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Winter News 2007
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September 3 - Kosciuszko Tour
September 1 - Sundeck / James Squire Dinner
August 27 - Winter Triathlon + Misc
August 26 - Kangaroo Hoppet
August 19 - Young Punks + Old Goats
August 15 - More Assorted Results

August 13 - Aus 10-15km Champs
August 11 - Aus Sprint Champs
August 8 - NSW Race Week Action
August 7 - Random Racing Reports
August 6 - Two Laps Good, Four Laps Baaaad
August 4 - Time Trials to AUS, Finals to JPN
August 3 - AUS-NZE Cup Opening
July 30 - Surprises at Perisher + More
July 24 - Upcoming Hotham Races
July 23 - Victorian Junior Results
July 20 - Darlo's Trash Talk Begins
July 17 - Old Dog, Old Tricks
July 12 - Links for Coming Races
July 10 - More Racing News
July 7 - Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs
June 27 - Hoppet Earlybird Entries Close
June 25 - Lake Mountain + Perisher Pics
June 19 - Falls Pics + National Testing Camp
June 13 - Wilderness Sports Reports
June 7 - Grooming Started At Falls Creek

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Spring Reports 2007



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Winter 2007 Updates

September 3 - Kosciuszko Tour

Friday's rain fall made bulletproof ice conditions for the 2007 Kosciuszko Tour on Sunday September 2. This year the 18km race from Thredbo to Perisher was held in classic technique. With such icy conditions a few brave souls decided to put the skate skis on and double pole the entire event.

Strong winds hammered the first 500m climb out of Thredbo which made double polling very hard but the classic skiers didn't have grip anyway because the tracks were like glass. Ben Sim made a break up the first hill (apparently with a new secret technique) leaving Anthony Evans, Chris Darlington and Alex Almoukov to take up the chase. Ant came over the top in second place, and held on until 4km to go when Darlo caught and smashed him on the last uphill to Perisher Gap. Darlo was double poling while Ant had fish-scales. Alex lost his glasses early on and chased them back down the hill, losing too much to catch back onto Darlo. In the women Camille Melvey cleaned up with no problem and actually doing very well overall in 5th place.

Full results and a more detailed report are available on the Canberra Cross Country website.

September 1 - Sundeck / James Squire Dinner

In two weeks' time on Saturday September 15 the Sundeck Hotel at Perisher Valley together with the James Squire brewery is holding a fund raising dinner for the National XC Ski Team. The cost of the dinner is $50 per head, with all proceeds going to the XC Towards 2010 fund. This is the second year that Cliff Wallis from the Sundeck has put on this fund raising event, which together with the Sundeck Handicap Cup in NSW race week contributes more to the Towards 2010 fund than all other sources put together.

Chuck Hahn from James Squire is the guest speaker at the dinner, which includes a three course meal and tasting of four James Squire beers. The beers are matched up with each course, and amongst other things Chuck Hahn will share his special tips for beer tasting.

The dinner starts at the Sundeck Hotel at 7:00PM. Places can be booked by calling or emailing the Sundeck via the following contact details:

Sundeck Hotel
Tel: 02 64575222
Email: sundeck@acr.net.au

August 27 - Winter Triathlon + Misc

Hotham Winter Triathlon
The 2007 Hotham Winter Triathlon is scheduled for Saturday September 8. Featuring a run, a bike and a cross-country ski, this multi-sport event takes place in Dinner Plain surrounded by the magnificent Alpine National Park. Plenty of great prizes are up for grabs and each and every competitor gets a race jersey to keep and a certificate of completion. This is the only winter triathlon event in Australia.

Distances will be approximately 7km for the run, 12km for the bike, and 10km for the ski. Entries can be made individually or as a team of three. Entry forms, cross-country ski clinics and more information are available at: www.hotham.com.au/tri.

FIS Australia New Zealand Cup
The Kangaroo Hoppet was the final event in the 2007 FIS Australia New Zealand Cup (ANC). Australians Paul Murray and Katherine Calder won the series, which gives them an all expenses paid quota place on World Cup throughout the 2007-2008 season provided they satisfy the qualification standard. Murray is already qualified for sprint World Cup events, while Calder needs to re-qualify in December. Ben Sim's second place in the Hoppet moved him up into second place in the ANC ahead of Tomio Kanamaru from Japan. Second placed woman was Esther Bottomley, ahead of 2006 ANC winner Samantha Bondarenko from New Zealand.

Women's Top 5 Standing:
1 - 620 - Katherine Calder, AUS
2 - 300 Esther Botttomley, AUS
3 - 230 - Samantha Bondarenko, NZE
4 - 210 - Aimee Watson, AUS
5 - 200 - Sumiko Yokoyama, JPN

Men's Top 5 Standing:
1 - 420 - Paul Murray, AUS
2 - 300 - Ben Sim, AUS
3 - 280- Tomio Kanamaru, JPN
3 - 196 - Takashi Koyama, JPN
5 - 174 - Chris Darlington, AUS

Full ANC Standings

Paul Murray Skating Clinic
National Team member Paul Murray is offering a free skating clinic at Falls Creek.on Saturday September 1. There will be a one and half hour junior clinic starting at 9:30am and an adult clinic starting at 12:00pm. Ten spaces are available for each, beginners are welcome and bookings can be made with Paul on pmurrayoz @ gmail.com. Participants should meet at the waxing room at Windy Corner 5mins before start time.

August 26 - Kangaroo Hoppet

Thomas Freimuth from Germany and Katherine Calder from Canberra have won the 2007 Kangaroo Hoppet 42km. The Hoppet is the opening race of the 2007/2008 Worldloppet series of cross country skiing marathons, which are held in 14 countries around the world. A good freeze overnight saw the track hard and fast for the start, then softening under the sun during the day. Almost 1100 competitors from 22 countries entered in the three race distances of 42km, 21km, and 7km.

In the men's event six skiers broke away early on, including Freimuth, Adam Swank from the USA, 2006 runner-up Pascal Grab from Switzerland, and Australians Ben Sim from Cooma, Ben Derrick from Falls Creek and Chris Darlington from Jindabyne. Swank broke the pack up on the Paralyzer climb at the 12km mark, then Freimuth began a series of attacks over the top of the course that left him alone at the front with a short gap ahead of Sim. Grab started to have breathing problems from a rib injury caused by a fall earlier in the week, and after the 15km mark was only able to use one arm for the rest of the race. Sim was within 10-20 seconds of Freimuth until about the 30km mark when the elastic finally broke. Freimuth won in the time of 1:46:57, nearly two minutes ahead of Sim. Derrick skied up to Swank and the two worked together until they hit the Paralyzer for the second time, then Derrick had nothing left on the climb and it was all he could do to finish and hold onto fourth place ahead of Darlington in fifth.

Calder made a good start and already after Sun Valley had about a 30 second lead over Bottomley, Phillips, and Camille Melvey from Bondi. Her lead extended throughout the first 21km loop to be five minutes ahead of Bottomley, who had built up a 30 second lead over Phillips. Melvey dropped back through the field while Carla Zilstra-Evans from the Netherlands was moving up. Calder won in the time of 2:08:00, a massive 15 minutes ahead of Bottomley. Zijlstra-Evans took fourth place two minutes behind Phillips, with Irene Dunn from South Australia storming up through the field to take fifth and Samantha Bondarenko from New Zealand in sixth.

