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July 1 - Now It Is Winter!
July 7 - Paddy Pallin Junior
July 9 - Entry Form Frenzy
July 10 - Kalkite Road Time Trials
July 16 - Victorian Junior Championships
July 18 - Cooma Open
July 19 - Junior Selection Races
July 25 - ACT/NSW Championships
July 26 - Races On At Falls Creek
July 28 - Two Routes To The Top
July 30 - Happy Birthday
August 3 - Hotham Pub to Pub Update
August 7 - Perisher Valley Action
August 10 - ANC, KAC + Sundeck Cup
August 11 - SMC + Time Trials This Weekend
August 12 - ANC Sprint + SMC
August 13 - France, NZ Lead ANC
August 15 - Winter Triathlon
August 21 - Australian Open + Junior Championship
August 23 - Hoppet On Up The Top
August 27 - Kangaroo Hoppet
September 6 - Events On and Off
September 8 - Perisher Pub To Pub
September 19 - Yowie Stomp
September 24 - National Rankings

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Summer Reports 2006/2007

2006 Race Calendar
2006 Race Results
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2006 Distance Rankings
2006 Sprint Rankings

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Winter 2006 Updates


September 24 - National Rankings

The National Rankings for 2006 have now been posted. Distance Rankings are calculated from the best two results from the four national selection races during the Australian winter; while the Sprint Rankings are determined by the best single result from the two national selection race.

The Provisional National Team for 2006/2007 is also up. The National Team is selected based on FIS results, results during the Australian winter, and with some discretionary input from SAXC. Applications for post selection should also be directed to SAXC.


September 19 - Yowie Stomp

The inaugural Yowie Romp to Stomp Out Cancer was held at Falls Creek last Saturday, organised by Bell Edmondson from the Falls Creek Resort Management. A snowshoe race with relay teams of four, the event was held outside the Cloud 9 restaurant at the top of the Falls Express chairlift. Combined with an auction of the teams on Friday night, the event raised over $5,000 for the Victorian Cancer Council. The winning team in the final was The Chicken Leg Bachelors (Finn Marsland, Paul Murray, Simon Flower and Phillips Bellingham), after a tough battle with Rocky Valley Bikes and Snowsports (Neil and Daniel van der Ploeg, Clinton and Duane Butcher) and Windy Corner (Ben Derrick, Belinda Phillips, Helen Hodge, and Dave Hunt).


Paul Murray strides it out ahead of Daniel van der Ploeg

New Snowgum Wodonga website
Well known cross country ski retailer Snowgum Wodonga has a new website, www.crosscountryskier.com.au. While some sections are still being developed, some of Bob Cranage's articles on ski waxing can be found under the "Technique" section.


September 8 - Perisher Pub To Pub

The Pub to Pub was on yesterday at Perisher Valley, here's a report from competitor Ben Sim:

With the limited snow conditions the race was a bit of pick and chose. Some opted for skiing, others opted for running. It didn't stop the crowds, about 350-400 people drew up to the startline. As the race got under way it turned into a 3-way battle for glory amongst the men and the women. In the men it was Nick (Almoukov, NSW Coach), Geoff (Pais, from France), and me, and in the women it was Carla (Zijlstra), Michelle (Macfarlane) and Sally (Cunningham). Nick showed his skills downing the drink and made a break on the second station. Geoff was close on his tail but then lost his ski (maybe drunk already from two beers and didn't put it on properly) so I moved up to secnd chasing Nick. Up the half pipe Nick held his lead and downed some more beers. I tried so hard to catch him but was held off on the line by my own coach, Nick winning , me second and Geoff third. Amongst the women, Michelle had the early lead through the first pub but was soon caught by Carla, who ran the whole thing. Sally caught up to Michelle after two or three pubs, but couldn't keep her pace up the half pipe. Carla came out on top with Michelle second and Sally third. The winning time for Nick was around 9 minutes, not bad for the Russian born drinker/skier considering the 5 beers drunk along the way. A fun day.


September 6 - Events On and Off

Perisher Pub To Pub On
The Pub to Pub is on tomorrow at Perisher Valley, now into its 24th year. The word is out that the 2006 event will include running and skiing and check points at the traditional 5 drink stations. Unless there are really significant snowfalls (and it is snowing now) the ski section will be up and down the hill to the Sundeck Hotel. Registration is from 11:30am to 1:00pm at Smiggins, with the start set to go at 1:30pm. A very competitive field is expected at the front of the race, with Chris Darlington and Nick Almoukov holding 9 Pub to Pub titles between them up against French import Geoffroy Pais the fastest sprinter in Australia this season and Ben Sim the fastest distance skier. Not so sure about Simbo's drinking ability though. Expect some older cross country Pub to Pub legends to come out of the woodwork also (though not Anthony Evans as he should be at work!).

Hotham Winter Triathlon Off
Mt Hotham has advised that the 2007 Winter Triathlon has been cancelled. Please see the following release from Alistair Young:

Hello everyone,

It is with much regret that I officially announce that the Hotham Winter Triathlon for this year has been cancelled. The event will be postponed until Saturday, September 8, 2007.

The reason for the cancellation is due to poor conditions. It has been one of those freakishly marginal years when it comes to snowfall, and the unseasonally warm weather in the last week has meant that we have not had much choice in the matter.

On behalf of Mount Hotham Skiing Company's Events, Race and Marketing departments we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused, and please understand that we did not take this decision lightly. We believe that the event has a strong and positive future, and we are already looking forward to building on what was a very successful first Winter Tri last year.

We hope that you have a great summer, and we look forward to welcoming each and every one of you back to compete in 2007. For those entrants who have already entered, your entrance fees will be fully refunded to you in the next day or two.

If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Alistair Young
Communications Manager
Hotham Skiing Company

To find out further details on the event for 2007 go to: www.hotham.com.au/tri

Results Catch Up
Apolgies for the delay, however results are now posted for the Snowy Mountains Classic and Sundeck Cup from back in August. Also for the ASSSTC cross country races last Friday.


