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Winter News 2008
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Spring News 2008

September 4 - Sundeck Fundraisers
August 30 - 2008 Kangaroo Hoppet (Link)
August 24 - AUS Open / Junior Champs
August 18 - Snow Farm Finale
August 16 -Snow Farm Update #2
August 14 - Snow Farm Racing Update #1
August 12 - Racing Action From Perisher
August 6 - Bullfight Charge Moves to Aug 16
August 5 - Lots More Racing
August 1 - Hotham To Dinner Plain
July 30 - Late ACT Sprint Report
July 27 - Vic Sprints + Aus 15/30km
July 21 - Cooma Open
July 20 - Victorian Junior Championship
July 17 - Rocky Valley Tipping Competition
July 14 - Racing Wrap-Ups
July 7 - Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs
July 5 - Early Season Form
July 2 - Not The Birkie Classic
June 29 - Falls Creek Training Camp
June 28 - AIS Testing Camp - a Mock Report
 (Hit "Refresh" for Latest Update) 

Athlete Reports - Wombat on the Welfare
Installment #5 - Wombat on the Wane

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Winter 2008 Updates

September 4 - Sundeck Fundraisers

Back in the middle of August there were a stack of races at Perisher Valley during the NSW Race Week. Results for some of these races have just come to hand, including the following three events:

KAC - August 13
Sundeck Cup - August 14
Snowy Mountains Classic - August 16

The Sundeck Cup is a handicap event, with all proceeds being donated to the Towards 2010 National Team fundraising project. The handicap race was won by Helen Brady, with NSW junior Colby Rook posting the fastest time. Combined with the James Squire Dinner (see details below), the Sundeck Hotel is the single largest financial supporter of the National Team, outside of Ski Australia and main sponsor Falls Creek.

James Squire Dinner
The Sundeck Hotel invites you to the James Squire Dinner at Perisher Valley on Saturday September 20. The special guest for the night is master brewer Chuck Hahn, who will talk about matching beer with food. The evening includes a three course meal with accompanying beers. All proceeds will go to the Towards 2010 Cross Country Development Fund. Numbers are strictly limited so please confirm your attendance by Saturday September 13.

Where: Sundeck Hotel, Perisher Valley
When: Saturday September 20 - 7:00pm
Cost: $50 per person
Phone: (02) 64575222
Email: sundeck @ acr.net.au

August 24 - AUS Open /Junior Championship, Falls Creek, August 23-24

The weekend was full of racing action at Falls Creek with the Australian Open 5/10km Junior Championship events. There was a small but strong international field in attendance, with skiers from Czech, Slovenia, France and the USA competing. Racing conditions at Falls Creek were just about perfect, with freshly packed dry snow and sunny weather all weekend.

Freestyle Races, August 23
USA skiers Evelyn Dong and Zach Violett won the open individual freestyle races, in close racing against the best Australians and skiers from Czech and France. Dong posted the fastest time splits all the way through the women's 5km Freestyle, though won by just 13 seconds ahead of Aimee Watson. Esther Bottomley took third place 8 seconds further back with Chloe McConville third Australian and fourth overall, 5 seconds ahead of Belinda Phillips.

Ben Sim skied a fast first 5km to lead the men's field ahead of Violett and Viktor Novotny from the Czech Republic. Unfortunately Sim couldn't hold the pace and dropped back to third at the finish, 26 seconds behind Violett and 5 seconds behind Novotny. French skier Geoffroy Pais took fourth place 19 seconds ahead of Andrew Mock, with Paul Murray the third Australian only another 2 seconds behind.

Dong and Violett are both from Bend Oregon and ski for the XC Oregon Ski Team. The two skiers are in Australia for the Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek next weekend, and in the longer term are aiming for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

In the Australian Junior Championship events Georgia Merritt from Ivanhoe won the open junior 5km, 29 seconds ahead of Lucy Glanville from Sydney. D'Arcy Baxter from Berridale was third. Callum Watson from Cooma was first in the open junior men's 10km, well clear from the minor placegetters Colby Rook from Jindabyne and Paul Kovacs from Bright.

In the younger classes Imogen Blanch won the women's U16 5km ahead of a one-armed Aislinn Kildea and Ashleigh Spittle. Mark Pollock won the men's U16 from James Butler and Dyllan Harmer. Siobhan Jones was first in the U14 women's 2.5km ahead of Anna Trnka, with Gabriella Cigana taking third. Lachlan Porter was the clear winner in the U14 boys, Damon Morton won the U12 boys and Sarah Hodge the U12 girls.

Full Results

Classic Races, August 24
Evelyn Dong from the USA made a clean sweep for the weekend, winning the women's 5km Classic by 6.4 seconds ahead of Aimee Watson. The men's 10km Classic went right down to the wire, with only 2.0 seconds separating Viktor Novotny of the Czech Republic from Ben Sim from Cooma. Saturday's 10km Freestyle winner Zach Violett from the USA was third.

In the interval start format Dong started 30 seconds behind Watson and had the Australian in her sight throughout the race. The 23-year-old American closed to 20 seconds behind mid-race before Watson rallied and took back a few seconds in the closing kilometre. There was a very tight race for third place, with Chloe McConville holding on just 4 seconds ahead of fourth placed Clare-Louise Brumley and fifth place Esther Bottomley, the latter two separated by 0.3 of a second.

For the second day in a row Ben Sim lead the field after 5km, only to have the victory taken from him by the narrowest of margins. Novotny skied strongly through the middle of the race and was 5 seconds ahead with a kilometre to go, and though Sim fought hard in the dying stages of the race he couldn't quite close the gap. Violett was 44 seconds off the pace in third place, with French skier Geoffroy Pais another 14 seconds back in fourth. Paul Murray took fifth place overall ahead of Andrew Mock.

In the Australian Junior Championship events Lucy Glanville turned the tables on Saturday's winner Georgia Merritt, winning the open junior 5km Classic by 6.5 seconds. D'Arcy Baxter was 39 seconds back in third. Callum Watson made it back to back victories in the open junior men's 10km, ahead of the fastest U18 skier Phillip Bellingham and Andrew Kovacs. In the U16 classes Imogen Blanch and Mark Pollock won again, with Ashleigh Spittle taking second in the girls' 5km this time ahead of Aislinn Kildea, and Alasdair Tutt taking second behind Pollock in a depleted junior men's field. Where are all our U16 men? They were outnumbered 9 to 2 by the U16 women. Lachlan Porter and Damon Morton won the U14 and U12 boys 2.5km once again, while Hannah Watson was the first U12 girl.

