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Australian Disabled XC Ski Team
Report from 2009 IPC World Championship

James Millar is Australia's sole cross country skier competing on the World Circuit.

The last two weeks have been spent in Vuokatti, Finland for the IPC Disabled World Champs 2009. Aided by the American Adaptive Ski Team James Millar was able to have race waxed skis and help during the entire Championships. James' campaign started with the 20km Classic with 4 laps on a grueling 5km course it was going to be a tough race both physically and mentally. James placed 18th with a time of 1:05.16 just over 9 minutes behind leader Tuomisto from Finland who managed to finish in just over 56 minutes. James showed a strong development in his technique since last season but said he lacked the "pop" needed for the race.

"I felt like I went into this race with no strength. My kick held up for the entire course but I just couldn't seem to put any power into the snow. I don't know if it was jetlag or coming down from altitude training but I just didn't have the tempo and felt a little flat."

With what James described as a bit of a disappointing race now behind him it was time to get down to serious racing. Following the Classic race was the 10km Skate race and it was game on from the word go. With a tight group of athletes this is one of the highly contested events on the circuit. James placed 16th with a time of 30.19 minutes only 4.29 minutes back from leader Ulset from Norway. James was happy with how he raced even though his placing wasn't ideal. He was only 14 seconds out of 12th but was still happy that he gave it his all after a sprint finish with Sato from Japan.

"I had good placement in the start list with a lot of the Red group close behind me and I used them as pace setters for the whole race, it was a tough race with very little rest but it was all out. I knew this one counted and I was totally focused, I felt better then I did for the classic a few days ago and could feel that my legs had recovered well and that my tempo was up, it was to the line with Keiichi from Japan, I think I got him but it was soo close."

The last race at World Champs was the Classic Sprint on the 1st of Feb. On a 1.2km course that didn't really favor any type of disability it was going to be a tough race for all as conditions were varying and kick was thin. It was an all out effort skiing a solid time of 3.54.5 min, 24.4 seconds back from leader Liakov from Russia but he missed out on semi finals by placing 12th only 13 seconds out of the top 8. Usually top 16 go through but as it wasn't a World Cup organisers only qualified top 8 for finals.

"I felt good today, best out of all the races so far, I had good kick and could really feel like my tempo was back up and that I could really fire. I went out hard and kept it up for the whole course, it's just a pity that only the top 8 went through and not the top 16 otherwise I probably would have had a chance to progress through and climb a few places up the list."

The Classic Sprint drew a close to the World Championships and two weeks of competing, even from a slow start to the season all James' results from World Champs placed him within 30% time behind the winner, which qualifies him by IPC rulings and strengthens his chance of qualifying for the Vancouver 2010 Para Winter Games.

The season now moves the circus onto Solleftea, Sweden for the first of the 08-09 World Cups. James will compete in the Skate Sprint and another 20km Classic at this event before returning to Colorado, America for a few weeks of preparation before the Whistler Pre-Paralympics test event and World Cup Finals at Mt Washington.

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