August 27 - Kangaroo Hoppet

2006 Kangaroo Hoppet
Whoever organised the weather for the Kangaroo Hoppet yesterday did a fantastic job. A handy snowfall on Friday topped up a track that was starting to get very thin in places and then a clear night set the snow up hard for a sunny race day. Hoppet organisers put in an incredible effort during the week to shift all the gear and the course up the top of the Falls Creek resort where all the snow was. Special thanks should go to the Falls Creek cross country groomer Ross Forrest for putting a great course together - including building an 60 metre bridge over rocks and bushes to link up the Pretty Valley loop. The race? Oh yes, Ben Sim held off a tough field to win the men's Kangaroo Hoppet for the second year in a row, while Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi was a comfortable winner in the women's event. Full press release and results are available on the Kangaroo Hoppet website. 

Hoppet Video On Web
If you didn't make it up for the race you can see what the event and conditions were like on Snow.tv website. Definitely worth a look!

FIS Australia New Zealand Cup
In the final round-up Ben Sim from Australia and Samantha Bonderenko from New Zealand have won the 2006 FIS Australia New Zealand Cup, the only southern hemisphere FIS Continental Cup series for cross country skiing. Bondarenko skied a solid 6th place in the Kangaroo Hoppet to keep her 38 points clear of Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi from Switzerland. Sim won the last three events in the series to secure his win ahead of Geoffroy Pais from France. The winners of each of the FIS Continental Cup series around the world are given extra quota places on World Cup and have their expenses paid for these events, the same as for World Cup Red Group skiers (the top 30 in the world). [Note that the winners still need to satsify the FIS point performance standard required to ski World Cup.]

Women's Top 10 Final Standing:
1 - 338 - Samantha Bondarenko, NZE
2 - 300 - Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi, SUI
3 - 280 - Katherine Calder, AUS
4 - 236 - Natalie Cobby, NZE
5 - 182 - Belinda Phillips, AUS
6 - 160 - Aimee Watson, AUS
7 - 150 - Esther Bottomley, AUS
8 - 146 - Camille Melvey, AUS
9 - 130 - Alexa Turzian, USA
10 - 117 - d'Arcy Baxter, AUS

Men's Top 10 Final Standing:
1 - 530 - Ben Sim, AUS
2 - 422 - Geoffroy Pais, FRA
3 - 185 - Ben Derrick, AUS
4 - 180 - Andrew Johnson, USA
5 - 170 - Neil van der Ploeg, AUS
6 - 164 - Chris Darlington, AUS
7 - 158 - Mark van der Ploeg, AUS
8 - 150 - Brian McKeever, CAN
9 - 131 - Nat Anglem, NZE
10 - 130 - Ronald Carmichael, GBR

Full Continental Cup Standings


August 23 - Hoppet On Up The Top

An update from the Kangaroo Hoppet Race Secretary:

The 2006 Kangaroo Hoppet will be held on the alternative course on the upper trails at Falls Creek. Skiers in the Kangaroo Hoppet will do two laps of the 14 km course and skiers in the Australian Birkebeiner will do one lap. Joey Hoppet skiers will ski the 6 km Ruined Castle / Mt McKay section of the course. The decision to reduce the length of the events was taken in light of the difficulty of the course, depth of the snow and the increased altitude.

Start times for the Hoppet and Birkebeiner are unchanged at 9.30 and 9.40. It is planned that the start time for the Joey Hoppet will be delayed by 1 hour to 10.50 to reduce congestion on the trail.

Light snowfalls are predicted in the next few days, clearing on Friday. The outlook for Saturday is fine with light wind.

Walking time to the start/finish area is 40 minutes from Windy Corner car park. Access is also possible via the chair lift system. Falls Creek Ski Lifts will have a $5 'Hoppet Special' ticket for use on the chairlifts to access the start area for the Kangaroo Hoppet. on Saturday August 26 only.

They will be on sale at the Kangaroo Hoppet Race Office in Mt Beauty from Thursday to Saturday morning, or on race day from the brown mobile ticket box at Windy Corner car park (cash only - the correct change would be most helpful). These tickets will NOT be available from the normal Falls Creek Ski Lifts ticket outlets at Falls Creek.

All parking will be at Windy Corner Car Park. Either walk down (via Wombats Ramble ski trail or on the road) to Falls Creek Express (previously known as Bilia Bullet and before that as Halley's Comet chairlift). [Note - the Falls Express is the fastest and most recommended chairlift route]. Last 'proper toilets' are at Cloud Nine. Access can also be made via the the Eagle Chairlift, (more convenient for folk staying in Falls Creek) but please remember that tickets will not be on sale from Falls Creek Ski Lifts outlets. For those wishing to walk, the most direct way from Windy Corner is up Wombats Ramble to McKay Rd, then turn right and follow McKay Rd to the start, approx 40 minutes.

PS Don't forget the Pasta Night at Roi's Restaurant in Tawonga on Friday night. All you can eat plus your first drink for only $18.00


The Kangaroo Hoppet Treasure Map (click for full map)


August 21 - Australian Open + Junior Championships

The 2006 Australian Championships for Cross Country Skiing concluded this weekend at Falls Creek with the women's 5km, men's 10km, and Australian Junior Championship events. Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi from Switzerland won both women's 5km events, while Australia's Ben Sim won the men's 10km events. The competitions were also part of the Australia - New Zealand Continental Cup series, which concludes with the Kangaroo Hoppet international ski marathon at Falls Creek next Saturday August 26.

All races were held in the Ruined Castle area on the upper Falls Creek trails. While 14km of tracks were groomed in preparation for the Kangaroo Hoppet, the championship events were held on a much more spectator friendly 2.5km loop. Special thanks should go to the Falls Creek Resort Management and Falls Creek Ski Lifts for their assistance in running the competitions. The event was organised by the Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club on behalf of Ski & Snowboard Australia and the Victorian Snowsports Association.

Leonardi-Cortesi has been training on-snow at Falls Creek for about two weeks. The 35-year-old won a relay bronze medal for Switzerland in 2002, and finished 16th individually at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Other merits include multiple wins in the Engadin Ski Marathon, Switzerland's Worldloppet event. Leonardi-Cortesi won the 5km Freestyle on Saturday by 25 seconds ahead of Alexa Turzain from the USA, with Canberra's KT Calder 3 seconds further back in 3rd place. Calder put up tougher opposition in the 5km Classic on Sunday, matching Leonardi-Cortesi early on and going down by just 14 seconds. 3rd place in the classic went to NSW junior Aimee Watson from Cooma.