Full Results

August 18 - Snow Farm Finale

Australian - New Zealand Cup 5-10km Freestyle, Snow Farm NZ, August 17
Another day of close racing at the Snow Farm saw Canadian athletes win both individual freestyle events yesterday. Robin McKeever (CAN) won the 10km Freestyle by 0.07 of a second ahead of the fast finishing Masaaki Kozu (JPN), and Milaine Theriault won the women's 5km Freestyle by 20 seconds [corrected] from Sumiko Ishigaki (JPN). Ben Sim took third place in the 10km just 8 seconds behind McKeever to lower his best ever FIS points for the second time in four days. Four other Australian men - Andrew Mock, Mark Raymond, Andrew Wynd, and Chris Darlington - went under 120 FIS points, three of them for the first time. Esther Bottomley also skied a good race to take 6th place [corrected] in the 5km Freestyle, just over a minute behind Theriault and 20 seconds behind third placed ex-Australian KT Calder (NZE).

Sim took up the early lead in the 10km, posting the fastest split to the 4km mark 4 seconds ahead of Tomio Kanamaru (JPN). Mock also started well to be in 6th place, 18 seconds behind Sim and within 4 seconds of McKeever. The Canadian ramped up the pace in the next 5km, turning his deficit into a 9 second lead over Sim, with Kozu jumping up to second place and looking fresh. McKeever started to tire in the closing kilometre while Kozu flew home, missing out on gold by the narrowest of margins. Mock faded to 8th place, 1:28 behind. Wynd finished well, gaining 5 seconds on Mock in the second half of the race but falling 1 second short of Raymond who was 11th. Nat Anglem (NZE) had another good race, finishing 10th, 8 seconds ahead of Raymond. Leon Spiller was 16th and Paul Murray 17th, suffering the most of the Australians from illness during the week.

After one kilometre there was nothing between the first three women in the 5km Freestyle, Theriault, Bettina Gruber (SUI) and Calder all within 2 seconds. Theriault secured victory in the next four kilometres, though lost time in the final kilometre to Ishigaki, who skied up to second. Gruber dropped to 4th, just 1 second ahead of Andi Fancy (NZE), who was in turn 7 seconds ahead of Esther Bottomley.

The ANC moves back to Australia next weekend with the Australian Championship at Falls Creek on August 23-24.

The Australian Team at the Snow Farm in New Zealand

August 16 - Snow Farm Update #2

Australian - New Zealand Cup Sprint Freestyle, Snow Farm NZ, August 16
Top spots in the ANC Sprint today went to Japan and Switzerland, with only one antipodean skier making it past the semi-finals. The highest ranked male sprinter Shohei Honda (JPN) won a very tight A-final ahead of Geoffroy Pais (FRA) and Masaaki Kozu (JPN), while Bettina Gruber (SUI) the top ranked female won clearly ahead of Esther Bottomley and Sandra Gredig (SUI).

Pais won the qualifying time trial by 1.4 seconds ahead of Kozu, with the best Australian Ben Sim in 6th place 8 seconds off the pace. Chris Darlington qualified 8th and Andrew Wynd 11th, with all other Australian men (four of them) absent from the starting line today due to illness. Darlington and Wynd were knocked out in the quarter finals, while Sim made it through to the semi-finals where he came up against Honda and Kozu. Nat Anglem (NZE) skied very impressively today to also make it to the semi-finals. Sim did his best to hang on in the semi-final but the Japanese skiers were too strong and broke free over the top of the course. In the B-final Sim had another tough fight against two more Japanese skiers (including the 9th ranked qualifier Tomio Kanamaru who won the 15km on Thursday) and ended up 7th. Honda, Pais and Kozu came into the finish straight altogether in the A-final, and while Honda had just enough space (2 metres perhaps) to throw up his hands Pais and Kozu had to be separated by the photo finish camera.

In the women's time trial Gruber showed good form, finishing 6-7 seconds ahead of Gredig and Bottomley. With the next qualifier Naoko Omori (JPN) a further 10 seconds back it was always going to a fight between Bottomley and the Swiss girls for the podium positions. In the B-Final Sumiko Ishigaki won ahead of Andi Fancy (NZE). Gruber won the start of the A-final, with Bottomley on her tail into the first hill. A gap appeared back to Gredig as they went over the top, but then on the second short steep hill Bottomley started to go lactic and couldn't follow Gruber's pace. As Gruber came into the stadium with a clear lead Gredig was starting to close the gap on Bottomley, the Austalian just holding on across the line by about a metre.

The last Snow Farm ANC competition is tomorrow - 5km Freestyle for women and 10km Freestyle for men. A few of the guys with colds are feeling better already and are hoping to start tomorrow. There may be a delay before a report is posted as the team will be hitting the road to Christchurch soon after the races.

August 14 - Snow Farm Racing Update #1

Australian - New Zealand Cup 10/15km Classic, Snow Farm NZ, August 14
Japan and Canada took first honours in the Australia New Zealand Cup races the Snow Farm today. Tomio Kanamaru (JPN) won the 15km Classic Mass Start in a close finish ahead of Robin McKeever (CAN), and Milaine Theriault (CAN) won the 10km Classic Mass Start ahead of new Kiwi recruit Katherine Calder (NZE). Ben Sim had the best result of the Australians finishing 4th and recording his best ever FIS points. Seventeen men and seven women from five nations contested the races in perfect snow stick wax conditions on a 5km loop.

Five skiers broke away early in the 15km, including Sim, Kanamaru, McKeever, Masaaki Kozu (JPN) and Shohei Honda (JPN). The course was relatively flat through the middle of the loop with a series of steep hills at the very end of the lap. The lead pack stayed essentially together for two and half laps before McKeever made a move. Kanamaru bridged the gap on the next uphill and made a small break, but McKeever caught back up on the last downhill. Up the last herringbone climb into the stadium Kanamaru was too strong, and won by 5 seconds. Sim and Kozu were together into the last climb, with Kozu holding off Sim just enough to avoid a sprint. Just 16 seconds separated the top 5 finishers. Geoffroy Pais (FRA), winner of the Australian 15km Championship last weekend finished 6th. The next Australian was Chris Darlington in 10th place, who skied most of the race in a small pack with Andrew Mock (who was 11th) and a couple of other Japanese athletes. Leon Spiller skied a pretty good race to be 12th not far behind Mock. Mark Raymond had a massive stack off the track early on the first lap, then skied up to 13th place past Andrew Wynd who was 14th.

