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Summer News 2000/2001
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Australian Team Reports 2000/2001

Program Summary  - Team Profiles

Latest Team Reports

December 7 - Good-bye Sun
December 15 - No Snow... Until Today
December 22 - A Short Time Trial
December 31 - The End of the Year That Was
NSW Juniors - Report #1
NSW Juniors - Report #2
January 8 - Paul Murray Qualifies for World Championship
January 14 - Some Low-key Races
January 24 - Swiss Championships (Posted late)
January 29 - World Juniors begin
World Juniors Special
February 7 - A couple of weeks with the Senior Team
World Championships Special
February 13 - An email from Poland

International News Sites

Cross Country Ski World
Cross Country Canada

World Racing News

December 7 - Eurosport hits Australia
December 9 - Elofsson and Belmondo lead World Cup
December 15 - Campra Continental Cup and World Cup Sprints
December 20 - Last of Pre-Christmas World Cups
January 8 - Late Report on World Cup Sprints
February 18 - Isometsae Caught Doping!
March 1 - Doping Scandal Escalates!
March 13 - Late on Norwegian World Cups
March 21 - Palmer Stars at Swedish Ski Games

Australian Summer News

November 9 - International Program and Changes in SAXC
March 21 - New School XC Program at Mt Beauty

Australian Team Reports

February 13 - An email from Poland

The following is from an email from Katie Calder, after arriving in Zakopane, Poland, for the World University Championships:

Hi everyone,

We are here in Poland, and somehow made it here alive...much to my surprise. To make a long story not so long, we had a last minute train trip planned from Munich, so we drove from Innsbruck only to find the Autobahn closed from a huge car accident. Just made it to the train station in time. Everything was good. Train to Leipzig supposed to arrive at 5:40am so we could catch connecting trains to Berlin and Krakow and Zakopane. Train arrived in Leipzig at 6:30am. Missed all connections. Sort of hired a car even though had to be older to hire one. 2 door small car had to fit in 20 pairs of skis 6 big bags, 2 wax boxes and 3 people. No one could see anyone else in the car for the entire trip. My advice: never drive in Poland, especially on the autobahns. Brief interlude with the police regarding transit speed. Small fine. 2 of the 3 people in the car drove and yep, I am surprised we made it here alive.

Here in 3rd world it is hard to find computers and phones, but we are staying in the best hotel in Zakopane. Heaps of skiers here ready to race. Was 12[degrees]C today. Should be interesting. 5km on Friday and 10km skate pursuit on Saturday. Then off to Austria and Germany for 2 more FIS pursuit races.

Will try and let you know what happens soon, but that might not be until Austria.

Best wishes


We await for more news from Zakopane.

February 7 - A couple of weeks with the Senior Team

While the World Junior Championships were underway in Poland, the rest of the Australian team continued to train and compete in Switzerland.

In the Swiss Cup race in Marbach on January 28, Camille Melvey achieved a personal best FIS points of 104.6, and with it qualification for the 2001 World Championships in Finland. The final team for the World Championships is now Camille, Paul Murray and Ben Derrick.

During the week the team took a trip in to Bern. Ten swiss francs to anyone who can match up the following people and activities: Matt O'Rourke, Ben Derrick, Leon Spiller; collecting Polish visas, going to the movies, and lingerie shopping. Leon made a remarkable achievement of trying to communicate with a parking inspector and receiving the response, "Can you please speak english". Leon, Paul and Katie also became very excited about buying tennis rackets at what they thought was the bargain price of 50 swiss francs. After picking out covers and cruising up confidently to the counter they found out that it was 50 CHF just to try out the rackets for one day. Bad luck guys.

Following the Marbach race Leon Spiller, Camille Melvey, Katie Calder and Matt O'Rourke moved to Col de Mosses to prepare for a FIS race in Feuteresoy. Not so much to report from Feuteresoy as three of the four made a mad dash to Munich after the race to catch a train to Poland.

Meanwhile Ben Derrick, Paul Murray, Robert Curtis and Belinda Phillips headed back to Austria to train in Ramsau before the Konig Ludwig Lauf, Germany's Worldloppet race. While the main Worldloppet race at the Konig Ludwig Lauf is the long classic on the Sunday, there is also a freestyle version on the Saturday, and shorter distances for each. Because of the snow conditions the long races were reduced to 46km, with 23km events held as well.

In the 46km freestyle Ben Derrick showed that long skate is still his thing, finishing fifth overall. The winner of the race was Janko Neuber from Germany, with 1999 Kangaroo Hoppet winner Vitaly Chernov of Russia taking third place. Rob Curtis also had a good result finishing in 11th place. In the 23km freestyle Belinda Phillips took third place. After the race Ben forgot to take his Peltonen skis up for the prize giving, but was he was not empty handed for long as he won a new pair of Fischers (His brothers will be fighting over those). Rob picked up a back pack and Belinda received a carved goat statue - apparently highly valued in Oberammergau. The following day Paul Murray skied the 23km classic, but was up against a tough field as three German team members entered late. Two of the Germans (no less than Andreas Schlutter and Axel Teichmann) double poled the flat course without grip wax and took the top two places. Paul was pretty happy with his 5th place against such opposition and also scored a carved goat statue for his troubles.