In the men's 10km Freestyle Sim trailed Geoffroy Pais from France by a few seconds after the first lap of the 2.5km course. However the Frenchman's pacing wasn't quite on and by the finish he dropped to 4th place behind Ben Derrick from the Wangaratta Ski Club and Chris Darlington from Jindabyne. Sim stamped his authority on the 10km Classic the next day, winning by over a minute from Pais, with Derrick squeezing in for 3rd place just ahead of top Australian junior Neil van der Ploeg from Mt Beauty.

While the Open Junior competitions were won by Turzain from the USA and Pais from France, the overall Australian Junior titles were claimed by Neil van der Ploeg and Aimee Watson, who are both looking to compete at the 2007 World Junior Championships in Italy next January. Incidentally Turzain finished 35th in the Pursuit at the 2006 WJC early this year in Slovenia. The junior classes were boosted this weekend by a large contingent of New Zealand skiers who were very competitive in the younger classes.

The combined winner over the two days in the U16 boys class was Phillip Bellingham from Mt Beauty. Juliette Booth from Kew won the U16 girls. Wangaratta juniors Aislinn Kildea and Alasdair Tutt won the U14 classes. Jack Johnson from Sydney won the U12 boys, and Sarah Lees from New Zealand won the U12 girls.

Freestyle Results are up already, Classic Results will be up soon.

Australia New Zealand Cup
In the overall Australia New Zealand Cup men's standings Sim has taken over the lead from Pais, and carries a 40 point lead into the final competition. No other men have a chance to contend for the top two places, though Ben Derrick will have a good possibility to move up into 3rd place. In the women's ANC Samantha Bondarenko looks to have the series sown up. While on paper a win to Leonardi-Cortesi or Calder could put them 2 points ahead of their current 98 point deficit, Bondarenko would have to be a DNS or DNF not to get any points.

Women's Standing (after 6 events):
1 - 298 - Samantha Bondarenko, NZE
2 - 236 - Natalie Cobby, NZE
3 - 200 - Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi, SUI
4 - 200 - Katherine Calder, AUS
5 - 160 - Aimee Watson, AUS

Men's Standings (after 6 events):
1 - 430 - Ben Sim, AUS
2 - 390 - Geoffroy Pais, FRA
3 - 180 - Andrew Johnson, USA
4 - 170 - Neil van der Ploeg, AUS
5 - 140 - Ben Derrick, AUS

Full Continental Cup Standings


August 15 - Winter Triathlon

Hotham Winter Triathlon
Australia's only officially sanctioned Wi nter Triathlon is on again this year at Dinner Plain near Mt Hotham on Saturday September 9.The event has official backing from both the International Triathlon Union and Triathlon Australia, and incorporates the Australian National and Oceania Championships. However any standard of athlete is encouraged to participate and have a go on the day.

The event involves three disciplines - a run, a cycle and a cross country ski. You may enter as an individual (where you do all three legs yourself), a team of 3 (where you do a leg each) or a corporate team (where 3 of you do all three legs at the same time). Distances for this year are still to be finalised, however based on last year it is likely that the event will involve a 6km run, a 10km bike ride and an 8km cross country ski, with distances halved for juniors.

For more information (including most of this copied here), entry forms and the latest race news check out www.hotham.com.au/tri

Nationals On At Falls Creek
Just to clarify any rumours about the Australian Open and Junior Championships this weekend at Falls Creek. The races will be on up the top, starting from the Link Lift area at the beginning of the McKay Loop. The course hasn't been finalised yet, however the 7.5km loop used for the 30km at the end of July still has plenty of snow on it and a 2.5km course incorporating part of this loop is likely to be used.


August 13 - France, New Zealand Lead ANC

Snow Farm 5/10km Freestyle
The New Zealand round of the 2006 FIS Australia New Zealand Cup finished today with close wins to Canada and New Zealand. Brian McKeever from Canada won the men's 10km freestyle by just 10 seconds ahead of Andrew Johnson, with Ben Sim from Australia finishing third 45 seconds off the pace. Samantha Bondarenko from New Zealand won the women's 5km by 6 seconds from Canadian Karen Messenger, with New Zealand junior Natalie Cobby rounding out the podium.

The races were held with an interval start and there was little separating the top four men after the first 2.5km lap, with France's Geoffroy Pais starting fast and within a few seconds of the lead. After 5km Pais slowed down and was overhauled by McKeever who started 30 seconds behind, the Canadian almost dead level with Johnson who had halved the 30 start gap to Ben Sim. With a lap to go Johnson caught Sim but had dropped 5 seconds behind McKeever who showed no sign of slowing down. McKeever crossed the line first and looked to see if Johnson had found anything on the last lap; he hadn't. Sim felt a bit flat on the way to his third place today, perhaps the last weeks of racing is starting to catch up.

Bondarenko had a couple of falls during the race and was 14 seconds down on Messenger after the first lap. The 21-year-old Kiwi was still behind coming into the last hill, but managed to gain ground and regain the lead in the last few hundred metres. Bondarenko will travel across the Tasman next week to compete in the ANC races at Falls Creek, together with some of the younger junior New Zealand skiers.

Australia New Zealand Cup Standings
With four out of seven events down Samantha Bondarenko from New Zealand has a handy lead in the ANC, with 245 points ahead of her junior team-mate Natalie Cobby on 200 points. In the men's standings Geoffroy Pais from France holds off Ben Sim with 260 points to 230, with the USA's Andrew Johnson third on 180 points. Sim should be on track to take over the lead next weekend at Falls Creek if he maintains the trend of beating Pais in distance events; though new competition will also come from Swiss skiers Pascal Grab and Andy Romer who arrived at Falls Creek this week. Esther Bottomley will have a hard task to regain the lead from Bondarenko, and will also face a late challenge from Swiss Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi and Australian KT Calder who will both be strong in the last three distance events.

