behind Calder in the 5km classic, ahead of Leanne Laajoki from the ACT. Aimee Watson from Cooma was the fastest junior woman in 5th place overall. The Under 16 winner d'Arcy Baxter from Berridale skied a very impressive race to be second junior and 6th overall.

Conditions were more pleasant for the freestyle events on Sunday, with the wind easing off slightly and the sun even poking through now and then. Calder blew the field apart in the open 5km freestyle, winning by 1'30" despite a fall and collision with a tree in the last 500m. Bottomley took second again, with former Australian Champion Camille Melvey from Sydney taking third place. Aimee Watson made it a clean sweep in the junior event, finishing in 4th place overall and 45 seconds ahead of the second junior Sally Cunningham from the ACT.

It was a close race all the way between Sim and Darlington in the 10km freestyle, with Sim holding a 6 second lead late in the first 5km lap. Sim had extended the lead to 10 seconds with 2km to go, but started to fade over the last uphill. Darlington came storming home to be just 3 seconds short of an upset victory. Mark van der Ploeg from Mt Beauty skied a great race to be third overall and second junior after Sim.

Full results available soon in the 2004 Results section.

July 23 - Race Entry Forms

Entry forms are now available on-line for the Australian 10/15km Championship at Mt Hotham, the Victorian Sprint and Junior Sprint Championships at Falls Creek, and the Australian Junior Championships in September. Other race organisers who wish to have their entry forms posted on the website should contact: marslandf

July 19 - Victorian Junior Championship

The 2004 Victorian Junior Championships were held this weekend July 17-18 at Mt Hotham. With new snow freshly packed by resort management groomer Greg Donohue the tracks were in great condition. All events were held using a mass start format, with classic technique used on Saturday and freestyle technique on Sunday. The races were organised by the Telemark Nordic Ski Club, on behalf of the Victorian Snowsports Association.

The women's U16, U18, and U20 5km events were started together. Chloe McConville (U18) from TNSC skied away from all competitors soon after the start and won comfortably on both days. Second across the line in the classic race was Georgia Merret (U16) from Ivanhoe, ahead of Kelly Herzog (U18) from Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club. Annabelle Sawyer from TNSC won the U20 class. In the freestyle race it was a close battle for second overall and for the victory in the U16 class between Merret and Jaffa Withers from BNSC, with Withers coming from behind in the last 500m to pip Merret by just 4 seconds.

The classic 10km event saw Evan van der Ploeg (U20) and younger brother Neil (U18) of BNSC ski almost the entire race together, before Evan made a break in the closing stages. Third place overall went to Ian Bottomley (U18) of BNSC, with Lachlan Cann also of BNSC third in the U18. In the freestyle event Cann lead out of the start, but soon relinquished the lead to Mark van der Ploeg (U20) who broke away with Bottomley on his tail. Cann dropped back to 5th, leaving Evan van der Ploeg to ski a solo race in the third place ahead of Neil van der Ploeg in fourth. After sitting behind all the way Bottomley tried to sprint in the final 200m, drawing level only to have Mark van der Ploeg fight back and win by 1m.

In the U16 men's 5km events the winner was Simon Flower of Birkebeiner, ahead of Neil Burbidge from Yackandanda. The U14 men's class was won by Ben Pascall of TNSC, with the U14 women's class being won by Juliet Booth from MLC. Full results will be available soon on the TNSC website.

Mark van der Ploeg leads Ian Bottomley
2004 Victorian Junior Championship, Mt Hotham

Cooma Open
The last of the three Cooma Ski Club early season events at Perisher Valley was held on Sunday July 18. 18-year-old Ben Sim from Cooma won the 10km freestyle event, a couple of minutes clear from his NSWIS coach Nick Almoukov of Berridale. Almoukov had a close battle with Chris Darlington of Jindabyne, getting away on the last downhill. Alina McMaster was the fastest woman in the 10km event.

From last weekend - Tom Landon Smith was the fastest skier in the Cooma Clean Out The Waxbox 5km classic event at Perisher Valley, 3 seconds faster than NSW junior Ewan Watson. The fastest woman was Ewan's twin Aimee Watson, just 6 seconds ahead of Leanne Laajoki. Results are available on the NSW Snowsports Association website.

From the previous weekend - Results from the Cooma Clean out the Cobwebs also on the NSWSA website.

Lake Mountain Mini Series
The first race of the 2004 Lake Mountain Mini Series was held last weekend at Lake Mountain. 33 competitors from in classes from U18 to U6 competed in the freestyle mass start events, which started and finished in the Helicopter Flat area. Full Results are up.

July 11 - Murray, Calder Win Classic Sprint

ACT Sprint Championship
The ACT Sprint Championships were held in Perisher Valley on Saturday July 10 - the first classic sprint event to be held in Australia. Though the number of entrants was limited, spectators were treated to some exciting racing on the sprint loop outside the Sverre Kaaten Nordic Shelter. In the end the men's and women's sprint finals were won comfortably by the favourites, Paul Murray from Victoria and KT Calder from ACT, however the competition for the other podium places was hot.