In the Australian Birkebeiner 21km event Alex Almoukov from Berridale was the first man across the line 40 seconds ahead of Simon Flower from Mt Beauty. Callum Watson from Cooma was over three minutes back in thrid place. Aimee Watson from Cooma was the first woman ahead of Chloe McConville from Myrtleford and Juliette Booth from Kew.

There was a sprint finish in the Joey Hoppet 7km event between Mark Pollock from Wangaratta and Phillip Bellingham from Mt Beauty, with Pollock overtaking over the last rise into the finish to take the win. Georgia Merritt from Ivanhoe was the first woman and third overall in the 7km. Anna Trnka from Mt Beauty just held off Aislinn Kildea from Wangaratta to take second place in the women.

Full results are available on the Kangaroo Hoppet website.

August 19 - Young Punks + Old Goats

Australian Championship Freestyle Events - August 18
It was a combination of young and old at the top of the men's 10km freestyle at the Australian Championship on Saturday August 18, with the ages of the top six places reading 22, 38, 17, 34, 30, 25. Ben Sim topped the result list with his second distance title of the season, with Winter Olympian ('92, '94, and '98) Anthony Evans taking second place ahead of 17-year-old Alex Almoukov. Four-time Kangaroo Hoppet winner Ben Derrick was jibbed out of the podium by Almoukov for the second race in a row, taking 4th place just 3 seconds back, while last week's 15km champion Paul Murray managed just 5th place a nose ahead of Chris Darlington. The track at Perisher Valley was fast, intially firm but then softening under the sun.

In the women's 5km freestyle KT Calder with the second place battle this time between Aimee Watson and Esther Bottomley. Watson managed to build up a lead of 20 seconds over Bottomley in the first half of the race, but Bottomley pulled it back in the closing kilometre to be just 7 seconds behind at the finish. Chloe McConville was up in contention for the podium early on but blew up before the top of the course and dropped back to 5th place behind Camille Melvey. In the younger junior classes of the women's 5km d'Arcy Baxter had a good day to win the U18 Australian title ahead of Juliette Booth, while Aislinn Kildea won the U16 title.

Phillip Bellingham won the U16 junior men's 5km freestyle ahead of Robert Jones, Alasdair Tutt won the U14 2.5km freestyle, and Jack Hayson won the U12. Anna Trnka won the U14 girls' 2.5km just 1.6 seconds ahead of Siobhan Jones and 7.8 seconds ahead of Lucy Glanville, and Tilley Pascoe won the U12 girls' 2.5km.

Full results.

Australian Championship Classic Events - August 19
Paul Murray came out with his race of the season to win the men's 10km classic at the Australian Championshipat Perisher Valley today. He stormed out of the start and already after 3.5km had a 25 second lead over 10km freestyle winner Ben Sim. On the second lap Murray's victory was already a foregone conclusion and there was more interest in the rest of the podium. Alex Almoukov had the earliest start number of the top five and was posting the leading times, only to be knocked down consecutively by Chris Darlington, Neil van der Ploeg, and Sim. Darlo worked hard on the second lap and was within 10 seconds of Sim, but Sim pulled everything out over the top of the course to secure second place, 1:25 behind Murray. Van der Ploeg had fast skis, re-taking Sim on the long downhill after being overtaken and dropped, and took fourth place behind Darlingon and ahead of Almoukov.

\KT Calder made it back to back wins in the 5km classic, but had a scare early on the race as Watson was within 5 seconds at the half-way mark. Calder made good time on Watson over the top of the course and on the last downhill to win by 31 seconds. Bottomley also regained time on Watson in the last kilometre, skiing up to third place after lagging behind juniors Chloe McConville and Juliette Booth mid-race. McConville had a setback before the start of the race when she collided heavily with another skier during her warm-up and banged her head. McConville and Booth were neck and neck most of the race but McConville skied the last downhills faster to take fourth place 10 seconds ahead of Booth.

In the younger classes Aislinn Kildea and Phillip Bellingham won the U16 5km events once again, Alasdair Tutt won the U14 boys' 2.5km classic, Lucy Glanville won the U14 girls 2.5km after another close race with Siobhan Jones and Anna Trnka, Tilly Pascoe won the U12 girls' 2.5km, and Lachlan Porter won the U12 boys' 2.5km.

Full results.

August 15 - More Assorted Results

Snowy Mountains Classic
The Snowy Mountains Classic and assorted distances (Guthries Gallop, Rock Creek Rush, and Wombat Ramble) took place at Perisher Valley last Saturday August 11. The only reports we have are from the results, and a guy name Murray Bennett was the comprehensive winner in the men's 30km Snowy Mountains Classic, winning by almost 10 minutes ahead of the first woman Camille Melvey. In the Guthries Gallop Michelle McFarlane took one back for the women, winning the race over 5 minutes ahead of the first man Steve Osbourne. In the Rock Creek Rush Adrian Blake was the first man, and Bridgette Cunnigham the first woman. Alexandra Simpson was first across the line the Wombat Ramble.

Full results

St Phillack and Tullicoutty Cups
There was keen competition in the Tullicoutty and St Phillack Cross Country Races held at Mt Baw Baw on Sunday August 12th. Mt Baw Baw has had plenty of snow this year and a light dusting of fresh powder over the trails early on Sunday provided an excellent surface on the well groomed course. Light snow fell as entries were taken but 52 skiers entered, aged from a junior aged 7 to veterans in their 70s amongst the many regulars who compete.

In the 8km St Phillack Cup Tim Fryer was the first man and Janetta Davis the first woman. In the5km Tullicoutty Cup the first man was Justin McMahon and the first woman Carloyn Morris. There was keen competition amongst the Mt Baw Baw Interclub and the VSA Vic Interclub sections of the competition. Edski won the Mt Baw Baw Interclub, while Team Gwinear won the Vic Interclub series.

Full results

Boonoona Open
A summary of the race was listed in the August 7 report, now the full results are up.

August 13 - Australian 10-15km Championship

In an upset result Paul Murray won the 15km Freestyle Australian Championship event at Falls Creek yesterday August 12, just eight seconds ahead of Ben Sim. KT Calder won the 10km Freestyle ahead of Esther Bottomley. In contrast to the rainy conditions on Saturday the races were held in sunny weather, on initially rock hard tracks that softened during the men's race.

Starting as the back marker in the 30 second interval start Calder built up a 30 second lead in the first 3km over Chloe McConville and Bottomley. Australian 15km champion from two weeks ago Aimee Watson was a further 15 second back in fourth place. While Calder was extending her lead on the second 5km lap Mconville and Bottomley continued neck and neck, with only one second separating the two as they headed out into Sun Valley the second time. Unfortunately McConville ran out of steam on the last couple of hills and starting losing time, just at the same time that Calder caught Bottomley from 1:30 behind. Calder went about 15m in front but Bottomley dug deep and held that gap for the last 1.5km to the finish to take a clear second place behind Calder. McConville dropped 40 seconds to Bottomley over the last 2km, just holding onto third place 12 second ahead of Watson.

Murray and Sim were within 10 seconds of each other the entire race, but it looked like Sim would have the upper hand as he went into the last 1.5km with a six second lead. However Murray had something left to give, and buried himself over the last kilometre to turn his deficit into an eight second victory. After the race he gave credit to his fast skis, which were noted also by spectators in the stadium as skiers were lapping. This was the first distance Australian Championship win for Murray, whose previous closest chance was back in 1998 when he finished second to current National Coach Finn Marsland by 15 seconds at Perisher Valley. Third place went to 17-year-old junior Alex Almoukov, who as a late entrant started at the front of the field and wasn't taken into full account by coaches giving time splits on the side of the track. Chris Darlington was up in third place for the first half of the race, but faded badly on the last lap to drop to 7th place. Ben Derrick finished strongly to account for Victorian juiors Neil van der Ploeg and Simon Flower and take 4th place.