So now the team really has gone different directions. Rob Findlay, Belinda Phillips, Rob Curtis and James Rickard are on their way back to Australia. Leon Spiller, Duane Butcher, Katie Calder and Matt O'Rourke (wax technician) are in Poland for the World University Championships, or at least that was where they were headed. And the World Championship team has arrived in Lahti, all healthy but minus the team speed tester which still could possibly be in Canada but no-one really knows. Bob Cranage from Snowgum Wodonga will be joining the team tomorrow as wax technician, alongside Finnish wax technician Marko Passila. More news to come soon from Lahti, perhaps also some news from the World University Championships if the team email starts working again.

Swiss Cup, Marbach, January 28

Men 15km Classic
1  SUI  50:45.5  Wilheim Ashwanden
2  SUI  52:05.4  Christoph Schnider
3  SUI  52:37.4  David Romer
22 AUS  55:47.3  Paul Murray - 101.30 FIS pts
27 AUS  56:08.6  Ben Derrick - 105.49 FIS pts
55 AUS  60:16.7  Matt O'Rourke - 154.37 FIS pts
56 AUS  60:17.7  Robert Curtis - 154.57 FIS pts
83 skiers in finish
Women 10km Classic
1  SUI  41:04.1  Cornelia Porrini
2  SUI  41:27.4  Sybille Schuler
3  SUI  42:03.0  Ursula Felder
7  AUS  42:48.1  Camille Melvey - 104.60 FIS pts
32 AUS  45:59.7  Belinda Phillips - 150.98 FIS pts
36 AUS  46:51.2  Katherine Calder - 163.80 FIS pts
40 skiers in finish

Bjornstadlauf (FIS), Feutersoy Switzerland, February 3

Women 10km Classic
1  SUI  36:09.6  Doris Trachsel
2  SUI  36:37.6  Pia Zbinden
3  AUS  36:37.9  Camille Melvey 121.82
8  AUS  39:30.8  Katherine Calder 169.63
11 skiers in finish
Men 10km Classic
1  SUI  29:38.9  Simon Draeyer
2  SUI  30:32.6  Olivier Deschnaux
3  SUI  30:35.6  Daniel Romanens
15 AUS  33:11.1  Matt O'Rourke - 151.30 FIS pts
21 AUS  35:28.9  Leon Spiller - 197.78 FIS pts
28 skiers in finish

Konig Ludwig Lauf - Worldloppet, Oberammergau Germany, February 3 and 4

Places only from BD's memory as the team left straight after the race, and the team internet and email connection is down for the moment. Full results available from Konig Ludwig Lauf website.

Men 46km Freestyle
1 GER Janko Neuber 3 RUS Vitaly Chernov 5 AUS Ben Derrick 11 AUS Robert Curtis Women 23km Freestyle 1 ?? 3 AUS Belinda Phillips Men 23km Classic 1 GER Andreas Schlutter 2 GER Axel Teichmann 3 GER Jens Filbrich 5 AUS Paul Murray

 Please fill in the gaps at your own leisure. There may be some delays in reports before the media centre is set up at the World Championships in Lahti.

January 29 - World Juniors Begin

The 2001 World Junior Championships start in tomorrow in Karpacz - Sklarzka Poreba, Poland. The Australian Team for the championships is:

Duane Butcher
James Rickard
Chris Darlington

Ben Sim is also with the team as an observer. Unfortunately there has been some bad news concerning Australian Junior Team member Kieran Step. Kieran, who was training with Chris Darlington and Ben Sim under Nick Almoukov in the lead up to the championships, slipped on ice and has injured his back. After a couple of days in hospital in Slovakia, Kieran was transported by ambulance to Vienna for further examination and is currently on his way back to Australia accompanied by Nick. We wish Kieran all the best for a successful recovery.

The first races begin tomorrow - 15km for women and 30km for men, both mass start freestyle. This is the first time that mass start has been introduced to World Junior competition. There are 93 entrants from 31 nations in the men's 30km, including only two of the Australians. With James' recent illness it was thought that it would be better for him to skip the 30km and concentrate on the 10km classic. He has done three interval sessions and a race pace in the past week, and seems to be coming into good form. Chris had a bit of a stomach bug for a couple of days in the last week, but is starting to feel better and is very keen to do the 30km. Final decision for Chris will be made on the morning of the race. While the 30km hasn't exactly been in Duane's training plan (the sprint is his specialty), he wanted to do another event, and there are four days to recover before the sprint.

Australian Junior Coach Rob Findlay has been doing a pretty good job so far getting information and supplies from the Polish, which is not always easy. Speed testing has been a little hampered by the absence of the team speed tester (as per the jan 24 report, it was left in Switzerland - it is expected to be delivered tomorrow with one of the Canadian coaches), however Rob arranged with the Danish team to use their speed tester today. We will also work in with the Danes tomorrow giving drinks.

The official World Juniors website may provide some other information, however it is not sure how quickly it will be updated with results. We will try and put a summary of results up during the championships, however this will also depend on how wax testing is going for the other competitions.

Late Breaking News - Camille Melvey Qualifies for World Championships

The news came in from Leon Spiller at the Swiss Cup race in Marbach on January 28. In the 10km classic Camille Melvey skied a blinder to record approximately 105 FIS points, well under the 125 FIS points set by SAXC for Australian women to qualify for the World Championships. Though the race penalty was quite high - 79.28 - Camille climbed onto the race leader as she came past and hung on to finish in 7th place 1:44 off the winning time of 41:04, the very slow time for 10km giving an indication of the toughness of the conditions.