In the women's race Esther Bottomley leaped to the front and lead up the first hill before Theriault and Calder took over and left the rest of the field behind. Bottomley stuck with Sumiko Ishigaka (JPN) for half of the first lap, then was slowly cauight by Naoka Omori (JPN). Theriault and Calder skied solo races for the first two places, with Bottomley taking 5th place 3:45 behind after she switched off when it was clear her 5th place was secured.

Unfortunately Paul Murray came down with a cold after arriving in New Zealand and didn't start. If he gets healthy quickly he may consider racing the sprint on Saturday. Next report after this event.

August 12 - Racing Action From Perisher Valley

Australian Sprint Championship, August 9
It was a flashback to 2006 in the Australian Sprint Championship last Saturday August 9, with Victorian Esther Bottomley and Geoffroy Pais from France repeating their A-final wins from that season on the same course at Perisher Valley. Bottomley won easily ahead of Aimee Watson from NSW with Lescinska Fackerell getting up for third place ahead of Georgia Merritt. In the men's final Pais took the early lead then held on in the final straight ahead of Andrew Mock and a fast finishing Paul Murray who left his run too late.

Bottomley won the time trial by 10 seconds ahead of Watson, with her expected main rival Chloe McConville managing only 3rd place after a week of illness. McConville gambled that she might be able to pull a good sprint out of the bag, but when it was apparent that she wouldn't be competitive she cut her losses and withdrew from the finals. d'Arcy Baxter, Belinda Phillips, Camille Melvey, and Sarah Slattery were eliminated in the semi-finals. Bottomley shot to the lead in the A-final and just about had a winning margin by the top of the first hill. Merritt, Watson and Fackerell were very close half way up the hill but then Watson began to edge away. Merritt was still in contact with Fackerell into the hill the second time, but couldn't hold on and there were no close finishes. As the highest placed U20 skier Merritt became the Australian Junior Sprint Champion.

Paul Murray posted the fastest men's qualifying time ahead of Pais and Nick Grimmer. Former Australian Sprint Champion Ben Sim was the biggest casualty in the quarter finals, knocked out by Pais and 10th fastest qualifier Leon Spiller. In the first semi-final Murray looked to be in trouble behind Mock and Neil van der Ploeg, but managed to claw his way back to edge ahead of van der Ploeg at the top of the hill the second time and then hold on in the straight. From the other semi final Pais and Grimmer were too strong for Chris Darlington and Spiller, who was pretty shagged after his tussle with Sim. Pais made a great start in the A-final, stringing out the field up the hill and taking a handy lead into the downhill. Mock worked hard for the next lap and finally got onto the heels of the Frenchman as they headed into the final corner. He gave it a crack down the straight but Pais held on by 2 metres and punched the air for his win. Murray overtook Grimmer as they headed into the hill the second time and with a burst started to close steadily on the leaders, but it was all too late and he had to settle for third.

It was Mock's first Australian title, going one better than his second place in 2003 behind Ben Sim. Neil VDP won the B-final easily ahead of Darlington, with Callum Watson taking 7th overall and the Australian Junior title as the highest ranked U20 skier.

In the U16 women's final Lucy Glanville was too strong for her NSW team-mates Laura Bull and Siobhan Jones, with Anna Trnka taking 4th. Alasdair Tutt won the men's U16 final ahead of Dyllan Harmer, with Jackson Bursill 3rd and U14 junior Lachlan Porter 4th.

Full Results

Australian 10/15km Championship, August 10
If a flashback to 2006 wasn't enough on Saturday then how about a flashback to 1998? Three time Winter Olympian Anthony Evans' last national title was the 15km Freestyle in that year, and the 39 year old Jindabyne resident showed he can still shake a leg by finishing as the first Australian in the Australian 15km Championship at Perisher Valley on Sunday. Geoffroy Pais from France skied a strong last lap to win the race overall, with Evans in second place comfortably clear from Andrew Mock. In the women's 10km Aimee Watson won by a convincing 3 minute margin ahead of rising NSW junior star Lucy Glanville, with Belinda Phillips taking third.

After 3km Evans was right up there in the splits in the interval start event, within a second of Mock and pre-race favourite Ben Sim, and 6 second off the pace of Pais. Evans then turned in stomping effort in the next 5km, going 10 second clear from Pais and leaving the rest of the Australian contenders fighting for the rest of the places. Sim seemed to lose time on the downhills and was caught from 30 seconds behind by Darlington, who moved up into 4th place overall. On the final lap Pais took the lead back from Evans and skied away to victory. Mock finished comfortably in third place after Darlington tired at the start of his last lap, and though Sim left Darlington on the last hill Darlington did just enough to hold onto 4th place.

In the 10km Freestyle Watson already had a lead of one minute after the first 3km, but it was close for second between Glanville and Phillips. Watson's lead continued to grow on the second lap, while Glanville built up a small gap over Phillips to secure second place. Georgia Merritt was also not too far behind, but not close enough to threaten Phillips for the last podium spot.

Full Results

August 6 - Bullfight Charge Moves to August 16

The Lake Mountain Alpine Resort wishes to advise that the Bullfight Charge and Lake Mountain Mini Series Race 3 will be held on Saturday 16 August and not on Sunday 10 August as previously advertised on the Australian Cross Country Skiing Calender. More details of the events are available on the Lake Mountain website.

August 5 - Lots More Racing

ACT Classic Championship - August 2
NSWIS athletes Ben Sim and Aimee Watson won the open ACT Championship at Perisher Valley last Saturday, however it was the junior results that were the most interesting. 18-year-old Callum Watson was second overall in the men's 10km Classic behind Sim, while two 13-year-old juniors Lucy Glanville and Siobhan Jones topped the women's junior field in the women's 5km Classic and filled the open minor podium places. It was good weather for racing, with slightly blown in classic tracks that were unavoidable due to the fresh snow that had fallen overnight.