FIS Australia New Zealand Cup
With four races down out of seven in the 2007 FIS Australia New Zealand Cup KT Calder has a clear lead over Japanese skier Sumiko Yokoyama. Paul Murray climbed up 100 points with his win in the Australian Sprint to be now just 5 points behind Tomio Kanamaru of Japan. The ANC continues next weekend with the Australian 5/10km Championship at Perisher Valley in NSW, and concludes with the Kangaroo Hoppet on the last Sturday of August at Falls Creek.

Women's Top 5 Standing:
1 - 320 - Katherine Calder, AUS
2 - 200 - Sumiko Yokoyama, JPN
3 - 190 - Samantha Bondarenko, NZE
4 - 170 - Andrea Fancy, NZE
5 - 130 - Natalie Cobby, NZE

Men's Top 5 Standing:
1 - 280- Tomio Kanamaru, JPN
2 - 275 - Paul Murray, AUS
3 - 196 - Takashi Koyama, JPN
4 - 110 - Nat Anglem, NZE
5 - 109 - Ronald Carmichael, GBR

Full Continental Cup Standings

Australian Sprint Championship Podium- KT Calder, Esther Bottomley, and Chloe McConville

August 11 - Australian Sprint Championship

Esther Bottomley and Paul Murray won the 2007 Australian Sprint Championships today at Falls Creek. The 1km freestyle events were part of the 2007 FIS Australia - New Zealand Continental Cup series. Rain falling steadily throughout the event made for unpleasant conditions for competitors and spectators, however the racing was exciting with some close finishes in the men's side of the field.

Bottomley won the women's time trial, with KT Calder in second just 0.02 of a second ahead of junior Chloe McConville in third. One second separated 4th from 8th place. Aimee Watson from 8th place managed to join the fastest three qualifiers in the A-Final. Bottomley lead right from the start, while Calder was slow off the blocks and dropped back to third. Bottomley broke away over the top of the course, with McConville also dropping Calder. Calder took back time in the second half of the race, but it was wasn't enough. The final placings Bottomley, McConville, Calder, Watson. No women's B-final was held due to reluctance of athletes to hang around in the rain getting cold.

Murray won the qualifying time trial ahead of Ben Sim, with Nick Grimmer and van der Ploeg brothers Mark and Neil close behind. International competitors Gaber Lah from Slovenia and Ron Carmichael from Great Britain were knocked out the quarter finals, together with 7th ranked Chris Darlington who was knocked out by 10th ranked Leon Spiller. Former Kangaroo Hoppet winners Sim and Ben Derrick were knocked out in the semi-finals, leaving Mark and Neil VDP, Murray, and Spiller in the final. Murray broke the field up over the top of the course, but Neil VDP closed back to within 5m with 300m to go. Unfortunately Neil VDP slipped and fell on the final corner into the finish straight, giving Murray the win on a plate. Mark overtook brother Neil to take second place, but Neil was up quick enough to hold onto third place ahead of Spiller. Derrick won the B-Final in a photo-finish over Sim.

In the U16 sprint events Phillip Bellingham won the junior men's final comfortably ahead of Robert Jones and Alasdair Tutt, while Anna Trnka won the junior women's final ahead of Aislinn Kildea and Laura Bull. The U12 boy's final was won by Lachlan Porter.

Full Results are up.

Tomorrow the Australian Championships continue at Falls Creek with the women's 10km freestyle event and men's 15km freestyle event. Conditions are expected to be wet again

August 8 - NSW Race Week Action

KAC Classic, August 8
The KAC Cross Country Classic from Perisher Valley to Charlotte's Pass has experienced all sorts of weather conditions over the years, and the 2007 event held today kept the tradition going. Strong winds with gusts up to 120km/hr greeted the participants and made for a tactical race amongst the top contenders. Ben Sim and Chris Darlington did most of the work into the wind in the first half of the race, bringing along Anthony Evans and Alex Almoukov with them. Slovenian Gaber Lah was dropped relatively early on. Evans took over at the front, and putting in an effort going up Sugerloaf dropped Darlington. Evans continued to lead on the downhill after Sugarloaf, then Sim took over again on the flat and slight climb up towards Charlotte's. It was a three way all out sprint over the last 200m, with Almoukov coming out on top and Evans outlunging Sim for second. Carla Zijlstra was the first woman, ahead of Sally Cunningham and d'Arcy Baxter. Apparently 30-odd people were rescued during the race because of the winds.

NordiX, August 7
A short verbal report from Ben Sim on the Nordic Cross event on Tuesday, held. With only a small number of participants the 4-person final for the NordiX was run three times. The result was pretty much the same each time - Gaber Lah from Slovenia lead on the downhill section, Sim took over the lead on the U-turn back up the hill because Lah couldn't turn, Alex Almoukov was 20m off the back after the downhill section because he can't ski downhill but came through to overtake Lah just before the line. Brendan Jones won the junior final.

NSW Night Relays, August 6
Boonoona Ski Club with the extremely fast team of Chris Darlington, Alex and Nick Almoukov, and Camille Melver took out the 2007 NSW Night Relays on Monday. Second place went to Canberra Alpine Club with Ben Sim, Tim Greville, Sally Cunningham, and ring-in Gaber Lah, with Cooma Ski Club third with Anthony Evans, Paul Ecclestone, Mick Wieland, and Adrian Blake.

Tomorrow cross country racing continues at Perisher Valley with the Sundeck Cup, a handicap event with all proceeds going to the Towards 2010 fundraising program for the National Team.

August 7 - Random Racing Reports

Hotham to Dinner Plain, August 4
The 2007 Hotham to Dinner Plain on Saturday August 4 was hotly contested this year with a number of National Team members and other skiers looking for a good hit out before nationals next weekend. It proved to be a tough race with seasoned campaigners Cameron Morton and Ben Derrick taking on pretenders to the crown Neil van der Pleog, Leon Spiller and Simon Flower. For it was the same in the women with Belinda Phillips hoping to hold out for another year against the likes of Jaffa Withers and Penelope Grose.

The race started at an absolute sprint and any thoughts of a pack race were thrown out the window when Ben Derrick kept the pace going after the road crossing, opening up a 20 second lead which broke up the chase group. Derrick surged again when they hit the hills with Morton and Flower working together to chase him down. Flower broke away from Morton at the 5km mark and started reeling in the rapidly tiring Derrick. With 1km to go the lead had been reduced to 5 seconds and it looked like Flower would give Derrick his first defeat in the event since 1993. But Derrick kicked again towards the finish line and hung on for an exhaustive win. Flower finished only a few seconds behind with Morton 30 sec further back. This was a great result from Flower and he is showed that he will be hunting for a medal amongst the seniors in the National 15km this weekend. Spiller and van der Pleog fought for the entire race which came down to van der Pleog edging out Spiller in a sprint to the line for 4th and 5th. The winning time for the 12km event was just under 28minutes.

Amongst the leading women Withers started hard but was quickly reeled in by Phillips who skied away from the field on the hills throughout the course. Phillips proved she could be the dark horse at nationals this weekend winning easily by three minutes from Withers, with the consistent Penelope Grose rounding out the top three a further 43 seconds back.

Results are available on the Hotham to Dinner Plain website.