Although further details are not yet available (it costs a lot to call international from Poland), Belinda Phillips and Katie Calder finished in 32nd and 36th place. Paul Murray was the fastest Australian in the men 15km classic, in 23rd place with FIS points (again!) of about 101, about 5 minutes behind the winner Wilhelm Aschwanden, who won in a time of 50:45, 1:20 clear from the next skier. Such a gap is never a good indication for FIS points. Ben Derrick was a further 20 seconds behind Paul in 27th place. Matt O'Rourke and Rob Curtis were 1 second apart in 55th and 56th place.

Most skiers raced with something like Rode multigrade stick, however Leon (AKA The Master Technician) added some VF50 to Camille skis just before the start, covering with multigrade, and with this he claims all responsibility for Camille's result.

Leon will take Camille, Katie and Matt to another Swiss FIS race in Feutersoy next weekend, while the other four (Ben, Paul, Rob and Belinda) will travel back to Austria to train in Ramsau for four days before heading to Oberammergau in Germany for the Konig Ludwig Lauf.

The coach who caught his second speeding fine of the trip shall remain un-named. A 100 shilling fine for doing 64 in a 50km/hr zone hardly seemed worth the trouble for the police.

January 24 - Swiss Championships

Note - This report posted late due to lots of travel and internet connection in Poland.

The 2001 Swiss Championships were held at Langis, not very far from Luzern in central Switzerland. Accommodation had been arranged for the team at Hotel Rossli in Stalden by Swiss regional coach Raoul Volken (Some may remember Raoul from the Swiss university team that visited Australia in the late 80's), about a 10min drive from the race track (or 5min with Leadfoot O'Rourke).

The 15 and 30km classic races were up first, which were opted to be missed by Duane Butcher and Katie Calder, and also by James Rickard after two laps of the 7.5km course. James wasn't 100% healthy and subsequently skipped the next two races as well in an effort to be so. Penalties for both the long races were quite high, as some of the top Swiss skiers had just returned from the World Cup races in Salt Lake City and didn't start. Camille Melvey was happy with her race as she felt her technique started to come together on the second lap. Belinda Phillips felt flat and was not very satisfied with her race, compounded by 4-5 falls. Paul Murray and Ben Derrick decided to make it difficult for the guys giving drinks by coming through together in different tracks, as did Matt O'Rourke and Robert Curtis. Tip for punters - if you are coming through to a drink station with a fellow team member at least try to be on the same side of the track. Both pairs of skiers had a pretty good battle, at least untill Matt hit the wall with about 3km to go. Results below.

The sprint specialists (Duane and Katie) were strutting around and talking trash like track sprinters before the 1.3km sprint , however they proved to be the casualties in the qualifying time trial. Duane caught a ski on the first sweeping corner, crashed and lost all his momentum on the longest downhill. Katie started very well and had nearly caught the girl in front of her with only 300m of rolling track to the finish, however also fell and lost a lot of time. That was it for Duane, however Katie got a chance to redeem herself in the finals as all 16 women qualified, including Belinda and Camille in 14th and 15th place. None of the Australian girls made it through to the next round, however Katie skied very well in her heat to finish in contact with the 8th and 9th ranked skiers, and Belinda had a tussle with the 11th ranked skier down the finishing straight.

None of the senior guys qualified for the finals, with Paul the fastest Australian 14 seconds off the blistering pace of Marcus Hasler from Liechtenstein. To not much surprise, Ben was within a couple of seconds of Paul, and then Matt Rob and Leon were all within a second or so as well. The FIS penalty for both the men and women's sprints were not so good, even though quite good skiers were present. The problem is that this is the first year that "sprint" FIS points have been used, and hence many skiers do not have sprint points or only sprint points from an earlier race with a bad penalty. It will probably take a while (perhaps some years) until this anomaly is rounded out.

The one-day pursuit was the busiest day of the season so far for the coaches, especially as the classic race was run second. Three different start times for the skating race - junior men, women and men. Speed testing, streamline rubbed on the fastest pair. No lunch for the weary, only grip wax testing and then frantic application before the pursuit starts, plus streamline again for glide. Follow up with splits and videoing, it is probably no surprise that we forgot to pack up the speed tester at the end of the day and it was left behind. But back to the races. Grip wax was "The Mix", home cooked Rode Gelb and Swix Blue extra 50/50 for most, although some opted for a bit of Techno Silver and Matt went with Swix VR60 on his klister skis. Duane had a pretty good skate, but the classic pursuit was not to his liking. Camille followed up a fair skate with a pretty good classic, which bodes well for the classic races coming up. Belinda skied better than she has recently, however a big fall in each race didn't help her result. Katie pulled out of the race before the start, as her heart rate was nearing maximum during the warm-up. Ben cranked in the skate, finishing 9th with all the best Swiss men present, but faded to 23rd in the pursuit. Paul picked up a couple of places in the pursuit but lost overall time to Ben after being up early (in the race, not in the night!). Matt and Rob had another to and fro, with Rob taking the line honours. Leon had a good skate, but then was mixed up in controversy in the classic pursuit. On the first big downhill one of the Swiss collided with a tree, and was left lying on the track. Some managed to get around him, but Leon was forced to take a huge leap over the top, resulting in a big nose dive. Duane Butcher and Belinda Phillips were among the first on the scene afterwards, and waved frantically to other skiers while calling for help (which arrived by helicopter within about 15 minutes). The tree casualty was still there when the skiers came around the next lap; hopefully he is alright now. Bad call for the day came from Leon, who said on the second lap "At least that's one guy I'm ahead of".