Callum Watson was just under two minutes and just over 5% behind Sim's winning time of 33:17, which was one of Callum's best championship results behind the reigning Australian Champion. Third place went to Chris Darlington, who didn't quite have the same spring in his legs as for the 30km the previous weekend. NSW Junior coach Cameron Morton was 4th and Victorian Mark van der Ploeg 5th, the latter struggling to find form after recent illness. Second junior in the 10km was Andrew Kovacs, ahead of the first U18 skier Robert Jones. In the younger classes the first U16 man was Mark Pollock ahead of Alasdair Tutt, the first U14 skier was Lachlan Porter, and the first U12 skier Damon Morton.

Aimee Watson won the 5km by over two minutes in the time of 19:28, but just 14 seconds separated Glanville and Jones in the race for second place. Both young NSW juniors have taken a big step up this winter. Third junior was d'Arcy Baxter ahead of the first Victorian Georgia Merritt. The first U16 junior woman in the 5km was Imogen Blanche ahead of Laura Bull and Ashleigh Spittle, the latter two separated by just 0.3 of a second. In the U14 women's 2.5km Classic Gabriella Cigana won ahead of Anna Trnka, while the first U12 girl was Georgia Cigana.

ACT Championship Results

NSW Freestyle Championship - August 3
Ben Sim and Aimee Watson backed up the next day to win the open NSW Championship in freestyle technique, but this time the podium places were different. In the men's 10km Freestyle Geoffroy Pais from France took second place, pushing Callum Watson back down to third. Lucy Glanville skied another very impressive race to take second place in the women's 5km Freestyle, with Georgia Merritt stepping up to take the remaining podium place.

Sim was just 8 seconds ahead of Pais after the first 5km lap, but the Frenchman died a little on the second lap to end up 27 seconds behind at the finish. Callum Watson was under a minute behind Sim, and looks likely to give the rest of the senior men a run for their money at the Australian Championship races at Perisher next weekend. Colby Rook skied his best race of the season so far to be second junior in the 10km, four minutes behind Watson. In the U16 men Mark Pollock topped the podium again, with Dyllan Harmer taking second and pushing Alasdair Tutt down into third. Lachlann Porter won the U14 boys again, with Damon Morton also going back to back in the U12 boys but this time against a much deeper field.

Glanville was only one minute behind Aimee Watson in the 5km, and could also surprise more of the senior women next weekend. Merritt also skied a good race to be within 10% of Watson for the first time in a distance event. Siobhan Jones was third junior, 21 seconds behind Merritt and 25 second ahead of d'Arcy Baxter. In the U16 class Imogen Blanche won ahead of her one-armed Wangaratta Ski Club team-mate Aislinn Kildea, with Ashleigh Spittle again in third place. Anna Trnka won the U14 2.5km Freestyle by 15 seconds ahead of Gabriella Cigana, while Grace Franki was the clear winner in the U12 class.

NSW Championship Results

Next weekend racing action returns to Perisher Valley with the Australian Sprint Championship on Saturday August 9 and the Australian 10/15km Championships on Sunday August 10. NSW Race Week also kicks off on the Sunday afternoon with the Boonoona Open.

Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub To Pub - August 2
Some words from the Pub to Pub organiser Mick Sinclair:

Greetings all. First we had to worry about the early forecast of rain Friday into Saturday. Then there was the forecast of gale force winds. But the 114 skiers who made it the start line on Saturday were greeted with surprisingly benign weather and sensational snow. After a couple of lean snow years on 2005 and 2006, it was great to have a 2nd consecutive year of solid complete cover, but of course there are always new challenges for us to meet, and this year it was the groomer breaking down on Friday Night. However with Greg grooming with the big machine to Whiskey Flat and Noel doing a skidoo groom from there to Dinner Plain and back, the trail was actually in great condition, as evidenced by the winning time - a big thank you to both of them. The other big difference this year was that after many years of hopping across the road crossing with one ski still attached or searching for something to extricate gunk out of bindings, we could ski across the snow covered road - only possible thanks to the Mt Hotham Resort staff helping out with traffic management - once again, many thanks.

This year also saw a changing of the guard, with perennial winner Ben Derrick finally losing his crown to Andrew Mock in a fantastic time of 29:20. Neil van der Ploeg was 43 seconds behind, narrowly beating last years second placegetter Simon Flower with 'old man' Ben coming in 4th. However, it was business as usual in the Womens event with Belinda Phillips putting in a very strong performance for her 5th win, beating Claire-Louise Brumley in her first run in the event for some years with regular competitor Ronnice Goebel in third. And of course there were lots of other individual duels, people trying to beat or at least equal previous times or just enjoying the great conditions. Thankfully patrollers Keith and Terry didn't have any dramas to attend to and as always we could not run the event successfully without their help.

The Dinner Plain Hotel again hosted us for the presentations with long time supporter Ajays Snow Country Sports providing their usual great array of spot prizes - a feature of the event for many years. Ajays - along with sister store EMC - have been terrific supporters of cross country skiing for a long time now and their enthusiasm for continuing to support this event, and cross country skiing in general is fantastic. The DP Hotel, along with The General who let us take over their fine establishment for race registration each year, are the essential bookends in helping us run the event and deserve our thanks and patronage. And finally a big thank you to the Pub to Pub team of volunteers - a small group who only run one event a year but enjoy coming back for more year after year.

About the only negative I could see for the day was when I packed up after presentations only to find my car with a flat battery outside the hotel - but thanks to a big final effort from some of our great Pub to Pub crew in push starting me in the little red imprezza that got me through to Corryong Sunday evening. Had a sensational ski between JB and Paw Paw Plains this morning before leaving DP, and if today's snow was anything to go by then yesterday really should have been lots of fun.

As I said at presentations, we want to do some special things to celebrate turning 20 next year, and I would love to hear any ideas you might have on how we can mark the occasion. I would also love to get hold of photos and results from early years.

Hope you have some great skiing for the rest of the season, and look forward to seeing you at the 2009 event.



Link to Full Results

Charles Derrick Memorial - August 3
A short report from the Charlie Derrick race at Mt Hotham by nephew Ben Derrick:

Wangaratta Ski Club again ran the Charles Derrick Memorial on Sunday August 3 at Wire Plain. A small but enthusiastic crowd completed a 5km loop (once for short course and twice for long course) around the Long Spur and Christmas Hill loops. Anyone who knows the Wire Plain trail system well will appreciate that this involves more climbing than the average mountain expedition, but with perfect tracks prepared by Greg O’Donahue of Mt Hotham Resort Management most of the field enjoyed the skiing on perfect tracks. Ben Derrick was the eventual winner in the men’s long course, but he was pushed very hard by 2005 winner Kevin Tory (I really didn’t appreciate that Kevin) and Belinda Phillips won the women’s event for the 3rd time.