Cabramurra Tour, August 4
The 2007 Cabramurra Tour on Saturday August 4 made a break from recent tradition and was actually held at Cabramurra. 40 skiers took part in the competition. Ben Sim and Chris Darlington had a close race in the 14km event, with Sim winning by just 9 seconds. Darlington double-poled most of the race after blowing the wax. Camille Melvey won by literally a mile (or more) in the women's category, ahead of Sally Cunningham. Lucy Glanville won the 7km junior event.

More details (and possibly a link to the results) are available on the NSW Ski Association website.

Birkebeiner Sprints, August 5
The Birkebeiner Sprints on Sunday August 5 at Falls Creek were held on the course that will be used for nationals next weekend and gave all the athletes a good look at the course and how tactics will lead to a good result. With fresh snow overnight the groomer started early and the track was hard and fast for the rest of the day.

In the time trial Neil van der Ploeg showed the form that won him the national sprint title last year by edging out Nick Grimmer by a couple of seconds. Not far behind were Leon Spiller and Ronan Magaharan. The fastest skiers all made it through to the finals, despite a few falls which gave the slower skiers a real shot at mixing it with the big boys in the later rounds.

Semi final one pitted van der Ploeg, Magaharan, Cam Dickinson and Simon Flower against each other and any thoughts that anyone was here for an easy day evaporated when van der Ploeg flew out of the start, dragging Magaharan with him and dropping the other two skiers by the time they were 1 minute into the course. That was how they finished and were looking good for the final. In semi final two Grimmer started fast, with Spiller the only skier to go with him. Ben Derrick and Peter Malcom were well behind when they crossed the line when all attention turned to the final.

The final was always going to be fast and it was Grimmer who got the lead after the first steep climb. There was no let up in the pace as van der Ploeg was the only skier to go with him just forming a gap back to Spiller and Magaharan. Grimmer led until the final 300m when van der Ploeg created a gap from nothing and nosed in front, leading into the finish straight and just managing to hold out a fast finishing Grimmer. Spiller hung on for third with Magaharan skiing well and rounding out the final. BBD used all his cunning tactics against Flower to take out the B final (admittedly he was drafting and passed him about 1m from the line) with Dickinson and Malcom finishing 7th and 8th overall. It bodes well for the A final skiers and will give them great preparation for the big one this weekend.

The womenís field was well contested with some great performances from developing skiers. Mt Beauty local and 2006 Winter Olympian Esther Bottomly easily accounted for the other athletes in the time trial with Falls Creek local Belinda Phillips, Jaffa Withers, Lescinska Fackerall and Felice Beitzel all quite close and rounding out the top five. The final was an interesting race with Withers matching Bottomly for raw speed up the first hill but then the Olympic class of Bottomley came through and she was able to make a break on the gradual climb on High Plains Road. In the big surprise Beitzel passed both Withers and Phillips to take control of the chase pack. But Phillips held on and managed to sneak past coming into the finish straight for a close finish ahead of the tiring Withers. There was good depth in the event with Lescinska Fackerall unlucky to make the A final after falling on the last downhill and losing second place to Beitzel in the semi-final.

Thanks to Ben Derrick for details from the race. A further report on the race from Ronan Magaharan is on his Threshold Sports website.

Boonoona Open, August 5
NSW Race Week kicked off last Sunday August 5 with the City Tatts Nottage Boonoona 5km at Perisher Valley. As usual the top athletes were split between the different techniques. Ben Sim won the men's 5km classic ahead of his coach Nick Almoukov. Camille Melvey won the women's 5km classic comfortably ahead of NSW Junior Team member Siobhan Jones. In the women's 5km freestyle Aimee Watson nothced up yet another win this season. The men's 5km freestyle was the most hotly contested, with Alex Almoukov holding off Chris Darlington to win by just 3 seconds. Some race times and more details are available on the NSW Ski Association website thanks to Warren McCourt, who was third male in the 5km freestyle.

The biggest race of Race Week is on tomorrow - the KAC Classic from Perisher Valley to Charlotte's Pass. Ben Sim will go in as the odds-on favourite, but strange things have occurred in the KAC in the past and anything could happen.

August 6 - Two Laps Good, Four Laps Baaaad

Alright it was three laps for Paul Murray and two laps for KT Calder, and it wasn't really bad, but both skiers would have had a better result if there were less laps in the FIS Australia - New Zealand Cup at the Snow Farm in New Zealand yesterday. Calder made a good start in the women's 8km freestyle (nominally 5km, but organisers only had a 4km loop available and decided 4km was too short), and after the first lap was only 3 seconds down on Japan's Sumiko Yokoyama, who had started 30 seconds behind. Then the lack of training base over the last two months kicked in, and Yokoyama caught Calder with about 300 to go. Still, finishing 31 seconds behind a 4-time Japanese Winter Olympian with a 20th place to her name from the World Championships in Sapporo earlier this year. Third place went to Andrea Fancy of New Zealand, with Samantha Bondarenko in fourth.

Murray started well and was in second place after the first lap just up on Adam Swank from the USA and almost on the heels of Nat Anglem who had started 30 seconds in front. However the leader Tomio Kanamaru from Japan was on a mission and already 40 second up after only 4km. On the second lap some of the younger Japanese contenders started to show some.form while Murray started to feel the effects of five races in nine days plus travel and moved down through the field to 5th place. He was looking a tired man early on the third lap as Kanamaru came flying past from two minutes behind, but dug deep upon hearing that he was within 10 seconds of two other Japanese skiers. With a kilometre of climb to go he was in 7th place with a skier two seconds either side of him, and put everything in to claw up to 6th place by the skin of his teeth. Ok it was 3.5 seconds but you get the picture, he worked hard and it was close. Kanamaru won ahead of 16-year-old Japanese junior Hiroto Kondo (keep an eye for him in the future), with Swank taking third place.

Results will likely be up in a day or so, allowing for some travel time. No news yet from races at Falls Creek, Mt Hotham and Perisher Valley from the weekend - anyone got any reports? Next weekend the ANC continues with the Australian Sprint and 10/15km Freestyle Championships at Falls Creek.

August 4 - Time Trials to AUS, Finals to JPN

Paul Murray and KT Calder started well in the sprint events at the FIS Australia - New Zealand Cup at the Snow Farm today, but in the end the day belonged to Japan. Calder finished second in the final behind Sumiko Yokoyama, while Murray had to settle for winning the B-Final before Takashi Koyama won an all-Japan A-final.

Calder won the 1km freestyle time trial 2 seconds ahead of Yokoyama, and both skiers progressed easily from the semi-final to the final, along with New Zealand skiers Samantha Bondarenko and Andrea Fancy. In the final Yokoyama put the hammer down right from the start and Calder was unable to stay on her heels after the first 200m. The field was stretched out and it was up to Bondarenko and Fancy to provide some action with a sprint for third, which Bondarenko won.

Murray won the time trial by 3 seconds, and the men's quarter finals were already quite hotly contested. Murray won his quarter final but had to work harder than he had expected to hold off two lower ranked Japanese skiers. In the next quarter-final Ron Carmichael from Great Britain (and Canada) was neck and neck with Thursday's 15km winner Tomio Kanamaru for second place before they clashed skis and Carmichael fell. Kanamaru and quarter-final winner Adam Swank then came up against Murray in the semi-final, and all three skiers were side by side around a corner when Murray caught an edge and fell. Fourth ranked Swank was knocked out in a 3-way photo finish, leaving four Japanese skiers in the final. In the A-final Kanamaru almost fell in the start then sat in 4th place for most of the race. With 300m to go he sprinted past two skiers and onto the shoulder of Koyama who had lead pretty much the whole way. It looked as though Kanamaru would come through for the win but Koyama held on for first, all four skiers finishing within about a second. Murray sat on Swank during the B-final then overtook at the same point that Kanamaru made his move and sprinted clear to take 5th overall.