Good news for the men was the best FIS points of the season so far for Matt and Rob, and also less than a second holding Paul Murray from his second result under 100 points. Camille and Belinda also recorded their best points since Campra.

Following the Swiss champs the junior and senior teams split up. The seniors headed to Marbach for the next Swiss Cup race under the guidance of Leon Spiller, the juniors back to Angerberg with Finn Marsland and Rob Findlay for a few days before departing for Poland and the World Junior Championships.

Swiss Championships, January 18-21, Langis Switzerland

Women 15km Classic Mass Start, January 18
1  SUI  50:51.3  Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi
2  SUI  51:08.0  Sereina Mischol
3  SUI  52:34.8  Andrea Senteler
17 AUS  58:19.7  Camille Melvey - 211.95 FIS pts
22 AUS  63:03.5  Belinda Phillips - 304.96 FIS pts
Men 30km Classic Mass Start, January 18
1  SUI  1:31:05.3  Andreas Zihlmann
2  SUI  1:31:08.7  Patrick Roelli
3  SUI  1:32:36.7  Simon Hallenbarter
26 AUS  1:39:27.3  Ben Derrick - 152.97 FIS pts
28 AUS  1:39:41.3  Paul Murray - 155.44 FIS pts
39 AUS  1:47:06.3  Robert Curtis - 236.98 FIS pts
41 AUS  1:48:41.0  Matt O'Rourke - 254.28 FIS pts
44 AUS  1:55:03.2  Leon Spiller - 314.22 FIS pts
Women 1.3km Sprint Freestyle, January 20
Time Trial
1  SUI  2:43.48  Andrea Huber
2  SUI  2:46.35  Laurence Rochat
3  SUI  2:47.50  Andrea Senteler
14 AUS  3:16.50  Belinda Phillips - 235.00 FIS pts
15 AUS  3:20.44  Camille Melvey - 254.28 FIS pts
16 AUS  3:27.20  Katherine Calder - 287.36 FIS pts (Fell)
Men 1.3km Sprint Freestyle, January 20
Time Trial
1  LIE  2:19.16  Markus Hasler
2  SUI  2:22.77  Christoph Eigenmann
3  SUI  2:23.58  Peter Von Allmen
23 AUS  2:33.39  Paul Murray - 130.03 FIS pts
29 AUS  2:34.91  Ben Derrick - 138.76 FIS pts
38 AUS  2:45.26  Matt O'Rourke - 198.26 FIS pts
39 AUS  2:45.99  Robert Curtis - 202.46 FIS pts
40 AUS  2:46.71  Leon Spiller - 206.60 FIS pts
Junior Men 1.3km Sprint Freestyle, January 20
Time Trial
1  SUI  2:26.63  Christian Stebler
2  SUI  2:26.89  Robert Guidotti
3  SUI  2:27.08  Thomas Diezig
29 AUS  2:49.88  Duane Butcher (Fell)
Women 5km/5km1-day Pursuit, January 21
1  SUI  26:07.5  Andrea Senteler (Skate time 12:49)
2  SUI  26:21.0  Laurence Rochat (12:40)
3  SUI  26:40.3  Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi (12:25)
16 AUS  30:14.9  Camille Melvey (14:46) - 140.70 FIS pts
23 AUS  31:47.5  Belinda Phillips (15:12) - 176.17 FIS pts
Men 10km/10km 1-day Pursuit, January 21
1  SUI  46:10.2  Reto Burgermeister (21:52)
2  SUI  46:33.5  Wilheim Aschwanden (22:09)
3  SUI  46:57.2  Gian Andrea Bundi (22:26)
23 AUS  50:21.3  Ben Derrick (23:37) - 77.59 FIS pts
41 AUS  52:09.9  Paul Murray (25:09) - 101.11 FIS pts
50 AUS  54:22.7  Robert Curtis (25:48) - 129.87 FIS pts
51 AUS  54:29.7  Matt O'Rourke (26:27) - 131.39 FIS pts
57 AUS  57:21.4  Leon Spiller (26:28) - 168.58 FIS pts
Junior Men 7.5km/7.5km 1-day Pursuit, January 21
1  SUI  43:18.4  Thomas Diezig (20:31)
2  SUI  43:27.4  Christian Stebler (21:11)
3  SUI  44:12.3  Remo Fischer (20:49)
35 AUS  51:31.8  Duane Butcher (23:58)

January 14 - Some Low-key Races

The planned race for this weekend was the Koasalauf in St Johann (im Tirol), which was to incorporate the Austrian long distance championship. However this race was cancelled due to insufficient snow. Instead, two other races were found at last notice - the British Army champs (Afternote - divisional champs only!) in Hochfilzen and the "Bezirks Cup" in Walchsee.

Training in Ramsau during the week was exceptional, and it was a shame to have to leave. Conditions in Angerberg are still below par, however we only have another day and a half before we leave for the Swiss Championships.