Murray posted the fastest male qualifying time of 2:24, with fellow Victorian Nick Grimmer 5 seconds back in 2nd place and NSW junior Ben Sim another second back in 3rd. Sim was moving surprisingly well for a guy who had got off the plane from Russia 1 week before and only skied for a couple of days. Calder with a qualifying time of 2:57 was well clear of the women's field, with ACT skiers Leanne Laajoki and Sally Cunningham 2nd and 3rd. The first semi-final for the men saw Murray up against Andrew Mock, Tim Retchford, and Nick Almoukov. Murray went clear after the first lap (the course was 2 by ~550m), with Retchford and Mock going neck and neck (and often ski to ski) the whole way for the second final berth. Retchford came into the straight first but Mock pulled out a great lunge to get 2nd right on the line. (see pic above). In the other semi-final Ben Sim lead from Nick Grimmer after the first lap, with Leon Spiller in 3rd ahead of Ian Bottomley. Spiller started to bridge the gap to Grimmer as Sim went clear in front, but Grimmer had fast skis on the downhill and held onto 2nd in the finish straight.

The women's event went straight to the final, and Calder went very impressively off the front over the top of the first hill leaving Laajoki ahead of Cunningham and NSW junior Aimee Watson. With 1st place sown up the interest turned to the battle for second. Laajoki moved into a clear 2nd place as Watson skied up to 3rd on the start of the second lap. With Laajoki a little hesitant on the top corner and on the downhill Watson closed the gap, and then a stumble at the start of the finish straight lost Laajoki a little more momentum and Watson double-poled her way into 2nd place.

In the men's final Grimmer double-poled the first hill like a madman to be in touch with Murray over the top of the course. The two made a small gap on Sim and Mock, with Grimmer pushing the limits of classic technique to hold onto Murray on the bottom corner. Murray then went clear off the front as Grimmer almost tripped himself up coming round the lap lane. Up the hill the second time Sim and Mock pegged back Grimmer as the latter started to tire. Mock moved into 2nd place as they headed into the downhill for the last time, Sim on his heels.

There were U16 events as well, which were possibly won by D'Arcy Baxter in the girls and Callum Watson in the boys. Full results available soon.

Andrew Mock (L) outlunges Tim Retchford
ACT Sprint semi-final, Perisher Valley, July 2004
Image by Warren Feakes

NSW Sprint Relay Championships
In the afternoon after the classic sprints the NSW Sprint Relays were held. The format was 2-person teams, 2kiing 1 lap twice each, in freestyle technique. There were no open women's teams, but the open men's event saw a great battle between the NSW team of Ben Sim and Nick Almoukov and the Victorian team of Andrew Mock and Tim Retchford. Mock looked very strong on the first lap making a small break on Sim, but Sim pulled him back on the downhill and they changed together. The same routine repeated with Retchford and Almoukov, with Almoukov catching up as they hit the straight and managing to give Sim the lead at the change. Mock overtook Sim up the hill, but couldn't get away and again they changed in unison. The last lap saw Retchford leading into the finish straight ahead of Almoukov, and holding on to win across the line by about a metre.

High Plains Tour
Only a brief report from the Snowgum Wodonga High Plains Tour at Falls Creek on Saturday July 10. Ben Derrick skied away from the field to win comfortably ahead of Lindsay Bridgeford, with David Hunt third. Belinda Phillips was the first woman. Full results to come soon.

Victorian Interclub Championships
The first event of the VSA Cross Country Challenge (nee Interclub Series) was held at Falls Creek on July 11. About 25 teams of three took part in the junior, open, masters, and grand masters classes. The open women's event was lead all the way and won by the composite team of Belind Phillips, Penny Grose, and Jacinta O'Neill, with the first official club the Birkebeiner team of Robyn Rodd, Jeannette McLaren, and Esther Bottomley. The open men's event was lead by Birkebeiner after the first classic leg, however Ben Derrick catapulted Wangaratta into a commanding 2:45 lead on the freestle second leg. Daniel van der Ploeg reduced the lead to 1:20 on the final leg, but it was all in vain and Cameron Dickenson took Wangaratta to victory. However Birkebeiner claimed the points for the overall win in this first VSA series event. Full results coming soon (we swear!).

No news yet on the Cooma Clean Out The Waxbox race from Perisher Valley, if anyone has any results or a report please send them in.