Women's Standing (after 4 events):
1 - 245 - Samantha Bondarenko, NZE
2 - 200 - Natalie Cobby, NZE
3 - 100 - Kate Underwood, USA
4 - 100 - Esther Bottomley, AUS
5 - 80 - Chloe McConville, AUS

Men's Standings (after 4 events):
1 - 260 - Geoffroy Pais, FRA
2 - 230 - Ben Sim, AUS
3 - 180 - Andrew Johnson, USA
4 - 131 - Nat Anglem, NZE
5 - 117 - Ronald Carmichael, GBR


August 12 - ANC Sprint + SMC

Snow Farm Australia-New Zealand Cup - Sprint Freestyle
The Australia New Zealand Cup continued today with the sprint event at the Snow Farm in New Zealand. It was a good day for the USA with Andrew Newell winning the men's final, Kate Underwood the women's final, and all the podium spots being filled by US skiers.

Newell posted the fastest time trial ahead of team-mate Torin Koos, with French junior Geoffroy Pais taking third place only 3 seconds behind Newell with his best ever FIS points. Australia's Ben Sim finished sixth, a further 5 seconds back. In the semi-final Sim came up against Koos and Pais and was knocked out into the B-final, where he finished second behind Colin Rodgers of the USA to end up 6th overall. Koos led the A-final most of the way until after the final corner into the straight, where he was overtaken by Newell. Pais was in contact but in fourth place on the final corner, but couldn't make any ground on third place Chris Cook in the finish straight.

The women's final was all USA, with Samantha Bonderenko from New Zealand and Karen Messenger from Canada knocked out in the semis. The first three were close all the way, with Underwood holding off fastest qualifier Nicole De Young and Katie Ronsse in the final straight.

Tomorrow the New Zealand round of racing in the ANC finishes up with the 5km and 10km freestyle events.


Underwood, De Young, and Ronsse
Women's Sprint Final
Photo: Pete Vordenberg
Snowy Mountains Classic
At Perisher Valley Chris Darlington and Jane Scheer won the Snowy Mountains Classic today. According to Chris Darlington the 30km event was 24.85km (give or take his deviations around the track). The men's podium was filled out with Nick Almoukov and Mark van der Ploeg; the women's by Carla Zijlstra and Camille Melvey. In the Guthrie Gallop (15km) Alex Almoukov won the men's ahead of Callum and Ewan Watson, while KT Calder won the women's ahead of Aimee Watson and Michele McFarlane. The Rock Creek Rush? Not sure yet, but more details will soon be up on the NSW Ski Association site.


August 11 - SMC + Time Trials This Weekend

The Snowy Mountains Classic is set for tomorrow at Perisher Valley at 9:30am. It is expected to be held on a modified course around the Prussian Plain area in order to avoid a climb up the Porcupine due to poor snow conditions.

With no official races at Falls Creek some of the local skiers and the Victorian Junior Squad are thinking about holding some time trials. Read this special race briefing from Leon Spiller for some details - however check on the whiteboard at Windy Corner on the weekend for more accurate information.


August 10 - ANC, KAC & Sundeck Cup

Snow Farm Australia-New Zealand Cup - 10/15km Classic
Andrew Johnson from the US Ski Team won the men's 15km Classic at the Snow Farm today, however Ben Sim put in a solid performance to take second place only 49 seconds behind. 2006 Australian Sprint Champion Geoffroy Pais from France took third place in the mass start event. Sim broke away from the rest of the field with Johnson and Pais right from the start, then Johnson opened up a break of his own at the end of the first lap of four. On the third lap it looked as though the gap between 1st and 2nd might start to blow out more, however Sim kept fighting hard and lost less than 10 seconds on the final lap. Finishing so close to Johnson is not a bad result for Sim, as the US skier has a much higher ranking and only 42.5 FIS points. 

In the women's 10km Classic Samantha Bondarenko from New Zealand won ahead of Karen Messenger from Canada and Natalie Cobby from New Zealand. The three were quite close after the first lap, however the time gaps spread out as the race went on and Bondarenko won by a minute. Both the men's and women's fields were smaller than expected, however more competitors are expected to start in the Sprint and 5/10km Freestyle event on the weekend.

In the leader standings in the ANC (that's the terminology FIS is using for theAustralia New Zealand Cup) Pais holds a 30 point lead over Sim, with Johnson another 30 points further back. In the women's standings Esther Bottomley and Bondarenko are now equal on 100 points with one win each, although today's ANC points will have to be confirmed as Bondarenko was the only female competitor with a FIS licence and the race will not count as a FIS race. [Post-note: Colby also has a FIS licence, it just came through this week.]

The next race in the series is a sprint at the Snow Farm on Saturday, where most of the US male sprint team is set to compete, including their two red group skiers Torin Koos and Andrew Newell.


Ben Sim leading Snow Farm 15km classic
(Andrew Johnson and Geofrroy Pais hidden)
Photo: Pete Vordenberg

 KAC
The 2006 KAC race from Perisher Valley to Charlotte's pass was held yesterday. Apparently it was sunny weather but very windy, and the start was moved up to Betts Creek because of snow conditions on the road. Chris Darlington won the event for the first time, ahead of Anthony Evans who reportedly did most of the work at the front into the wind. The first woman was KT Calder, recently returned from her training base in Switzerland. In the classic section Matt Murtagh was the first man, and Camille Melvey the first woman. More details are available on the NSW Ski Association site (www.nswski.com.au in the link doesn't work; click on the cross country section for all the latest reports from Warren McCourt).

Sundeck Cup
The Sundeck Cup was held today at Perisher Valley, a handicap race that was introduced to the NSW race week program last winter. Competitors are seeded and started in reverse order, with all proceeds from the race going towards the Towards 2010 fundraising program. This year's event had 50 competitors and was won by Diana Dennison, with Callum Watson recording the fastest ski time. With additional funds raised through a dinner at the Sundeck back in June, Sundeck owner Cliff Wallis handed over a cheque for $4,000 for Towards 2010 after the race, which will go towards international expenses of Australian athletes aiming for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Again, more details are available on the NSW Ski Association site.