British Armed Services Championships (?), Hochfilzen Austria, January 11

Mixed 10km Classic
1  AUS  28:18.6  Latrine Boy Ben Derrick
2  AUS  28:36.7  AWOL Paul Murray
3  AUS  30:43.6  Potato Peeler Leon Spiller
4  AUS  30:44.4  Trapper Rob Curtis
5  GBR  30:50.3  Lt Cpl Mark Campbell
10 AUS  32:11.3  Gunner James Butcher
21 AUS  33:34.9  Miss Camille Melvey
34 AUS  35:11.7  Miss Belinda Phillips
104 skiers in finish

This was quite a tough course, especially considering the Aussies started at the back and all the hills were sugar. Paul Murray was 10s up on Ben Derrick after the first 1.5km, hanging steady 5s behind from around 5 to 6.5km, and then BD pulled away the last time up the hill to be 18s up at the finish. Leon took an early lead on Rob Curtis, Rob took it back on the last climb, but then Leon finished fast (downhill) to just squeeze in ahead.

Matt O'Rourke, Katie Calder and James Rickard elected to remain in Ramsau and ski a race pace.

"Bezirks Cup", Walchsee Austria, January 14

Men 10km Classic
1  AUS  26:50.4  Ben Derrick
2  AUS  26:55.7  Paul Murray
3  AUT  27:58.9  Peter Kronbichler
5  AUS  29:25.2  Leon Spiller
7  AUS  29:59.2  James Rickard
9  AUS  30:00.0  Matt O'Rourke
11 AUS  30:04.1  Rob Curtis
15 AUS  30:22.1  Duane Butcher
19 AUS  31:24.4  Finn Marsland
Women 5km Classic (very very flat)
1  AUS  15:51.2  Camille Melvey
2  AUS  16:59.4  Katherine Calder
3  AUT  16:59.9  Patrizia Rausch
4  AUS  17:05.6  Belinda Phillips  

The pre-race excitement was when the gas bottle caught fire with a leaky top and had to be extinguished with many frantic handfulls of snow. The race was changed from mass-start to interval start and the men's course changed to include a big hill or two, much to the dismay of the coach who had entered under false assurances. The women's course was very flat, basically 5km of double pole, as was the first 4km and the last km of the men's race. Camille was very happy with the flat course. Ben and Paul had another close race, with Paul up at a mid-race split but losing time with a stumble on an uphill and on the last steep uphill. Leon caught and went past Matt from 30s behind on the early flat section, but Matt caught back up on the hills and was just behind at the finish. All the rest of the skiers struggled to maintain speed on the flat sections. In particular the coach who also struggled on the big hill as well. Camille and Ben picked up a bottle of champagne each for skiing the fastest times, and the Burgermeister of Walchsee was granted a photo session with the team post race.

PS Many thanks to PowerBar Australia and PowerBar Europe for arranging to supply product to the team in Europe.

January 8 - Paul Murray Qualifies for World Championship

That's the big news for the year so far, which was spent mostly in Abtenau near Salzburg in Austria.

Continental Cup Sprint, January 4
Paul Murray finished 9.4 seconds behind the fastest qualifier in the 1.2km OPA Continental Cup Sprint in Abtenau, missing out on the final by 1.2 seconds. The qualifying time gave Paul FIS points of 78.69, well under the 100 point standard set for the 2001 World Championships in Lahti Finland. The fastest qualifier was Stephan Kunz from Liechtenstein, who took a big leap up last year with multiple podium finishes in World Cup.

The final of the sprint was won by Bruno Debertolis of Italy, after Kunz and Klaus Marotti from Italy brought each other down 400m out from the finish.

"It's a relief," said Paul, after doing a little dance in his hotel room. "Now I can concentrate more on training over the next month to make sure I ski the best I can in Lahti."

Junior Duane Butcher also put in a highly creditable performance in the sprint, finishing another 6 seconds behind Paul and scoring FIS points of 107.85. Duane missed out on the junior final by 2.3 seconds.

Ben Derrick, who has already qualified for Lahti, finally admitted that sprints are not his thing.

In the women's 600m sprint Katherine Calder was 10.3 seconds behind the fastest qualifier Arianna Follis of Italy, and just 1 second outside the finals. The sprint was too short for Camille Melvey, who was 9.3 seconds after Katie, while Belinda Phillips had a fall and was another 3 seconds back. Unfortunatley, all the women's FIS points were inflated by a high race penalty, as two of the skiers in the top 5 did not have "sprint" FIS points. The TD for the competition, Georg Zipfel of Germany, drafted a letter to FIS suggesting that the overall FIS points list be used to calculate the penalty for sprint competitions.

The women's final was won by Flurina Bachmann of Switzerland, in a very close finish with Andrea Mali from Slovenia. In bizarre circumstances the 3rd and 4th skiers lunged at the line and fell, only to find that both were short of the line. This led to a humorous scramble across the line, not unlike a certain skier at a race in Canada with their ski stuck in the timing equipment

German Sprint Championships, January 3
Now to backtrack a day. Before the Continental Cup competitions began, a car-load (Paul Murray, Ben Derrick, Duane Butcher, Katie Calder, plus Finn Marsland) headed off to the German Sprint Championships in Rottach-Egern, near Schliersee, home of sprint king Peter Schlickenrieder.