July 8 - Paddy Pallin Junior

Report from the Paddy Pallin Junior, held in Perisher Valley on July 3:

A beautiful day, sunny, not too much wind, perfect snow and a freshly groomed track. A field of twelve arrived to enter the Paddy Pallin Junior Cross Country ski event. The skiers and their supporters milled around at the start while Tim Greville gave the skiers a race briefing. Some of the older ones were ready to go (and a few of the younger ones were too) and then they were off! The track took the skiers up the road from CAC and around and up behind the Cronulla Lodge and back to the start and up again past Cooma Hut and Snow Revellers then down to the road and back up to the start. The younger skiers did a half or one or two laps, the older ones did three and four laps. As usual the hot dogs and poppers appeared afterwards to fill the hungry tummies and certificates were presented to all. Spot prizes, courtesy of Paddy Pallin, were drawn and every one got something - then the jelly snake hunt! And after all that, as the day was fine, we all had another ski! Thanks to the sponsors, Canberra Alpine Club, Paddy Pallin, Buttercup Bakery in Cooma and Perisher Blue/NPWS (for the grooming) and all the helpers and the skiers for another wonderful day. We hope to see everyone - and more - next year for a BIG ANNIVERSARY.

July 4 - Competition Season Underway

The first weekend of competition in the 2004 Australian season has been ticked off the list. The Birkebeiner Classic and Ski di Femme were held at Falls Creek in Victoria, and the Paddy Pallin Junior and Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs at Perisher Valley in NSW. With good snow covers reported at all resorts, everything is set for another season of cross country ski racing action.

A reminder to race organisers and budding xc ski journalists - if you want your results posted on the website or a report published here, send your files by email to marslandf, or by fax to 03 5754 4475.

Birkebeiner Classic
Over 60 skiers took part in the season opener Birkebeiner Classic at Falls Creek on Saturday July 3. Race conditions were very good, with no wind and good visibility. In the men's 10km classic event a pack of 5 skiers lead by Leon Spiller broke away early on, including Paul Murray, Ben Derrick, Nick Grimmer, and Andrew Wynd. Wyndy was the first to be dropped, and spent a lap or so just out of contact with the pack. Nick Grimmer made a tactical blunder at the start of the third lap when he went to the front and slowed down the pace, causing Ben Derrick to make his move and split up the group. Paul Murray was caught napping and never managed to get onto BD's heels, the 3-time Kangaroo Hoppet winner going on to win comfortably by 17 seconds even after a fall coming into the horseyards 500m out from the finish. Leon Spiller took third, with Wyndy moving up to 4th as Grimmer faded back to 5th. In the women's 5km classic Belinda Phillips was unchallenged, winning well clear of junior Chloe McConville and Jacinta O'Neill. O'Neill had a break on McConville early on but dropped back to 3rd after a fall, and McConville held onto 2nd place by just 5 seconds. Australia's number 1 and 2 ranked women, Clare-Louise Brumley and KT Calder were on site but opted not to race, Brumley doing classic intervals instead and KT taking it easy with a minor foot injury.

The 5km boys event was won by Simon Flower ahead of Neil van der Ploeg. In the 2.5km event Matthew Kiel was the first across the line ahead of Giles Richardson. The first girl and 3rd fastest overall in the 2.5km was Juliette Booth. Full Results available.

Belinda Phillips; Leon Spiller leading the pack; Ben Derrick
Images by Graeme Bottomley

Ski de Femme
Reportedly nearly 100 women and girls took part today July 4 in special Ski de Femme coaching clinics organised by the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club. Afterwards 75 of them competed in the 5km, 2.5km and 1km events freestyle events organised around the bowl. Belinda Phillips cleaned up the 5km event ahead of Jacinta O'Neill and Esther Bottomley, the latter just starting to use her wrist again after a bad break a couple of months ago. The fastest in the 2.5km event was Juliette Booth ahead of Sally Flower and Stephanie Ferguson, while the first across the line in the 1km event was Georgia Herzog in the Primary school class, ahead of Stacy Begg and Cathy Ross. Full Results are up.

Clean Out the Cobwebs
North of the border Cooma Ski Club ran their first event, the Clean Out The Cobwebs on the Perisher Valley tracks. Only a short bit of news has come through - NSWIS skier Chris Darlington was the fastest skier ahead of junior NSW skiers Ewan Watson and Callum Watson. Possibly Aimee Watson (also NSWIS) was the fastest female.

TNSC Entry Forms
Entry forms for the Victorian Junior Cross Country Skiing Championships and the Rocky Valley Rush are now available on the Telemark Nordic Ski Club website.

Training Camps
The first on-snow training camp for the National Team was held last week at Homans Gap Alpine Centre near Falls Creek, with 14 national team athletes in attendance under the guidance of coaches Finn Marsland and J-C Legras. A special guest joined the training camp - Alan Eason (the entire Great Britain XC Ski Team ), out here to train for a couple of months. The main focus of the camp was technique training, combined with a fair amount of volume and a couple of interval sessions. The training continues with a National Team Sprint Camp starting at Falls Creek from July 5-8. There has been no shortage of skiers training around Falls Creek these two weeks - other groups conducting training camps have included the Telemark, Wangaratta, and Birkebeiner ski clubs, school teams from Ivanhoe and MLC, and coming up the Victorian Juinior Squad kicks off their 3-day camp on Tuesday July 6.