August 7 - Perisher Valley Action

Australian Sprint Championship
For the first time ever an international guest has won the Australian Sprint Championship, which took place in Perisher Valley on Saturday August 5th. Geoffroy Pais from France came from behind in the men's A-final to secure victory, ahead of a dead-heat for second between brothers Mark and Neil van der Ploeg. In the women's sprint Esther Bottomley took out her 6th Australian Sprint title ahead of Chloe McConville and KT Calder.

Ben Sim won the men's qualifying time trial by 0.07 of a second from Pais, with Nick Grimmer third 0.41 behind. Grimmer was knocked out in the semi-final by Pais and Mark van der Ploeg, who qualified 6th but seemed to be getting stronger as the rounds progressed. From the other semi-final Neil van der Ploeg and Sim came through ahead of Tim Retchford and Duane Butcher. Mark van der Ploeg took the early lead in the A-final, with brother Neil and Pais on his tail. Sim didn't get a great start and after the first downhill was off the back. The second time up the hill Pais moved up into second and Sim regained contact with the pack, only to lose it again as they came over the top. Pais glided up level with Mark VDP on the downhill and set himself up for the win by taking the inside on the last corner. Pushed a little wide Mark VDP lost some momentum which opened the door for a fast finishing Neil VDP. The younger brother caught the older right on the line, and the video replay showed their boots hitting the line at exactly the same moment.

In the women's sprint Bottomley was well clear in the time trial, with McConville and Calder within 0.4 of second of each other in 2nd and 3rd. Aimee Watson held off Belinda Phillips in the first semi-final to make the A-final with Bottomley, while Calder and McConville had no trouble in their semi-final. Bottomley made a break right from the start in the A-final, leaving the others to fight it out for second. Calder led McConville up the hill the second time, then half way up McConville tried to make a passing manouevre that brought Calder down. McConville kept her feet and went clear into second place, while Watson caught Calder as she was gettting back up. Calder came back at the end to take third place but couldn't catch McConville. The race jury reviewed the incident but no action was taken.

In the Australian Interstate Sprint Relay Championship in the afternoon the NSW combination of Ben Sim and Chris Darlington were too strong for the Victorian teams of brothers van der Ploeg and Nick Grimmer / Duane Butcher. In the women's field Victoria won with Esther Bottomley and McConville finishing ahead of the Victoria/Sweden combination of Belinda Phillips and Malin Redlig, with another Victorian team Georgia Merritt and Felice Beitzel taking third.

Australian 10/15km Classic Championship
The next day Ben Sim came out firing to make up for his performance in the sprint. The 21-year-old from Cooma blitzed the field in the 15km Classic, winning by over 3 minutes ahead of his NSWIS team-mate Chris Darlington. Darlington had a close race with Frenchman Geoffroy Pais, with the lead swapping a couple of times before Darlington forged ahead on the final 5km lap. Fourth place and third Australian went to Nick Grimmer, who just squeezed in under 10% behind Sim. The race was held on a modified 5km loop that included the top section of the normal Perisher 7.5km loop.

In the women's 10km Classic it was quite close early on between Esther Bottomley and Aimee Watson, with the first half of the 5km loop mostly uphill. However Bottomley was stronger on the flats and downs and began to steadily draw ahead. The 23-year-old went on to add her second distance Australian Championship title to her 6 sprint titles. Watson took second, with third place going to Belinda Phillips. Fourth place went to d'Arcy Baxter ahead of Camille Melvey.

Boonoona Open
The official start of NSW race week, the Boonoona Open was held on Sunday August 6th after the Australian 10/15km on the same course. d'Arcy Baxter won the women's 5km classic, Chris Darlington won the men's 5km classic just ahead of Nick Almoukov, Ben Sim won the men's 5km freestyle, and Camille Melvey came from behind to win the women's 5km freestyle ahead of Michele McFarlane.

Hotham to Dinner Plain
Meanwhile back in Victoria the Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub to Pub was held on marginal snow on Saturday August 5th. Cameron Morton won the men's event ahead of Simon Flower and Chris Rishworth, with U14 junior skier Aislinn Kildea the first woman across the line. More details and results available on the Hotham to Dinner Plain Website.


August 3 - Pub to Pub Update

The Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub to Pub race will be on this weekend - see this update today from race organiser Mick Sinclair:

We WILL run on Saturday - but once again it is going to be marginal. About 1 deg in Dinner Plain this morning and trying to snow, but only the occasional flurry at the moment. Last night's snow didn't really eventuate - what a surprise for this season - but at least it's not raining. I just had a ski from the Picnic Area to the start of Paw Paw Plain and back and while there's plenty of dodging tufts of grass on the climbs and descents, the flat run through the trees near Paw Paw is actually quite enjoyable. For those who vemtured out last year, the marginal areas are proabably slightly less marginal, and the good areas aren't as well covered. So definitely a day for your rockhoppers, but the weather looks good for Saturda, so we may as well give it a go. Without further snowfalls, Greg won't be able to groom much past Whiskey Flat, but the skiing is pretty good from Hotham to there. The option of postponing 2 weeks isn't particularly appealing, as predicted warm sunny weather next week could pretty much destroy what cover there is.

So, cover is marginal, you will need to dodge numerous tufts of grass and the occasional rock, and there will be bare patches. It is NOT the day to try out your new super duper I-never-want-to-scratch-these-bases skis. However given that, what snow there is is in good condition and you can still have a great time.

Registration is the usual procedure - at the General at Hotham from 9.00 to 10.30 am, with the race due to start at 11.00. Entry is $15 adults and $5 juniors, and as always we will transport a SMALL day pack etc for you to the finish. PLEASE take the opportunity to pre-register on the website now - it makes a big difference in allowing us to run on time. I'll take on-line entries up until 4 pm on Fri. Will try to do a final update on Friday but will depend on what's happening. Hope to see a good crowd of you on Saturday.

p.s. We've just had about 45 mins of snowfall - things may improve a bit yet!

cheers

Mick Sinclair
Hotham to Dinner Plain (Pub to Pub) Ski Race

Perisher Update
Snowfalls last week and this week mean that the Australian Championship events at Perisher Valley this weekend should be back on the normal competition courses. More details will be available from the race office at the Sverre Kaaten Nordic Shelter - the start time for the Sprint on Saturday is at 9:30 and late entries will be taken up until 8:45.