With declining numbers in the Charlie over the past 10 years or so WSC will assess the race after the season. Keep an eye out for details of next years race as we will try to make it something special. A very appreciative thank you to everyone who came up for the event this year, all the volunteers that helped out on the day, and the great tracks that were prepared by Mt Hotham Resort Management.

Full Results

August 1 - Hotham To Dinner Plain Pub To Pub

The Hotham to Dinner Plain Pub To Pub race is ready to go tomorrow. Here's some news from the race organisers:

Greetings from Dinner Plain.

It's 4.40 pm Thursday and the snow started about 30 mins ago and is slowly getting heavier - lovely. Haven't managed to ski the trail yet - will check it out tomorrow - but the cover in Dinner Plain is very good and I'm anticipating excellent cover all the way.

As this snow is expected to continue into the weekend, there are 2 things you'll need to be aware of. Make sure you're prepared for all sorts of conditions on Sat and allow LOTS of time to get up the hill if you're driving up Sat morning. It will almost certainly be both slow and busy so leave early.

As usual, registrations will be at The General Store at Mt Hotham from 9.00 till 10.30, and we will be away at 11am. If you've pre registered you'll simply need to sign your printed entry and pay. (I've remembered all my computer leads this time so they WILL be printed and waiting for you!) Many thanks to those already registered. If you haven't yet registered , registrations will stay open till 9pm Friday.

Will take a few photos tomorrow and post them on the website later in the day. And we have finally established that the race first ran in 1989, so our 20th celebration will be next year. So come and celebrate 19 years with us tomorrow.

Hope to see you Saturday.

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

July 30 - NSW Sprint Report

The following report from the NSW Sprint championship on July 19 has just come in:

The first sprint races of the season were held at Perisher on Saturday 19th July and were used by NSW based Australian Team skiers, as a warm-up for the Classic Sprints at Falls Creek the following weekend, which are Australian Team selection races.

Australian team skiers - Ben Sim, Chris Darlington, Callum Watson, d'Arcy Baxter and Aimee Watson, were joined by French Skier Geoffroy Pais, who is spending his 2nd winter in Australia to train and race. Geoffroy is a member of the French Regional Nordic Ski team Haute Savoie and is combining his ski training with work experience at Paddy Pallin for the commerce degree he is studying for in France.

A strong contingent of U12 NSW Squad Skiers and Sydney based interschool skiers entered the race with Jack Hayson winning from his younger brother Max. NSW Team skier Matt Bull came in 3rd.

The U12 Girls was fought out between Sydney based Angela Stevens and Ruby Hayson, with Angela being successful overall.

In the U16 age group, Jack Johnson had a successful return to racing after an absence last year playing Rugby, with Lachlan Porter in his first year of U16 racing coming in 2nd.

The U16 girls was won by Lucy Glanville with Siobhan Jones and Laura Bull taking the minor placings.

The Open Men's race was an exciting affair, with Australian Team and NSWIS skier Ben Sim winning the time trial but then being strongly challenged in the Final, which was won by French skier Geoffroy Pais, from Junior U20 skier Callum Watson, with NSWIS and Australian Skier, Chris Darlington coming in 3rd.

The Women's Open race was won by Australian and NSWIS skier Aimee Watson from Australian U20 junior skier d'Arcy Baxter.

July 27 - Vic Sprints + Aus 15/30km

Australian 15/30km Championship, Falls Creek, July 27
It was a great day for NSW Institute of Sport athletes at the 2008 Australian 15/30km Championship. Aimee Watson won the women's 15km classic ahead of Birkebeiner's Esther Bottomley, while Ben Sim and Chris Darlington took out the quinella in the 30km classic. New snow overnight and falling during the race made ski waxing difficult, with many athletes opting for no-wax skis. Both races were held on a mostly undulating 7.5km loop starting and finishing in the Falls Creek Nordic Bowl, with one major hill climb from Panorama Corner to the top of Aitken's track via Tank Hill.

Bottomley lead out in the women's mass start, then Watson went to the front and took a small lead into Tank Hill the first time ahead of Bottomley and Chloe McConville. McConville unfortunately was the first casualty in the grip stakes, forced to withdraw on the top part of the course after her skis balled up incredibly and she was unable to clear them. Watson slowly drew away during the race to win in the time of 50:30, over three minutes ahead of Bottomley, who was in turn comfortably ahead of third placed Belinda Phillips. There was a big battle for fourth place between Lescinska Fackerell, NSW junior Lucy Glanville, and Victorian junior coach Jacinta O'Neill, with places changing throughout the race and Glanville winning in a close sprint with Fackerell.

Chris Darlington lead a breakaway trio of Geoffroy Pais and Andrew Mock early on in the first lap, leaving Neil van der Ploeg, Ben Sim, and Leon Spiller chasing behind. 2005 30km champion Mark Raymond struggled with grip and was unable to go with the leading skiers, and despite stopping for some sandpaper to roughen up his micro-base skis eventually withdrew on the third lap. Callum Watson, Ewan Watson, and Mark van der Ploeg also pulled out. On the second lap Darlington made a solo break, skiing away on former Australian champion Anthony Evans' famous "rocket crowns". Not to be outdone by his NSWIS team-mate and training partner Sim decided to up his tempo, and steadily worked his way up through the field until he caught Darlington at the start of the third lap. The pair worked together for a while, before Sim surged ahead and built up a 20 second lead early on in the final lap. However Darlington wasn't finished yet, and as fatigue started to set into Sim's arms the gap started to come down. In the end Sim hung on to win by just 7 seconds on the line. Pais took third place a minute further back, while Neil van der Ploeg got away from Mock in the closing stages to take fourth.

Australian 15-30km Results

Geoffroy Pais (FRA), Ben Sim, Chris Darlington
Australian 30km Podium, July 2008

Victorian Sprint Championship, Falls Creek, July 26
Local Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club skiers Esther Bottomley and Neil van der Ploeg took out the open finals of the 2008 Victorian Sprint Championship on Saturday. Snow conditions and the weather were perfect for the races, which were held in classic technique on a 1km loop around the Falls Creek Nordic Bowl.