A night of rain pretty much destroyed the race track - 600m of snow with dirt and stones mixed in. Two laps each for men and women. The only place for warm-up after the race had started was a field of grass with 2cm of snow on top. Tobias Angerer of Germany posted the fastest qualifying time of 2:59.2, just ahead of Schlickenrieder and Rene Sommerfeldt. Paul Murray was 20.8 seconds off the pace, with Ben Derrick a further 1.9sec behind. Duane Butcher died a bit on the second lap, but was still up there only 3.5 seconds behind Ben. The fastest woman was Claudia Kunzel, ahead of Manuela Henkel, who finished 4th in the last World Cup sprint. Katie Calder was 40 seconds behind the fastest time.

FIS points? Not sure, as no Australians made the finals we made the dash back to Abtenau. IF the race penalties were about 35, then Paul's points would be about 127 and Katie's about 198. So likely not very good points, but good experience anyway. Schlickenrieder and Henkel went on to win in the finals.

Continental Cup, January 6
Unfortunately this was not a great day for Australian results. It was a tough course and no-one really felt very satisfied with their performances. The best FIS points belonged to Ben Derrick, at 98.16, but as Ben pointed out, he should be about 2 minutes faster over that distance. It was discussed amongst the team that all the travel over the past two weeks has interrupted training, and also that the focus on sprints (while good for sprint races) hasn't helped over the longer distances (no revelation here).

Results - OPA Continental Cup, Abtenau, January 4-6

Men 1.2km Sprint Freestyle - Time Trial
1  LIE  2:44.6  Stefan Kunz
2  ITA  2:44.7  Klaus Marotti
3  AUT  2:45.1  Jurgen Pinter
4  AUT  2:45.3  Thomas Stoggl
5  ITA  2:45.4  Bruno Debertolis
20 AUS  2:54.0  Paul Murray - 78.69 FIS points
31 AUS  2:03.5  Ben Derrick - 124.86 FIS points
34 AUS  3:07.8  Matt O'Rourke - 145.76 FIS points
35 AUS  3:09.6  Robert Curtis - 154.51 FIS points
37 AUS  3:09.9  Leon Spiller - 155.96 FIS points
Junior Men (U20) 1.2km Sprint, Time Trial
1  AUT  2:50.2  Ulrich Eger
20 AUS  3:00.0  Duane Butcher -107.85 FIS points
27 AUS  3:15.4  James Rickard - 182.70 FIS points
Women 600m Sprint Freestyle, Time Trial
NOTE: FIS Penalty extra high due to 2 skiers without points in top 5!
1  ITA  1:33.1  Arianna Follis
2  SLO  1:33.4  Andrea Mali
3  ITA  1:34.0  Magda Genuin
4  SUI  1:34.5  Flurina Bachmann
5  SUI  1:35.3  Andrea Huber
18 AUS  1:43.4  Katherine Calder - 170.18 FIS points
22 AUS  1:52,7  Camille Melvey - 250.09 FIS points
23 AUS  1:55.9  Belinda Phillips - 277.59 FIS points
Junior Women (U18) 600m Sprint Freestyle, Time Trial
1  SLO  1:34.7  Vesna Fabjana
17 AUS  1:53.0  Rhiannon Palmer - 252.67 FIS points

5/15km Freestyle

Men 15km Freestyle
1  LIE  34:21.3  Stephan Kunz
2  AUT  35:04.7  Johannes Eder
3  GER  35:08.8  Tobias Angerer
4  ITA  35:10.5  Biago Di Santo
5  AUT  35:11.8  Jurgen Pinter
35 AUS  37:55.2  Ben Derrick - 98.16 FIS pts
49 AUS  41:27.8  Paul Murray - 160.04 FIS pts
50 AUS  41:44.4  Robert Curtis - 164.88 FIS pts
53 AUS  42:57.2  Matt O'Rourke - 186.07 FIS pts
54 AUS  43:53.3  Leon Spiller - 202.40 FIS pts
Junior Men 15km Freestyle
1  GER  36:12.6  Toni Lang
35 AUS  42:53.2  Duane Butcher - 184.90 FIS pts
36 AUS  44:08.3  James Rickard - 206.76 FIS pts
Women 5km Freestyle
1  GER  12:33.2  Evi Sachenbacher
2  ITA  12:35.4  Arianna Follis
3  SLO  12:46.1  Natasa Lacen
4  GER  12:50.8  Viola Bauer
5  SLO  12:57.3  Petra Majdic
53 AUS  15:10.3  Camille Melvey - 163.75 FIS pts
59 AUS  15:19.0  Belinda Phillips - 170.68 FIS pts
61 AUS  15:38.6  Katherine Calder - 186.29 FIS pts

Much of the time between competitions and training in Abtenau was taken up by moving the three team vehicles, as parking time in the town centre was limited to 1.5 hours. Parking tickets? They're for people from other countries aren't they?

So now the team is in Ramsau, Austria, site of the 1999 World Championships. It dumped snow the day after we arrived, and now the snow conditions are very good. Special thanks to Ramsau resident Heinz Pitzer, who found some accommodation for us here at very short notice. The plan is to stay here for a week of quality training and then move back to Angerberg, which hopefully will have more snow by then. Also awaiting the team in Angerberg is the season's supply of energy food from PowerBar, which arrived in the past few days.