July 30 - Happy Birthday

A big day of birthdays today in Australian skiing with many times Australian Champion Camille Melvey turning 40, current Australian Champion Ben Sim turning 21, and Wangaratta Ski Club's Leon Spiller turning 28. Sim celebrated his birthday with a win today in the Australian 30km Championship at Falls Creek, while Spiller almost pulled off an incredible pre-birthday upset in the Victorian Sprint Championship and national selection race yesterday. More details of racing below, but first special thanks to Falls Creek Ski Lifts who arranged for cheap chair-lift access to the top of the resort for the events over the weekend, and to the Falls Creek Resort for the course grooming.

Australian 15/30km Championships, July 30
The first races of the 2006 Australian Championships for cross country skiing were held today in Falls Creek in North-East Victoria. Ben Sim outclassed the rest of the field with a resounding victory in the men's 30km Freestyle event. In the women's 15km Freestyle Esther Bottomley shrugged off her sprint specialist mantle to win her first distance Australian title. Both events were held on a 7.5km loop on the upper trails at Falls Creek. Conditions were not quite ideal, with steady winds, fog, and snow falling throughout the race. However in sheltered sections of the course the skiing was actually quite good, and the few spectators out there were witness to a very high quality competition with good depth back through the fields.

Four-time Kangaroo Hoppet winner Ben Derrick was only skier to match Sim over the first few kilometers, before paying the price and dropping back to form a two-person chase group with Sim's NSW Institute of Sport team-mate Chris Darlington. All sorts of things happened further back in the field, with large packs forming and breaking up and various skiers working their way up and down from place 4 through to 16. The main constant was Sim's lead continuing to grow throughout the race, and he celebrated his 21st birthday with an impressive 4 minute and 42 second winning margin. Derrick and Darlington worked together to secure their podium positions, before Darlington made his own break on the last lap to take second place 1 minute 7 seconds ahead. Victorian junior Neil van der Ploeg got up for 4th place ahead of our French guest Geoffroy Pais.

Bottomley has won the Australian Sprint Championship six times, but never an open national event over 1km until today. The main competition to Bottomley came from former Kangaroo Hoppet winners Belinda Phillips and Camille Melvey, and from top juniors Aimee Watson and Chloe McConville. Melvey lead early on into the wind before dropping back out of contention, leaving the remaining four in a pack until Bottomley broke clear on her own. The 23-year-old graphic design student went on to win by 51 seconds, with Watson out-lunging Phillips on the line for second place. McConville took 4th with U16 junior Juliette Booth coming up past Melvey to take 5th place.

In the Falls Creek Junior 5km event Phillip Bellingham and Chris Cook had a close battle, with Bellingham pipping Cook on the line, while Georgia Merritt won comfortably ahead of (a much younger) Aislinn Kildea from Wangaratta.

Full results soon...

Victorian Sprint Championships, July 29
The 2006 Victorian Sprint Championships for cross country skiing were held at Falls Creek on Saturday July 29. It was a day for the locals, with favourite Esther Bottomley winning the women's Sprint, and fellow Birkebeiner junior Neil van der Ploeg upstaging the men's field to win the men's Sprint. The sprint championships were held in classic technique on the Mt McKay Loop on the upper Falls Creek trails. Conditions were challenging for organisers with fog and steady wind throughout the event, however the snow was in good shape and provided for close and exciting racing.

Bottomley won the qualifying time trial 4 seconds clear from Victorian junior Chloe McConville, and had no trouble accounting for the rest of the field during the head-to-head finals. McConville looked strong in the semi-finals, however was knocked down to third place in the A-final behind NSW Institute of Sport junior Aimee Watson. Fourth placed d'Arcy Baxter fell in the A-final and was out of contention for the medals. It was one of the stronger women's sprint fields in several years, with 10 athletes contesting the finals.

Leon Spiller from Wangaratta Ski Club won the qualifying time trial by nearly 3 seconds ahead of French junior skier Geoffroy Pais. After cut-throat quarter-final and semi-final racing where several senior Australian team members were eliminated, the A-final consisted of the top four qualifiers; Spiller, Pais, van der Ploeg, and Ben Sim. Spiller led early on but as they came up the hill out of the fog in the last 100m it was down to a neck and neck battle between Sim and van der Ploeg. Sim drew up level but van der Ploeg dug deep and surged back to take the win by just one metre. The win was van der Ploeg's first in an open state or national championship and looks promising for the 2007 World Junior Championship where the sprint event is also in classic technique. Sim just missed out on qualifying for the finals in the classic Sprint at the 2005 World Junior Championships in Finland.

In the younger class competitions Phillip Bellingham won the U16 boys category ahead of Cale Podubinski, while twins Juliette and Alicia Booth from Kew finished first and second in the U16 girls category. In U12 the winners were Anna Trnka and Jack Hayson.

Full results soon...

Cross country racing action continues next weekend with the Australian Sprint and 10/15km Classic events at Perisher Valley in NSW.


July 28 - Two Routes To The Top

A quick note from organisers of the Victorian and Australian Championship events on at Falls Creek this weekend. Two routes up to the race start on the McKay Loop are recommended. The first is to walk up the side of the Wombats Ramble to the McKay Road and to ski from there. It is preferential for those taking this route to ski and not to walk on the alpine skiing home trail. The other alternative is to take the Gully Chair up to the the Village Bowl and to purchase a special price ticket up the Eagle Chair. From there it is about 500m to the start area. This is special offer that is only on this weekend, thanks to the generosity of the Falls Creek Ski Lift company. But don't forget that you still need to pick up your race bibs at Windy Corner.

Snow in NSW
Good news up at Perisher Valley with a decent dump of snow during the week which has enabled all the normal trails to be groomed. All just in time for the Cabramurra Tour, which has been moved from Cabramurra to Perisher this Saturday.


July 26 - Races On At Falls Creek

Organisers of the Victorian Sprint Championships and Australian 15/30km Championship have advised that the competitions will be held at Falls Creek this weekend as planned. The McKay Loop and Pretty Valley trails were groomed again yesterday during a short snowstorm, and a good freeze overnight saw the tracks in very good condition today. National Team members took part in a practise sprint session this morning on the likely course for Saturday's classic sprint, and if the weather was like today then it will be no problem to run high quality competitions. The upper Falls Creek trails can be very exposed however, so participants are advised to come equipped for all conditions.