After the qualifying time trial over 800m Bottomley was ranked second behind Chloe McConville, with Aimee Watson posting the third fastest time ahead of Felice Beitzel. In the men's time trial Neil van der Ploeg was ranked only fourth after French skier Geoffroy Pais, Nick Grimmer, and his brother Mark van der Ploeg. Grimmer was the only skier to double pole the course without wax, all other athletes using wax to ski up the one major hill.

Bottomley and McConville both progressed easily through to the A-final from the quarters and semis, where they were joined by Watson and Georgia Merritt. Merriitt knocked out Beitzel in the semi-finals, striding past in the last 5m as Beitzel stalled missing a pole plant. In the B-final Belinda Phillips won ahead of Beitzel and Lescinska Fackerell.

It was then a two-woman race for the top spot, with current Australian Champion and 2006 Winter Olympian Bottomley leading from the start and holding on to the win by just two metres from McConville. Watson took third place, while Merritt claimed the U20 Victorian title as the best finishing junior skier. Second and third place U20 went to Sacred Heart College skiers Lucy Alexander and Sophie Gove, who were both eliminated in the open quarter finals.

There was a tough battle in the men's semi-finals, with NSWIS athletes Ben Sim and Chris Darlington eliminated, as well as Mark VDP who allowed himself to be boxed in at a critical point of the race. Mark VDP came out firing to win the B-Final ahead of NSW junior Callum Watson, who became the U20 champion by virtue of being the highest ranked junior skier after the open finals. Places 2-4 in the U20 men's class were determined by a special final between the next four ranked juniors, which was won by Simon Flower ahead of Chris Cook. Grimmer skied very competently with wax in the quarter-finals, then reverted back to double poling in his semi-final which he won comfortably.

In the men's A-final Grimmer was quickest out of the start but Neil VDP came past as they climbed onto the aqueduct and lead into the first downhill, with the fastest qualifier Pais in third and Andrew Mock in fourth. Up the long hill Neil VDP was strong and together with Pais made a small gap over the top of the course. The two were neck and neck coming into the finish straight, Neil VDP lunging across the line to win by half a metre. Grimmer was third and Mock fourth. This is the second time that Neil VDP has won the Victorian Sprint Championship in classic technique - the first was in 2006 ahead of Ben Sim.

In the A-final for the U16 junior men Mark Pollock from Albury was too fast for Alasdair Tutt from Wangaratta and Dyllan Harmer from Wodonga. In the U16 junior women's A-final it was a NSW trifecta, with Lucy Glanville a runaway winner ahead of NSW Junior Team team-mates Laura Bull and Siobhan Jones, and Mt Beauty local Anna Trnka the first Victorian in fourth place.

Victorian Sprint Results

July 21 - Cooma Open

It was a very slow wet windy day for the Cooma Open at Perisher Valley on Sunday July 20. The course was one lap of the Perisher 10km trail and a challenge for everyone in the tough conditions. Right from the gun Chris Darloington decided to sprint away from Ewan Watson and Ben Sim, creating a solid lead within the first kilometre. Sim didn't like the thought of losing four minutes to Darlington so he made a 5km attack to catch his NSWIS team mate. Ewan Watson needed incentive to try for the same speed and found it when twin sister Aimee came within five meters of him at the 4km mark. He surged off leaving Aimee to fight for 4th overall place. Sim overhauled Darlington and went on to win by 25 seconds. Carla Ziljstra was the second woman behind Aimee Watson. NSW Junior Team U14 girls Lucy Glanville and Siobahn Jones skied the 10km and showed a lot of the masters skiers that they weren't there to muck around, finishing in a bunch sprint amongst the men.

Full Results

July 20 - Victorian Junior Championship

Mixed weather conditions greeted skiers for the Victorian Junior Championship at Falls Creek this weekend. Visibility was limited for the classic races on Saturday, while rain and wet snow slowed everyone down in the freestyle events on Sunday. Simon Flower from Mt Beauty and Georgia Merritt from Ivanhoe were the overall open junior champions, Flower a clear winner in the men's 10km event on both days while Merritt had some tough competition particularly in the women's 5km freestyle. The races were organised by the Wangaratta Ski Club, with around 50 athletes contesting the competitions each day.

Runner-up to Flower in the 10km classic was Robert Jones from Ivanhoe, however the next day Jones had problems with an injured shoulder and withdrew from the 10km freestyle event in the first kilometre. Paul Kovacs from Bright was clear in second place after the first 2.5km lap in the freestyle, then was caught by Phillip Bellingham of Mt Beauty after 5km. Bellingham went on to take second place, while Kovacs dropped back to 4th behind Colby Rook of NSW before sprinting back into third in the final straight. In the women's 5km classic Emily Bews from Anglesea sprinted to the lead at the start then dropped back several places after a big fall coming down onto the Hoppet start. Merritt skied a solo race in front, slowly pulling away to win by over a minute ahead of Imogen Blanche from Wangaratta and Ashleigh Spittle from Ivanhoe. In the 5km classic Merritt quickly established a solo lead again, however Blanche kept within striking distance for most of the race and made a last ditch attempt to bridge the gap in the final 500m. Merritt just hung on the finish straight, winning by just 1 second. Spittle - the 2008 British Pursuit Champion (see Feb 6 report) - took third place overall once again, and was also runner-up in the U16 class behind Blanche.

Mark Pollock of Wangaratta Ski Club was the run-away winner in both 5km classic and freestyle races in the junior men's U16 class, leaving Dyllan Harmer of Wodonga and Alasdair Tutt of Wangaratta to duel it out for the other podium places. Tutt took second place ahead of Harmer in the classic race, then in the freestyle event Harmer came from behind to claim second place, just 6 seconds ahead of Tutt.

Anna Trnka from Mt Beauty made a very impressive win in the U14 2.5km classic, nearly two minutes ahead of Casey Wright. Trnka backed up to win the 2.5km freestyle, this time only one minute ahead of Megan Pollock from WSC. Misa Trnka won a close race ahead of Giles Richardson in the U14 boys classic event, while Risden Weatherall was too fast in the 2.5km freestyle the next day, winning comfortably. In the U12 2.5km events local Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club skiers Sarah Hodge and Riley Mathews won on both days.