NSW Juniors - Report #2

Hi all,

On the weekend of the 6th and the 7th, we competed in the Slovakian selection competition for Juniors, which was a senior race as well. The weather was similar to Falls Creek and a bit better than Mt Hotham (Joke).

The competition was tough, as all of the Slovakian Junior Team competed, in an attempt to gain selection for the Junior World Championships. It was the first competition in Slovakia this winter, as all of the other places have no snow.

The classic race on Saturday was 5km for Ben Sim and Kieran Step, and 15km for Nick Almoukov and Chris Darlington.

In the under 16's, in the classic race, Ben Sim had bad luck. He didn't know to get his skis marked, and as a result, missed the start by 1.5 mins. If he didn't miss the start, he would have achieved 2nd place, out of 31 competitors. His official result was, 12th. All of the people at the race, were aware of his situation. Nick was very fustrated about it.

Kieran Step finished in 10th place in the under 18's.

In the 15km classic, Chris Darlington missed a turn off from a down hill and had to go back 30m. He finished in a strong 11th position. His time was 50:35, the winning seniors time was 42:09. We don't have the winning juniors time with us.

Nick was close to Chris the whole way and he finished 8 seconds in front of Chris. Nick placed 7th in seniors. Nick's time was 50:27. Nick and Chris weren't happy with their results.

On the next day in the 7.5km skate, Ben attracted the crowds attention when he was very close with the leaders the whole way. He finished third out of 33 competitors. He was 26 seconds behind 1st and 1 second behind 2nd. Without a collision with another skier, he would be in 2nd place. At the presentation, Ben got a big applause and when he opened his envelope, he was extremely happy to find some prize money.

Kieran also did very well in the under 18's. He finished 8th. His time was less than 10% behind the winner and only 5 seconds behind Ben, as they did the same distance.

In the 10km skate, Chris started 30 seconds behind Nick and impressively for Nick, over-took him on the second lap up a big hill and dissapeared over the top. Chris finished 1min 21 secs in front of him.

Chris was 11th in juniors, the winner's time was 33:05 and Chris' time was 37:46.

Nick was happy on Sunday arvo, even though he didn't have a good race for himself.

We are now preparing for the next races and will write another report after that.

NSW Juniors - Report #1

The NSW Team has settled in well.

After 3 days of travelling, Ben Sim, Kieran Step, Chris Darlington, under Nick Almoukov finally made it to the training destination. We are staying in Strbske Pleso in Slovakia.

Lack of snow is making some difficulties for us, however we are skiing anyway on a small loop.

We are more than satisfied with all of our facilities in the Hotel.

Unfortunately, the race that was going to be on the 29th, was moved to the 6th of January, and the FIS race in Zacopane, Poland has been canceled due to lack of snow.

On the 27th and the 28th we were hit with rain, which destroyed the snow fall that was before it.

Every body is healthy and happy which is very important.

We have got a problem for this trip. We don't have a computer, so internet access is costing us big dollars, so our reports will be short and dry.

If any one would like to contact us, either write to chrisdarlo@hotmail.com, or nickalmoukov@hotmail.com

Another report will come out after our first race.


Nick Almoukov

December 31 - The End of the Year That Was

Much has happened since the last report. Another time trial, Christmas, a Swiss Cup in Campra, two World Cup sprints, near homelessness, and finally a day of near rest (except for the regional Austrian race on right now). Lets move along in roughly chronological order.

Time Trial - December 24
~10km - times including 5km splits.

Ben Derrick    23:06 (11:18, 35:10 - another lap for Ben)
Paul Murray    24:47 (11:58)
Matt O'Rourke  26:30 (12:54)
Rob Curtis     26:30 (13:09)
Duane Butcher  26:52 (13:10)
Leon Spiller   27:03 (13:12)
James Rickard  -     (13:18)
Belinda Phillips 29:57 (14:34)
Camille Melvey   30:56 (15:03)


Katie Calder    15:08
Rhiannon Palmer 15:19


Christmas as summarised by Matt O'Rourke: "We ate a lot of stuff and didn't ski enough." As summarised on the day by Rhiannon Palmer (with dancing): "It's Christmas! Merry Christmas! Tra-la-la-la..."etc. Christmas brought with it Rob Findlay from the airport in Munich, just in time to finish off the remainder of the feast provided by Chef Belinda and her henchpeople - roast chicken and potatoes, honey carrots, peas, gravy, cauliflower in cheese sauce, cheese cake, chocolate mousse, custard, Jane's Derrick's christmas cake, pretzels, chips and peanut buttery cheesy things. Additional guest (also vegie chopper and ski tester) over the Christmas period was Jeannette Korten from the Australian Alpine Ski team. Special event for the evening was Team Trivia (aka Ben and Leon's Infuriating Game of Many Questions.). All questions and answers courtesy the hosts' personal trivial knowledge. Trivia was won by the combination of Calder, O'Rourke and Rickard (hard to believe I know). What sort of person knows that C3PO speaks over 6 million languages, or can name three Brittney Spears songs? Anyway, the best present of all was the travel scrabble.

Swiss Cup, Campra, December 28

There was now division in the team! Actually it was all planned with Finn, Paul and Katie going to the sprint world cup and the rest of the team travelling to Campra.You need a very, very good map to find it. Fortunately we had one of those, so without deviating for round-a-bouts or travelling on the right side of the road all the time the team made it's way to Campo Blenio.