Because the start/finish area for Saturday's race is now up the top in the Link Lift area, the start time of the sprint time trial has been moved back to 10:30AM to allow an extra 30minutes for competitors to get up to the start. However the race office will still be at Windy Corner for race bib collection and late entries.

Anonymous Time Trial
While all the action was going on at Perisher Valley last weekend an anonymous time trial was held at Falls Creek on a 7.5km loop that is under consideration for the 15/30km championships coming up this weekend. The results of this mass start 15km freestyle race, on lightning fast snow apparently, have been reported as follows:

33:32 - old bastard
34.40 - operation 84
34:58 - marshmallow
35:07 - mountain goat
36:02 - mr quads
37ish - flipperman

All participants in the time trial were male, and have been either on the National Team or a National Development Squad in the last 7 years. The first or closest successful naming of all participants sent in to bbderrick @hotmail.com will win a Falls Creek hat (the participants themselves are excluded from applying).


July 25 - ACT/NSW Championships

The ACT and NSW championships were held at Perisher Valley on the weekend, incorporating the first junior selection events of the season. Snow conditions were marginal, however with some shovelling and innovative track design two different courses were put together for the classic and freestyle events. Special thanks to Ken Baxter and his snowmobile for all the tracksetting. The classic races on Saturday were the ACT Championships, Sunday's freestyle races were the NSW Championships.

In the open classes there were four different overall winners on the weekend, with Ben Sim from Cooma winning the 10km classic, Aimee Watson from Cooma the 5km classic, Geoffroy Pais from France the 10km freestyle, and Esther Bottomley from Mt Beauty the 5km freestyle. However the focus was more on the junior races which were the first national junior selection events of the season. Aimee Watson topped the junior women's events on both days, winning the classic outright and finishing second behind Bottomley in the freestyle. Discounting Pais (who is apparently the #4 ranked junior in France), who is ineligible for Australian Junior Team selection, Victorian Neil van der Ploeg cleaned up in the junior men's events, taking second place overall behind Ben Sim in the classic and third place overall behind Pais and Chris Darlington in the freestyle.

It was a closer competition for the minor places in the junior 5km and 10km events (actually it was closer to 4km and 8km but lets call it literary licence). D'Arcy Baxter from Berridale took second place comfortably ahead of Juliette Booth from MLC in the 5km classic, then Booth reversed the places by just 2 seconds in the freestyle. Similarly Simon Flower from Mt Beauty was easily second Australian junior in the 10km classic, but faced strong challenges in the 10km freestyle from NSW Junior Team guys Alex Almoukov and Callum Watson. With some to and fro over four laps Almoukov ended up third just 10 seconds behind Flower, with Watson another 18 seconds further back.

In the younger classes Juliette Booth and Paul Kovacs won the U16 on both days, Brendan Jones and Allistair Tutt won one each in the U14 boys, Laura Bull won the U14 girls, Bridgette Cunningham and Siobhan Jones split the U12 girls, and Jack Hayson won the U12 boys.

Full results coming soon.


July 19 - Junior Selection Races

In answer to much speculation, the ACT Senior & Junior Championships will be conducted at Perisher Valley this Saturday 22 July as planned. The race is a classic style race and will be conducted from the FIS homologated start/finish area above the Perisher nordic shelter. An approx imate 5km course will be prepared and skidoo packed on Friday and it is planned to follow large sections of the 5 & 7.5km trails. Athletes who haven't entered yet should contact Peter Cunningham on 0411 129 363.

Because of the lack of snow a decision on the NSW freestyle championships programmed for Sunday will be made after the conclusion of the race on Saturday. It is highly unlikely that there will be a machine groomed course (but organisers are still hopeful) and the best chance will still be a skidoo packed track. There have been good cold snaps so the snow that we have is reasonably good. Entries for the Sunday race will also be taken on Saturday after the decision is made.

Anyone seeking additional information should contact Peter Cunningham on 0411 129 363 or Peter Ward on 02 6457 1161.


July 18 - Cooma Open

The Cooma Open went ahead last Sunday at Perisher Valley on limited rain affected snow. Held on the upper sections of the Perisher trails, the race was won by French junior skier Geoffroy Pais, who is out here training for a couple of months. The first Australian was Ewan Watson, and first female Aimee Watson. More details are available on the NSW Ski Association site.

Decision On Junior Selection Races
This coming weekend the first Australian Junior Team selection races are scheduled to be held at Perisher Valley. Organisers have indicated that it could be possible for a classic race to be run on the course used for the Cooma Open, however a definite decision is set to be made on Wedneday night.


July 16 - Victorian Junior Championships

The 2006 Victorian Junior Championships for cross country skiing were held this weekend July 15-16 at Falls Creek. This was the first championship event of the season. In the open junior classes Chloe McConville from Myrtleford won the women's 5km events, and Neil van der Ploeg from Mt Beauty won the men's 10km events. Both skiers are members of the Australian Junior Team and will be vying for selection to the 2007 World Junior Championships next January.

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 Wangaratta Ski Club on behalf of the Victorian Snowsports Association. Despite a marginal season for snow so far, race organisers and Ross Forrest the Falls Creek head groomer did a great job in putting good courses together and keeping the races run on the lower trails.

Van der Ploeg was the clear overall winner in the 10km each day, and on this early season form could challenge many of the Australian Team members in open competition this winter. McConville won the 5km classic quite comfortably, however had some tougher competition in the 5km freestyle. U16 skier Juliette Booth from Kew was very competitive today finishing only 12 seconds behind McConville, despite losing time with two falls during the race. Booth won the U16 class comfortably ahead of Hanna Rogers from Western Australia.

In the U18 competitions Simon Flower from Mt Beauty was the fastest on each day and ended up second open junior behind club team-mate van der Ploeg. Jaffa Withers from Bright also won on each day, coming from behind in the 5km freestyle to overtake Georgia Merritt from Ivanhoe in the last 300m.