Classic Results - Freestyle Results

Molly Murray from Sacred Heart College rounding a corner ahead of Anna Lorenz from Wangaratta Ski Club
Victorian Junior Championship 5km Classic, Falls Creek

July 17 - Rocky Valley XC Tipping Competition

Rocky Valley Snowsports have announced a new cross country ski tipping series for 2008. You can buy a virtual team of five athletes from a ranking list and follow their progress throughout the season. Skiers accumulate points throughout the winter in eight selected races. Prizes are awarded to the top three tipsters in the series. More information is available via the following downloadable documents:

Information Sheet - Entry Form

July 14 - Racing Wrap-Ups

Snowgum Wodonga High Plains Tour - Saturday July 12
Seventy-two skiers in the Snowgum Wodonga High Plains Tour on Saturday were treated to a new 5km course set by the Howmans Gap Allstars. The 10km freestyle events were won by local Mt Beauty skiers Paul Murray and Esther Bottomley after some close and interesting racing. In the men's 10km event a pack of four skiers led by Mark Raymond went off the front after 500m, with last weeekend's classic winner Neil van der Ploeg missing the break after a slow start and skiing most of the race pretty much by himself. Raymond made most of the tactical moves during the race, however had his pole stepped on with 500m to go and was unable to finish off what he started. Murray managed a small break and won by four seconds ahead of Andrew Mock and Mark van der Ploeg who crossed the line basically together. Andrew Wynd, returned to Australia after a couple of years in Canada, skied a very even race to haul in Neil van der Ploeg right at the end. Bottomley and Chloe McConville swapped the lead several times in amongst a pack of men, before Bottomley made a move half way round the second lap that McConville was unable to follow. Belinda Phillips took third place ahead of Jacinta O'Neill and Lescinsca Fackerell.

In the 5km event Georgia Merritt won comfortably ahead of Lynn-Maree Cullen (nee Cranage), with a one-armed Aislinn Kildea (nursing a shoulder and wrist injury) holding off her Wangaratta ski club team-mate Imogen Blanche for 3rd place. The first male in the 5km was young Risden Weatherall in the U14 category.

Full results are now up. Look also to the Howmans Gap Allstars web pages.

YMCA Howmans Gap Victorian Interclub Relays - Sunday July 13
The Allstars put together another new course for the relays on Sunday, groomed with a classic track either side of a skating track to cater for both techniques. Four teams were close together in the open men's event on the opening classic leg, two from Birkebeiner (BNSC), one from WSC, and one from the old Team Lake Mountain (which no longer exists) made up of Andrew Mock, Andrew Wynd, and Mark Raymond. Paul Murray in BNSC #2 was first in ahead of Neil van der Ploeg from BNSC #1 (yes,it is easier to make it to the Olympics than into the Birkie #1 team), sending out Sam Drummond and Phillip Bellingham on the second (freestyle) leg. Wynd opted to ski classic for Team Lake Moutain and dropped his team back to 4th behind Cameron Dickinson from WSC. Bellingham skied the fastest second leg to deliver a handy lead to team-mate Mark van der Ploeg. Raymond came out firing, first picking up Ben Derrick from WSC, then Dan van der Ploeg from BNSC #2, then skiing off by himself for the fastest leg of the day. However it was all too late, Mark VDP anchoring home BNSC #1 to win ahead of Lake Mountain and WSC. In the open women's field it was all BNSC, with new recruit Jacinta O'Neill delivering a decisive lead to team-mates Jenny Kromar and Esther Bottomley that couldn't be matched by the team of Robin Rodd, Lescinska Fackerell, and Belinda Phillips. Third place went to Jaffa Withers, Michelle Forrer, and Georgia Merritt.

There were other events than the open class, but the results have been temporarily misplaced. Keep a look-out on the Howmans Gap Allstars web pages.

Cooma Clean Out The Waxbox - Sunday July 13
Cooma Ski Club's second race of the season was held today at Perisher Valley, the Clean Out The Waxbox. NSW junior Callum Watson opened his season's racing account with an impressive win, skiing away from his more experienced competitors Anthony Evans and Chris Darlington towards the top of the course. The 5km classic race was held on parts of the Perisher 5 and 7.5 km loops in great dry snow conditions, except the wind quickly filled the classic tracks with powder snow. This was a shame as Ken Baxter had done a great job preparing the track immediately before the race. The result was lots of skiing out of the tracks and double poling, especially for Callum who was taking no prisoners today. Callum skied away on the gradual uphill on the 7.5km loop, and extended his lead along the flats and downhills to the finish. Older sister Aimee Watson was also looking strong for her first race of the year after some great results in Europe last Northern Winter, finishing 5th overall

Unfortunately numbers of school aged juniors were down because of a clash with the NSW XC interschools. Australian Champion Ben Sim was also unable to compete because of coaching commitments with junior skiers.

Full Results

July 7 - Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs

The Cooma Clean Out The Cobwebs took place at Perisher Valley on Sunday July 6, organised by Cooma Ski Club. The race was held on the 2.5k in marginal snow conditions and damp weather conditions (snow showers but only a light breeze). A lot of work had been done by the groomer operator to get the 2.5k into really good condition considering the light snow cover. The 5k was also great for training, but too many patches to consider holding a race. Team Morton dominated the day with strong wins in both race distances - Cameron Morton won the 5km ahead of Ben Sim, while Damon Morton won the 2.5km ahead of Jackson Bursill. Young Lucy Glanville skied a very impressive race to be the first woman in the 5km event, and Laura Bull was third overall and first female in the 2.5km.

Cooma Ski Club races continue next weekend at Perisher with the classic Clean Out The Waxbox.

Full Results

July 5 - Early Season Form

The "Not The Birkie Classic" was held today at Falls Creek with a good turn-out of 36 starters for the unofficial race, boosted by a large contingent of National Team and Victorian Junior Squad athletes. Neil van der Ploeg was the first across the line in the 10km event just 3 seconds ahead of a photo finish for second between Nick Grimmer and Leon Spiller, with Mark van der Ploeg taking 4th just 10 seconds behind his brother. Mark Raymond lead to the top of the course on the first lap, however had slow skis on the downhill and lost contact with the lead pack. Esther Bottomley was the first woman in the 10km, winning comfortably ahead of Belinda Phillips and Victorian junior coach Jacinta O'Neill. In the 5km event the U16 athletes were quickest, with Mark Pollock from Wangaratta the first male and Anna Trnka from Mt Beauty the first female.