Individual freestyle races tomorrow, because of the lack of tracks open due to the amount of snow and tracks needing to be kept open for the public the races will be held on a 4 kilometre loop - 12km for men, 8km for women.

August 3 - Austalia - New Zealand Cup Opening

Australian World Cup Team members KT Calder and Paul Murray have made good starts in the first event of the 2007 FIS Australia - New Zealand Cup (ANC) at the Snow Farm in New Zealand on August 2. Calder won the women's 10km classic convincingly, while Murray skied one of his best distance races in several years to take second place in the men's 15km classic behind Tomio Kanamaru of Japan. A last minute fall of snow at the start of this week saved the Snow Farm events from cancellation, and organisers did a great job to put a good course together in the limited snow conditions.

Calder took the lead right from the start in the mass start event and never looked back. Okay, she might have looked back, but she didn't slow down. Despite a month of illness in the last two months Calder looked relaxed and skied stongly with good technique, and won by over 3 minutes. Second place went to 2006 ANC winner Samantha Bondarenko from New Zealand, with Andrea Fancy from New Zealand (Australian junior team members will remember meeting "Andy" in Silver Star last summer) taking third. The next two places went to New Zealand junior skiers Natalie Cobby and Samantha Williamson.

The men's 15km was a riveting event, with Kanamaru, Murray, and Takashi Koyama of Japan all leading at various stages of the race. Murray lead the first lap of four at a comfortable pace. Climbing up the stadium on the second lap Murray felt like he was Cadel Evans in the Tour de France. First Koyama attacked, then as Murray chased down the break and drew level Kanamaru sprinted off. Murray bridged the gap again with strong double poling, and after recovering on the downhill made a small break of his own. Kanamaru made another big effort at the end of the second lap, stringing out Murray and Koyama behind, but again Murray closed the gap after a kilometre of flat and downhill. Catching Kanamaru with a bit of momentum Murray went straight past, but the two were together again when they came into sight at the bottom of the course with 1km of climb to go. With the finish of the course at the highest point of the race, when Kanamaru went again on the second last pinch it was the decisive move. The Japanese skier won by six seconds ahead of Murray, with Koyama only 22 seconds back in third place. It was still a great result for Murray, and though his FIS points of 101 were his best in two seasons it could have been even better with a couple more skiers with half decent points in the race - Kanamaru's FIS point average is 57. Another Japanese skier Wataru Omori took fourth place, with Nat Anglem from New Zealand taking fifth.

With sprint and individual start 5/10km freestyle events coming up on the weekend it is hoped that several skiers from the USA will also compete. Four of the best US sprinters (including World Cup medalists Newell and Koos) flew into New Zealand on Wednesday night, but is unsure if they will compete so soon after arriving. New snow has fallen overnight so conditions should be good for the weekend.

July 30 - Surprises at Perisher + More

ACT Sprint Championship, July 28
As a national selection race the 2007 ACT Sprint Championship was at the same level as an Australian Championship. In upset results Chris Darlington from Jindabyne in NSW won the men's A-final and Chloe McConville from Myrtleford in Victoria won the women's B-final. For both athletes it was their first win in a national selection event. All races were held in classic technique on a 1km loop outside the Sverre Kaaten Nordic Shelter at Perisher Valley. The event was organised by the ACT Ski Association.

Paul Murray won the men's 1km qualifying time trial by 6 seconds ahead of Darlington, though Darlington stumbled early on and fell. Ben Sim's skis balled up badly on the second hill and after being forced to stop and scrape off snow he managed only 7th place. Murray and 4th ranked Leon Spiller qualified comfortably from the first semi-final, while 3rd ranked Mark van der Ploeg was knocked out of the second semi-final by Darlington and Sim. Murray lead the A-final over the first hill, but Darlington put in a strong double burst to overtake and create a small gap that extended on the downhill. By the time they reached the second uphill Darlington hada decisive lead. Murray and Sim started to pull back a little time, but when Darlington went into the second downhill still with a small lead his victory was sealed. Murray held off Sim in the finish straight for second.

McConville won the women's time-trial comfortably by 5 seconds, skiing on a pair of Peltonen Zeta-base skis (which have a roughened section of the base instead of wax). By the time of the finals, with the snow warming up and transforming further, all female A-finalists had switched to similar skis. Esther Bottomley was on Atomic Multi skis, Aimee Watson on Fischer Zero skis, and Belinda Phillips had the old fashioned (but equally effective) "hairies", made from sand-paper. Bottomley set the pace in the final, holding a small gap over McConville through to the second hill, with Watson further back in third place. McConville drew level with Bottomley and edged slightly in front as they approached the top of the hill, while Watson was closing on them both. Unfortunately McConville's pole caught on Bottomley's ski causing Bottomley to fall, and by the time she was up again Watson was past. Over the top of the hill into the downhill there was a 10m gap from McConville back to Watson and another 10m back to Bottomley. McConville pulled away in the straight to take the win, with Bottomley initially closing on Watson but Watson holding on for 2nd place.

Full results will be available soon.

Australian 15/30km Championship, July 29
The first national titles up for grabs this season, 15km classic for women and 30km classic for men. Both events were held on the standard 7.5km loop at Perisher Valley. NSW Insitute of Sport athletes took home the double, with Aimee Watson winning the 15km and and Ben Sim winning the 30km. Conditions for the race were excellent, with great tracks groomed thanks to Kosciusko National Parks and Ken Baxter on the snowmobile. The races were organised by the NSW Ski Association.

Aimee Watson kept her unbeaten run in distance events this season, winning her first Australian title by 2:30 ahead of Chloe McConville. Watson lead right from the start, pulling away from McConville, Camille Melvey, and Esther Bottomley in the first couple of kilometres. McConville went clear in second after first Melvey then Bottomley dropped back, the latter experiencing breathing problems that she has before in distance events and almost walking. After skiing easy for a while with Belinda Phillips and bit of a pep-talk Bottomley skied back up to third place where she remained for the rest of the race. Sally Cunningham moved up past Phillips with fast skis on the downhill, but Phillips came back on the second lap to take 5th place, with Melvey 4th.

In the 30km Ben Sim set the early pace and together with Paul Murray dropped Chris Darlington already after 2km. Sim went clear on his own when Murray took a drink, and after the first 7.5km the time gap back to Murray was about 6 seconds and 26 seconds back to Darlington. Darlo worked steadily on the next lap and caught Murray at about the 13km mark before the long downhill. According to Darlo: "I said to Paul, let's work together to catch up. Then I dropped him straight away on the downhill and so I decided to keep dropping him." Sim went on to win by 3:20 ahead of Darlington, with Murray 44 seconds further back in 3rd. 4th place went to Alex Almoukov after he managed to drop Mark van der Ploeg on the last lap.

Full Results

Charles Derrick Memorial, July 28
The 2007 Charles Derrick Memorial race was held last Saturday at Mt Hotham. The following report was provided by Ben Derrick:

The Charlie race for 2007 was shifted to July to try to counteract the lack of racer enthusiasm for doing anything remotely physical after the Hoppet. For something different the race course was one big 12km loop of the Wire Plain trail system, with the long course going under the road and accessing all the trails on the other side of the road. A 12 o'clock start meant that the snow had transformed from fast and hard packed into "Wire 'Pain' Special" sucky glue. But most people found a wax to get them around and enjoy the rolling terrain of the course. With a Biathlon race also in progress at the time all skiers were told to obey the number one rule of skiing at Hotham - that is to give way to anybody carrying a gun. Although I suspect that a direct hit would not have slowed down either of the first two athletes.