In the U16 5km boy's events, the results were split each day, with Phillip Bellingham from Mt Beauty winning the classic event and Cale Podubinski from Wangaratta winning the freestyle event. Bellingham just edged ahead in the combined time by just 4 seconds over Podubinski.

In the U14 boy's class Alasdair Tutt won both classic and freestyle events, while in the U14 girls Ashleigh Spittle from Ivanhoe won the 2.5km classic and Aislinn Kildea from Wangaratta the 2.5km freestyle.

Full results coming soon.

Cooma Open
The word on the street was that the Cooma Open was held today on the upper sections of the normal Perisher Valley cross country trails, on a Ken Baxter packed course in classic technique. If anyone has any results or eyewitness report from the day, please send them in to marslandf @ compuserve.com


July 10 - Kalkite Road Time Trials

With snow a little scarce on the Perisher c ross country trails NSW XC Team members have been doing rollerski time trials on the Kalkite Road just out of Jindabyne. NSW coach Nick Almoukov has supplied the times from the last for the NSW Team athletes. Other junior members of the NSW squad also took part, though their times aren't listed here.

11km Freestyle

June 25 Time Trial

July 9 Time Trial

Ben Sim

27:56

27:24

Chris Darlington

30:39

29:57

Alex Almoukov

37:31

DNS

Nick Almoukov

34:15

33:14

Callum Watson

DNS

34:08

8km Freestyle

Aimee Watson

DNS

29:55

d'Arcy Baxter

32:06

30:03

Clare Bradbury

DNS

25:43

Sarah Slattery

DNS

34:02

It should be noted that Ben, Chris, Alex, and Nick have the same model rollerskis and wheels, while all the others had different rollerskis with different speeds. Note also that all athletes who did both time trials improved significantly on second time.


July 9 - Entry Form Frenzy

Over the last week there has been a backlog of emails from race organisers with entry forms to distribute. Entry forms for the following races are now available here for download:

Victorian Junior Championship - July 15/16
ACT Championships - July 22
NSW Championships - July 23
Victorian Sprint Championships - July 29
Australian 15/30km Championship - July 30
Australian Sprint Relay Championships - August 5
Australian 10/15km Championships - August 6
Australian 5/10km Championship - August 19/20

Falls Creek Time Trial
The High Plains Tour and Victorian Interclub Relays were cancelled by organisers this weekend because of the lack of snow in the Falls Creek Nordic Bowl, however conditions on the upper trails were actually very good and an unofficial time trial was held on Saturday morning. The format was freestyle technique and mass start, one or two anti-clockwise laps of the McKay Loop in freestyle technique. Despite protestations that he hasn't been training World Cup skier Ben Derrick showed that he will still be a formidable competitor this season, as he skied comfortably away from the younger skiers on the second lap. However some mellowness must be creeping in to BD in his old age (yes he is 33 now), as he eased up on the backside of the loop to allow Neil van der Ploeg to catch up. It is unsure if the plan was for Neil to outsprint him in the last 50m, in any case that was what happened.

2 loops (approx 9.0km)
25:05 - Neil van der Ploeg
25:05 - Ben Derrick
25:52 - Mark van der Ploeg
26:03 - Nick Grimmer
26:31 - David Hunt
26:35 - Simon Flower
27:02 - Leon Spiller
29:26 - Jean-Claude Legras
30:07 - Andrew Kovacs

1 lap (approx 4.5km)
16:24 - Malin Redlig
18:26 - Helen Hodge

Victorian Sprint Championships
A quick note about this event at the end of the month - the Victorian Sprints will be held in Classic technique, as indicated in the calendar on this site but contrary to some printed versions of the calendar that have been distributed.


July 7 - Paddy Pallin Junior

Apologies to the everyone involved in the Paddy Pallin Junior competion at Perisher Valley last weekend, which was reported on this site as being cancelled. The race was indeed held, here is the report from the race organisers (sent through on July 2 - not only did we get the facts wrong to start with, it took us nearly a week to fix it up!):

Those Cooma Hut lads might be resourceful but so are the Greville Boys! The Paddy Pallin went ahead on Saturday 1 July, with an exciting course set in Pretty Valley, just down from the Canberra Alpine Lodge. The course was approximately 700 metres and an interesting loop, but snow, rain, sleet and winds did unfortunately keep some competitors away! In total there were seven participants, ranging in age from 6 years to 14 years. All skiers enjoyed the first ski of the season and feasted on hot dogs and poppers after the race. Spot prizes were awarded to all participants and these were generously donated by Paddy Pallin. The infamous jelly snake hunt went ahead after lunch, with an indoor venue being used due to the difficult weather conditions. Thanks to the sponsors, Paddy Pallin, Buttercup Bakery in Cooma and of course the Canberra Alpine Club.

Results


July 1 - Now It Is Winter!

How can we tell? Because it says Winter News at the top of the page. And because cross country grooming has started! This week 10-15km of tracks have been groomed at Falls Creek, and just as well too as there have been large school groups up in what is the last week of the Victorian school holidays. First the Mckay Rd, McKay Loop, and the road out to Pretty Valley were packed and groomed for skating only, then on Wednesday night classic tracks were added up the top and the Nordic Bowl, Panorama Loop, and a couple of link tracks groomed as well. Yes there were patches of ground here and there and rocks sticking through ever more frequently as the week progressed, but in-between the skiing has actually been pretty good.

So that was the good news. The bad news is that there has been a lot of rain yesterday and today both in Victorian and in NSW. The Birkebeiner Classic race scheduled at Falls Creek today was cancelled because of patchy snow and high winds, and the Paddy Pallin Junior at Perisher Valley was also cancelled. Chances are the Ski di Femme at Falls Creek and the Cooma Clean out the Cobwebs at Perisher will follow the same fate tomorrow, though those Cooma lads have been resourceful in the past and who knows what they might come up with.

Victorian Junior Championships moved to Falls Creek
The Victorian Junior Championships that were originally scheduled to be held at Mt Hotham on July 15/16 have been moved to Falls Creek on the same date. The main reason for the change is that the Wangaratta Ski Club chief of race Ben Derrick is now working full time at Falls Creek, managing the cross country ski hire and ski school at Windy Corner.