Full Results

U16 skiers Mark Pollock and Anna Trnka showed good early form

From R-L: Mark Raymond, Leon Spiller, Nick Grimmer, Mark VDP, and Neil VDP after 2km of racing.

July 2 - Not The Birkie Classic

Snow! It started on Monday and by Tuesday afternoon all the local tracks at Falls Creek were groomed - that means the standard tracks between the Dam Wall, Panorama Corner and the Wombats Ramble. With the snow coming a little unexpectedly organisers of the Birkebeiner Classic had already decided to cancel the race this weekend, however in it's place the unofficial Not The Birkie Classic will be held at Falls Creek on Saturday July 5. All skiers are welcome to join the National Team and Victorian Junior Squad in a hand timed classic technique ski race beginning from the Nordic Bowl at 10:00am. Further details such as distances and the course will be posted on the information board in Windy Corner. There will be no entry fee and no prizes, just a result list and the opportunity to test out your early season form against the elusive Nick Grimmer and other members of the National Team.

Ewan and Callum Watson skiing on the McKay Road on Tuesday July 1

Aimee Watson and Chloe McConville on man-made snow at Falls Creek
before the dump of snow, June 30, 2008

June 29 - Falls Creek Training Camp

Tomorrow the first "on-snow" training camp of the season is set to start at the National Team Training Centre at Falls Creek. Currently the only skiable snow is the man-made snow on the Falls Creek alpine runs, however more snow is forecast during the week. Training goes on regardless - skiing if possible and otherwise rollerskiing, running, and ski striding. The new double pole machine in the Falls Creek Community Gym will also get a fair workout. Thirteen athletes and three coaches will be resident at Falls Creek for the 5-day camp, with an additional five team members based down in Mt Beauty who will do mostly dryland training until the skiing conditions improve.

Evening sessions during the camp include planning for the 2008-2009 northern hemisphere winter, which has a number of major events including the World Championship in Czech, the World Junior/U23 Championship in France, and the World Universiade Winter Games in China. The World Cup circuit also includes pre-Olympic events at the Whistler Olympic Park in Canada.

Regular Australian winter reporting will start on this site from now on, with news from all the club and championship races. Reader contributions are welcome and should be emailed to: finn.marsland @ gmail.com

June 28 - AIS Testing Camp - A Mock Report

A report from the recent National Team Testing Camp at the AIS in Canberra:

The annual national team testing camp was recently held over three days (June 12-14) at the AIS. While simply visiting Canberra during June is painful enough, when you add a battery of physiological tests that could not legally be performed on animals, it is not hard to understand why many athletes view this camp as one to be endured, not enjoyed. Commendably, however, attendance at this year's camp was strong, with the following 14 team athletes present:

Chris Darlington, Robert Jones, Andrew Mock, Paul Murray, Mark Raymond, Ben Sim, Leon Spiller, Mark Van der Ploeg, Callum Watson, Esther Bottomley, Aislinn Kildare, Chloe McConville, Georgia Merritt and Aimee Watson. An additional four athletes were given the opporunity to take part in the testing: Anthony Evans, Colby Rook, Ewan Watson and Felice Beitzel.

Rightly or wrongly, the main focus of the testing camp is the infamous 'treadmill test'. This cruel protocol is designed to test VO2 max and with it, general aerobic fitness. Athletes are fitted with a vacuum cleaner hose down their throat and a peg on their nose and required to ski-stride (with poles) on a treadmill that gradually gets faster and steeper. The test is deemed complete when the athlete collapses in a puddle of their own sweat and drool. Such is the mystique surrounding this test of stamina, the self esteem of many athletes is inextricably correlated with the amount of time they can survive on the treadmill. Ben Sim has held the title of 'treadmill king' for a number of years now (with a record of 35:00), and there were no shortage of athletes looking to knock him off that perch at this year's camp.

Evidently concerned that the current generation of athletes lack the ticker to challenge Simbo's record, Coach Finn coaxed skiing legend Anthony Evans out of retirement and back on to the treadmill for old time's sake. Much to everyone's astonishment (and concern), Anthony turned back the clock to post an impressive 34:00, just one minute shy of the record. Rumours of Ant's return to competitive racing in time for Vancouver 2010 began circulating before he had even finished warming down. Many current national team members followed Mr Evans on the treadmill, yet no one could match his time. To the rescue came the two skinniest athletes on the team; Callum Watson and Mark Raymond. Boasting only 68mm of fat between them, both Mark and Callum ran impressively to clock matching times of 33:30; personal bests for both athletes. Callum posted a VO2 of 77.4 ml/kg/min, the highest for the camp. On the women's side of things, Aimee Watson lit up the treadmill, in the process demoralising a number of members of the men's team.

The camp is not all about the treadmill, however. An array of other tests were completed, including a full blood analysis, the ever-popular skin fold test and a battery of strength tests designed to settle that age-old question; 'am I stronger than a 5th grader?'. While I could not confidently reply in the affirmative based on my own performance, there were (thankfully) some impressive performances. Chloe McConville and Esther Bottomley both demonstrated that they were no strangers to the gym while Paul Murray, Chris Darlington and Mark Raymond also tested strongly.

With all of the scheduled testing completed, some of the athletes took the opportunity to get in a sneaky training session or two in Canberra, while others headed home to post their results on the fridge. A small minority are believed to have changed their names and moved to Panama.

So there we go - another year, another testing camp. And what have we learnt? Only time will tell, but I have a suspicion that the national team is in pretty good shape. Most encouragingly, there were some very impressive performances by a number of the younger team members, which can only bode well for the next couple of years. Bring on the snow. Thanks a lot to coach Finn Marsland for all of his work in organising the camp (not to mention providing shelter to no less than five athletes) and the hard-working staff at the AIS for spending their valuable weekend mopping sweat off treadmills.

- Andrew Mock

[Editor's note: Mr Mock neglected to mention that he topped the camp for time to exhaustion on the treadmill - 34:30, just 30 seconds short of Ben Sim's record for the protocol.]

Mark Raymond post treadmill test giving up his last blood lactate reading to AIS physiologist Clare Gough.

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.