At the start Nick Grimmer powered up the first hill with Andrew Mock the only skier able to go with him, albeit just (Note - I was seriously in more pain after the first 1km of this race than I have been in for many years and it showed that Nick and Mocky were there to race and in good form). That was the last time that any of the other competitors saw the two leaders and we were left with the slim hope that they had taken a wrong turn somewhere on the course and glory was ours. However that was not the case as the two guns up front attacked each other looking for the decisive break. Coming into the last downhill they were still locked together and it could be said that they were both worthy winners for the day. However in a more accurate sense Mocky was the winner after finally kicking away from Nick as they went for the line, to add his name for to the winner's trophy that includes most of the top skiers in Australia for the last 40 years. I demonstrated that being the sentimental favorite has no meaning when the gun goes, struggled in to third, way, way, way behind. Whilst there were rumours to give Nick and Mocky a 1 hour time penalty for being in such good form when there was a Nationals race on, the magnanimous crew from Wangaratta Ski Club decided to let the results stand after we had downed a few beers that night and started realising that the reason for being totally outclassed may have had something to do with our own ability.

The women's event was also a hotly contested race with Lescinska Fackerell leading early on before fading at the end for Penelope Grose ahead of Brenda Pollock to come through to claim the women's trophy for the first time. Not too sure of race tactics for this one but Iím sure it involved a considerable amount of pain somewhere. Jaffa Withers, fresh from racing Biathlon just before, proved too strong in her own backyard easily taking out the short course event ahead of Claire and Megan Pollock

Special thanks to Greg O'Donahue from Mt Hotham Resort Management for setting up a great course for us and working with WSC the day before to help with the event.

Full Results

July 24 - Upcoming Hotham Races

Charles Derrick Memorial Langlauf
This coming weekend the Charles Derrick Memorial Langlauf race is on at Mt Hotham. If you haven't heard of the background to the event before or just need your memory refreshed, the following history of the race is taken from the race entry form:

The Charles Derrick Memorial Langlauf Race commemorates the attempt made by Charlie Derrick, a member of Wangaratta Ski Club, to ski from Mountain Creek at the foot of Mt Bogong to Mt Hotham non-stop, a journey of approximately 37 miles (62 km) and involving a climb of eight to nine thousand feet (2,500 m to 2,750 m).

He began his attempt on the morning of Friday 2nd September, 1965, and progressed well until midday when rain began to fall over the High Plains. It was thought that Charlie might seek shelter in Dibbins Hut before the climb up Swindler's Spur but, determined to complete his journey, he continued on.

When almost at the top of Mary's Slide and only ten minutes from the inhabited Rolba Hut on Mt Hotham, he collapsed. He had abandoned his skis four hundred yards from where his body was found the following morning.

Wangaratta Ski Club organised the first Charles Derrick Memorial Langlauf in 1966.

Since Charlie's attempt in 1965, to the Club's knowledge, only a handful of skiers have completed the trek across the High Plains on skis in one day. The first was Wangaratta Ski Club member, Danny Flynn, in 1975 in a time of 10 hrs and 15 mins. Fellow Club members Robin Gibb, John Kerby and Bill Woods completed the crossing some years later. In 1985 Audun Endestad (Norway and USA), Phil Rumpff, Andrew Walker and Christine Brugger (1988 Swiss Olympian) also completed the journey. Endestad's time was just under six hours. The next day he won his fourth Charles Derrick Memorial Langlauf, Christine Brugger won the woman's event.

The 2007 Charlie Derrick starts at Whisky Flat at Mt Hotham at 11:30am this Saturday. An entry form is available on-line, and entries are taken on the day after 9:30am at Whisky Flat.

Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub To Pub
This update from Mick Sinclair is a couple of weeks old, look to the Hotham to Dinner Plain website for more recent news.

With a bit over 3 weeks to go to raceday I'm dusting off the email lists and slowly cranking things up to get ready for this years event. Hope you've been out enjoying this great early snow - with 7 days up so far I'm already catching up to last seasons total and in terms of quality it's probably already exceeded it!

After 2 years of very marginal conditions and great ingenuity by participants on how to minimise ski removal and boot unclogging, we may actually get a proper ski trail for a race this year. I've spoken to Robbie at Ajays, and although we contemplated calling off the events due to lack of challenges, we figure we might as well go ahead with it. It's great to see Ajays are continuing their long association with, and support for the event.

On line entry is open and as always we encourage you to pre-register for the event to make it possible to at least come close to running on time on the day. We've already had 3 early birds - the earliest in the first week of June!

If you haven't seen the race calendar, we're on Saturday August 4th at 11am. Full details, including on line entry are available of the race website at http://www.dbstrategies.com.au/pubtopub The website will now be updated reasonably regularly up until race day. I hope to redo the on line entry screens sometime next week - if you have any problems with registering, let me know.

That date again - Saturday August 4th at Mt Hotham for the biggest tour race in Victoria besides the Kangaroo Hoppet.

July 23 - Victorian Junior Championships

Victorian Junior Championships, Falls Creek, July 21-22
It was a good weekend of racing at Falls Creek with the Victorian Junior Championships and first junior selection races of the season. Chief of Race Ben Derrick from the Wangaratta Ski Club used some new tracks to create some different and challenging courses, and racing conditions were near perfect. Classic races were on Saturday and freestyle on Sunday, all in mass start format.

Aimee Watson from NSW and Chloe McConville from Victoria had a good tussle on both days in the open junior 5km events. Watson broke away up the McKay Rd to win by 25 seconds in the classic, but had to work harder for the win in the freestyle. McConville was down by just 10 seconds and closing on Watson with 1km to go, and the finish line came just in time for Watson to hold onto a 2 second victory. It was very close for 3rd to 6th place particularly in the skate race, with d'Arcy Baxter, Juliette Booth, and Jaffa Withers each holding third place at different stages. Booth fell at crucial points on both days, leaving Withers to take third place without a sprint. In the skate race there was just 24 seconds from Withers back to Georgia Merritt in 6th place.

Neil van der Ploeg won comfortably in the 10km classic ahead of Alex Almoukov , but Almoukov and Simon Flower were not going to be dropped easily in the freestyle. Van der Ploeg tried to make a break after 3km, but with no success the pace dropped off a bit. At times it looked like Almoukov and Flower were just cruising behind. Almoukov put the hammer down and managed a short 20m break over the top of the course onto Aitkens, but the gap closed up again and all three came flying together down Pete's Panic with 500m to go. Van der Ploeg led on the aqueduct and Flower looked good on his shoulder until he tripped over van der Ploeg's pole and fell. Van der Ploeg won by 2 seconds ahead of Almoukov, and Flower was up again just in time to take third place ahead of Ewan Watson.

Aislinn Kildea from Wangaratta won the U16 women's 5km on both days but had a closer race in the freestyle with three skiers hot on her tail. Siobhan Jones was sprinting with Imogen Blanche for the line for second place until Blanche fell, and Jones' NSW team-mate Lucy Glanville nipped through to take third place. [Note, July 24 - It came to race organisers attention after the race that Jones and Glanville were U14 skiers skiing out of their age class in the 5km event. According to Skiing Australia Cross Country rules the two skiers are not eligible to place in the class results in these circumstances. Blanche is hence moved up to second place in the U16 class and Maddie Hoare from MLC then takes third place.] The U16 men's 5km events were split between Victorian Robert Jones in the classic and Phillip Bellingam m the freestyle. In the younger classes the same skiers won with a good margin on each day, with Anna Trnka winning the U14 girls, Alasdair Tutt the U14 boys, Tilly Pascoe the U12 girls, and Lachlan Porter the U12 boys.

Full results will be up later today.

Cooma Open, Perisher Valley, July 22

Another report from Chris Darlington, this time from Cooma Open at Perisher Valley last Sunday.

It was a fast start up the hill in the 10km, I was setting the pace with Ben Sim and Mark van der Ploeg on my tail. Simbo & I had sore legs from dancing at the DJ rave. I had jack of breaking wind on the first flat so I moved to the side and got the sit as Simbo took the lead. Mark vandy lost contact on the climb up to the 10km turn off, then I dropped off on the downhill at back of 10km. Simbo won in about 25:05 and my time was 25:52. Mark vandy was about 2:30 back I think. Colby Rook skied a good race for fourth, I think about another minute back. I'm not 100% sure about the women's results as I was eating a hot dog at the presentations, but it could have been Amelia Souter first, Camille Melvey second, and Sally Cunningham third.

Simbo said he's in heaps better form than last week and I reckon I am too. We are ready to punish anyone that wants to take us on (in a ski race). Any takers?

Cross country racing action continues at Perisher Valley next weekend with the ACT Sprint Championships and theAustralian 15/30km Championships. The Charlie Derrick Memorial is on at Mt Hotham on Saturday July 27, and the Lake Mountain Mini-Series #2 is on Sunday July 28. Mini-Series #2? That means that #1 was on last weekend. Any reports?

July 20 - Darlo 's Trash Talk Begins

Chris Darlington responds to Ben Sim's report from the NSW Championships.

OK. Firstly what I want to say is that my face didn't look horrible - and Simbo didn't see my face all race! Any spectators would have been so attracted to my strapping good looks that ..... well, need I say more? Also, regarding Alex, I administered justice on that young punk by 30 seconds, a lot more than he lost by missing the finish line due to his lack of experience and focus, all of which is a vital part of peak performance. Once I freshen up and decide to raise my heart rate above 132 during the race, I'll be an untouchable adonis on the tracks.

For anyone interested in reading results for next weekend's 30k in advance, here they are:
1 - Chris Darlington
2 - who cares?
3 - who cares?
14th - Ben Sim

July 17 - Old Dogs, Old Tricks

Snowgum Wodonga High Plains Tour, July 14
Who said that old dogs need to learn new tricks? Last Saturday in the Snowgum Wodonga High Plains Tour at Falls Creek, it was the experienced campaigners Ben Derrick and Belinda Phillips who claimed the top honours. Ben Derrick started out steady in the 10km freestyle event at the back of a train of Birkebeiner skiers driven by biathlete Mark Raymond. Out in Sun Valley BD moved up past Mark van der Ploeg, then Paul Murray, then Neil van der Ploeg, and finally overhauled Raymond on the climb up the McKay Road. At the end there was only about 30 seconds separating the top four, but BD was the winner. Raymond was on the heels of second placed Neil VDP with 500m to go but took a superman slide on a fast corner and was overtaken by Murray before he could get back up to speed again. In the women's 10km Felice Beitzel lead Belinda Phillips around to Panorama corner on the way out to Sun Valley, but then Phillips took over and pulled steadily away to win by over two minutes. Bietzel hung on for second just 30 seconds ahead of Lescinska Fackerell.

In the 5km events the top three place getters were all juniors. James Butler and Alasdair Tutt had a close battle for the first male, with Butler coming out on top by 13 seconds. The first female Aisleen Kildea had to work hard to shake Anna Trnka before winning in the end by 30 seconds. Full results available soon.

ACT/NSW Championships, July 14-15
A report from Ben Sim at the ACT and NSW Championship races at Perisher Valley:

It was good cold conditions for the classic races at Perisher Valley on Saturday. Most athletes went with a multigrade stick, while Nick (Almoukov) and I choose a blue rex wax. In first 2km I think all the boys were even, Darlo (Chris Darlinton) was 10 seconds up on me. I went the same pace pretty much the whole race and managed to get the lead at the 5km mark. From there the finish results were me 1st, Darlo 2nd, Ewan Watson 3rd by 0.2 of a second, Nick 4th, CallumWatson 5th.

In girls Juliette (Booth) took a wrong turn at the 2.5km and never caught the time back on Sally (Cunningham). According to Sally, Aimee "steam trained" on the flats and was just too fast. The results Aimee 1st, d'Arcy Baxter 2nd, Sally 3rd, Juliette 4th.

On Sunday was the skate race, again in the cold dry white stuff. The boys hit 1 lap of the 10km track. Again I maintained my pace throughout the race. I passed Alex at the 4.5km mark (he was 30sec in front), he held on for another km but then his legs "blew apart in pieces", another quote. Darlo definitely was in a tired body today, not only his technique was falling apart but his face was horrible. Ewan finished really strongly with me, I caught him with 3.5km to go and didn't pass at all. Actually he dropped me going up the last hill. I was 1st, Darlo 2nd but may have been 3rd if Alex didn't miss the finish and have to go back to cross the line. Alex 3rd, Ewan 4th, Nick or maybe Callum 5th.

No comment from the girls today. Amiee was 1st, d'Arcy 2nd but 0.6 of a second ahead of Juliette in 3rd, Sally 4th. In the younger juniors I noticed that Siobhan Jones had a good time for 2.5km.

Full results should be up soon. NSW Classic Results - ACT Freestyle Results

YMCA Howmans Gap Victorian Interclub Relays, July 15
A new sponsor for the race but the same annual battle between Birkebeiner and Wangaratta ski clubs. The BNSC men's team was missing a couple of its guns but pulled a couple of handy skiers off the bench in Tim Retchford and Ronan Magaharan to accompany Neil van der Ploeg against the Wangaratta team of Leon Spiller, Cameron Dickinson, and anchor man Ben Derrick. Neil VDP let loose an unrelenting pace to drop Spiller on the first leg, and delivered a 43 second lead for BNSC. Retchford extended the lead to 1:18 on the second leg, but was this going to be enough to Magaharan to hold of Big Benny Derrick, renowned for demolishing gaps on the last legs of relays? The gap came quickly down to 1:00 but Magaharan didn't panic, and though BBD skied the fastest time of the day on the 5km course it wasn't enough and BNSC won by 28 seconds ahead of WSC, with BNSC #2 comfortably in third place.

The BNSC women's team with Esther Bottomley on the first leg got off to a good lead ahead of the unofficial Team Buffalicious with Felice Beitzel and Wangaratta Ski Club with junior Aislinn Kildea. Lescinska Fackerell from Buffalicious clawed back some time on BNSC's Jenny Kromar on the second leg, however Jaffa Withers anchored it home for BNSC with the fastest women's time of the day. Wangaratta were only just in third place ahead of Melbourne Nordic after the second leg, but former national team skier Kate Spiller secured their place on the last leg.

The U16 Sacred Heart College team of Elly Richardson, Sally Packham, and Lucy Packham was the first women's team home in the 2.5km relay event, while the 55+ Howmans Gap Allstars team of Lauri Jortikka, Doug Wilson, and Len Budge was the first men's team. Other class results will be included in the results coming soon. There will also be results and pictures on the Database Strategies Website.

July 12 - Links for Coming Races

This weekend there are NSW and ACT Championships at Perisher Valley, and the Snowgum Wodonga High Plains Tour and YMCA Howmans Gap Interclub Relays at Falls Creek. An Entry Form for the NSW Championship is availble to download from this site, while information and entry forms for the Falls Creek events are available on the Database Strategies Website.

Dave Hunt testing out Ginzu groomer with quad bike at Falls Creek

July 10 - More Racing News

Paul Murray and Juliette Booth came out on top in the Birkebeiner Classic at Falls Creek on Saturday July 7, winning the men's 10km classic and women's 5km classic respectively. In the men's event the lead changed around in a small pack consisting of Murray, Neil and Mark van der Ploeg, and Mark Raymond, with Ben Derrick just off the back. Raymond lost contact on the downhills with assistance from some plastic stuck in his wax. When Murray made a decisive move after 6km the others had no chance, and he won comfortably ahead of Mark VDP and Neil VDP. Juliette Booth made a break away from Belinda Phillips in the first 1.5km loop, and hung on to win by 14 seconds with Phillips second and Georgia Merritt third. Also the junior winner, Booth was only 33 seconds behind the first junior male Robert Jones. In the 2.5km event the first male was Alasdair Tutt and first female Anna Trnka. Katerina Paul won the 1km event and then turned around and completed the 2.5km event straight afterwards.

The next day in the Ski De Femme at Falls Creek Belinda Phillips won the 5km freestyle comfortably ahead of Jenny Kromar, with Lescinska Fackerell taking third place. Penny Pascoe was first in the 2.5km event, and Katerina Paul won the 1km event (again).

In the 5km classic Cooma Clean Out The Waxbox at Perisher Valley on Sunday July 8 Chris Darlington won his second race of the season after an up and down battle with Alex Almoukov. Up and down as Darlo was pulling away on the downs and Alex was reeling him back in on the ups. With the typical downhill finish at Perisher Darlo won by 6 seconds, with Callum Watson taking third. Aimee Watson was the first woman in 5th overall and not too far behind her brothers. d'Arcy Baxter was second just one second ahead of Sally Cunningham. In the 2.5km event the first male was Damon Morton and first female Alice Donaldson.

July 7 - Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs

The first races of the season took place last weekend at Perisher Valley. The Clean Out The Cobwebs freestyle race on July 1 organised by Cooma Ski Club. The first man in the 5km event was Chris Darlington, just ahead of a sprint finish between Alex Almoukov and Ben Sim. The first woman was Siobhan Jones. Full results are now posted. No results have been received yet from the Paddy Pallin Junior race on June 30.

More races are taking place this weekend, including the Cooma Clean Out the Waxbox at Perisher Valley, and the Birkebeiner Classic and Ski De Femme at Falls Creek.

National Team Training Camp
The Australian Cross Country Ski Team had their first on-snow training camp of the winter this week at Falls Creek. Sixteen members of the team took part in the 5-day camp, which included mostly distance and technique training sessions mixed in with some intervals and time trials. Despite regular heavy snowfalls training conditions were very good.

National Junior Team members Juliette Booth, d'Arcy Baxter, and Georgia Merritt
Falls Creek Training Camp

June 27 - Hoppet Earlybird Entries Close

A message from the Kangaroo Hoppet race office:

Dear Skiers, I hope you have had the opportunity to enjoy the great skiing on offer in late May and June. It was great to see so many people out on the beautifully groomed trails at Falls Creek last weekend.

Just a quick prompt to get your entry in this week if you want to take advantage of the earlybird discount for the long and middle distance events. Joey entry fees remain cheaper till Aug 10.

Best wishes

Helen L'Huillier,
Kangaroo Hoppet Race Secretary

Earlybird entries close on June 30. The entry form is available on-line on the Kangaroo Hoppet website.

June 25 - Lake Mountain + Perisher Pics

After a good dump of snow last week Lake Mountain is now experiencing it's best early season snow conditions in a number of years. Most of the trails are in very good condition. Here are some pics from the roving Lake Mountain snow cam:


More images are available on the Lake Mountain website.

Grooming also commenced at Perisher Valley last week. The beginner area, 2.5 km, 5 km and 7 km tracks are groomed for skating, with National Park waiting for a bit more depth before they start grooming classic tracks. Here are some pictures taken by National Team member Chris Darlington last weekend:

June 19 - Falls Pics + National Testing Camp

Some pictures from the Falls Creek cross country ski trails last weekend. Thanks (and apologies for the nagging) to Ben Derrick for the pictures. Click on the images for a larger version.

National Testing Camp at AIS
At the end of last week the National Team went through their paces at the physiology testing camp at the AIS in Canberra. Of the 15 athletes tested eight of them improved their personal best on the VO2 max protocol, with another two equalling their PB. Paul Murray and Aimee Watson lasted the longest on the treadmill, reaching 34.00 and 29.30 minutes respectively on the protocol. There was also a very good first time result from 16-year-old Phillip Bellingham from Mt Beauty, whose raw VO2 capacity was 5.1 L/min. In the 2-minutes double pole test Esther Bottomley broke the women's record scoring an average of 143 W, with Paul Murray just short of the men's record on 291 W. Neil van der Ploeg was the biggest improver on the DP test, jumping from an average of 200 W up to 245 W and disproving the myth about van der Ploeg family upper body strength.

Unfortunately Anthony Evans picked up a bug and wasn't able to test. The physiologists are still keen to get him back on the treadmill, but it might have to wait now until after the winter.

Phillip Bellingham on the treadmill at the AIS

June 13 - Wilderness Sports Snow Reports

Wilderness Sports in Jindabyne have resumed their daily snow reports for Perisher Valley and the Snowy Mountains. There's not enough snow yet to start grooming the Perisher trails, however scattered snow showers are forecast later this week. Full details of the report are available on the Wilderness Sports website.

The upper Falls Creek trails including the McKay and Stockyard Loops were groomed again yesterday and are in good condition. Big Benny Derrick from Falls Creek has promised to supply a pic as soon as someone buys him a camera.

National Testing Camp at AIS
Most of the National XC Team will be in Canberra this weekend for the annual physiological testing camp at the Australian Institute of Sport. Many of the athletes are in good shape are are looking to improve their personal best results particularly on the VO2 max test. The word on the grapevine is that former National Team member and triple Winter Olympian Anthony Evans has been invited in by the AIS physiologists to test and compare to his best results from back in 1997. Evans held the record on the VO2 protocol until it was broken by Ben Sim in 2003. Sim will test as well, though he had some time off this autumn and it will remain to be seen whether he will come close to his current record of 35 minutes.

June 7 - Grooming Started At Falls Creek

Yes folks, the snow came last week and today the groomer went out on some sections of the trails. Though the High Plains Road down to Windy Corner was cleared for maintenance vehicles, there are over 10km of tracks groomed including the road out to Langfords Gap, the McKay Rd, and the McKay loop which was the saviour of the 2006 season. While Falls Creek has a new snowmobile driven grooming machine this year for marginal snow conditions, there was enough snow for the big Kassbohrer to go out. More details of the grooming can be found on the Falls Creek site.

With the recent freezes there have also been reports of good backcountry skiing and off track skating both on the Bogong High Plains and on the main range out from Charlotte's Pass. All in all things are looking pretty good for the coming season with a good frozen base on the ground. A dump of rain would change the story, but conditions are forecast to be stable through past the Queen's Birthday opening weekend and in general there's a lot of optimism about the coming winter. Stay tuned for more regular reports coming on this site from now on.

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