The next day the team skied the course, which was done in very good humour for exactly 5km. Then we started on the hilly 5km. It was like skiing tank hill at Falls Creek. Only longer. And steeper. Many times. The rest of the day was spent psychologically rehabilitating and ski waxing.

The next day saw some fresh snow on the track and Cera F being the order of the day. Unfortunately Matt and Rhiannon were sick and decided not to race. It was a good measure of the team spirit that most people tested other peoples ski's so that we all had the fastest ski's possible for the race (even though everybody ended up racing on their own). This was probably the biggest race that a few members of the team had started in so it was good to finally get to the start and see where we were at.

The women were first and Camille and Belinda both put in solid performances on what turned out to be quite a tough course. Swiss team member Natasha Leonardi-Cortesi was first in her first come back race after injury, although even she was looking tired up the hills towards the end.

Then as the women started their warmdowns the men started in what was almost the stongest field that could be assembled with Swiss skiers (Willhelm Aschwanden was the only Swiss World Cup skier not present). Everybody raced quite well, with Rob Curtis probably not going hard enough, Duane Butcher going harder than ever before, James Rickard doing well at the head of the red start group and Leon Spiller doing an almost perfect imitation of skiing without any knee flexion up the tough hill at 14km, fortunatley that was where Matt was standing with the video camera and nobody was looking super fresh. The FIS penalty was an incredibly low 25 points, which enabled Ben Derrick to ski a respectable 70 points and James and Duane to reach the qualifying standard for World Juniors (better that 185 points).

Men 15km Freestyle
1  SUI  36:23.8  Beat Koch
2  SUI  36:46.7  Patrick Roelli
3  SUI  36:58.7  Patrik Maechler
4  SUI  37:06.5  Gian Andrea Bundi
5  SUI  37:33.9  Reto Burgomeister
13  AUS  39:09.3  Ben Derrick    70.84 FIS pts
81  AUS  43:15.1  Robert Curtis  138.37 FIS pts
96  AUS  45:25.3  James Rickard  174.15 FIS pts
97  AUS  45:33.1  Duane Butcher  176.29 FIS pts
102 AUS  46:05.2  Leon Spiller   185.11 FIS pts
113 skiers in finish, FIS Penalty 25.37
Women 10km Freestyle
1  SUI  28:01.9  Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi
2  SUI  28:07.9  Sereina Mischol
3  SUI  28:10.1  Cornelia Porrini
4  LIE  28:11.2  Martina Negele
5  DAN  28:20.0  Uiloq Slettemark
24 AUS  31:18.1  Camille Melvey   136.97 FIS pts
29 AUS  31:38.7  Belinda Phillips 144.32 FIS pts
46 skiers in finish, FIS Penalty 66.98


Sprint World Cups, Engelberg, December 28/29

It was always the plan to start Ben Derrick and Paul Murray in these World Cup Sprints, and following the sprint time trial the week before it was decided to take Katie Calder for the freestyle sprint as well. Ben decided to ski in the Campra Swiss Cup on the 28th, and then come across for the freestyle sprint only. A World Cup debut for all concerned, but it nearly wasn't to be.

Skiing on the race course the night of the 27th, we ran into the TD, Hermod Bjorkestol from Norway, who informed us that 100 FIS points were needed to start in the World Cup Sprint. Ben was qualified, however the other two skiers were not. This was contrary to an email received from the FIS office last June. The next morning we produced a copy of the email, were informed that it was most definitely wrong, however it was decided that Paul and Katie would be allowed to start and that their FIS points would stand.

The course for both the classic and freestyle sprints was two laps of an 850m loop, with the top 16 skiers from the time trial to qualify for the finals. It was fairly flat for most of the loop, with a short hill 80m out of the start and one steep 11m hill in the middle. Our goal, for Paul and Katie at least, was to reach the 100 FIS point barrier, which would also qualify them for the World Championships in Finland.

Snow on the tracks was man-made, however it started snowing considerably on the day of the classic race, temperature just below zero. The snow did ease however as the race time approached. Paul had two sets of skis ready to go, one with Swix VR50 stick wax, the other with silver special klister. The stick skis were faster, and he went with those. From observation, most skiers went with stick wax, but there was a noticable presence of silver klister as well. Every skier herring-boned up 90% of the big hill.

Paul started fast and skied the first lap looking strong. The second lap he kept it together however lacked a little spring up the big hill. It was all over in 4 minutes 43 seconds, 35 seconds off the pace of the faster qualifier, unknown Lauri Pyykonen from Finland. This corresponded to 14.24% behind, or 113.96 FIS points. Close but no banana. For a sprint, 100 pts is 12.5 % - for a normal interval start, it is 16.66%. It should be noted that the field was spread out more than previous sprints - 8.6 seconds separated the top 16, compared to less than 4 in Brusson.

Norwegians and Italians went on to dominate the finals, with ex-Dutchman Jan JakobVerdenius triumphant over fellow Norge Tor-Arne Hetland. In the women's finals, Bente Martensen won ahead of Pirjo Manninen. More info in the World News section, but maybe in a day or two (this is a rest day).

One sprint down, one to go. This time the snow hung on until just before the time trials before starting to dump and then easing slightly. The women's time trials were on first, with Katie Calder starting in 42nd place (out of 42, a pretty small but elite world cup field). The fastest time was posted by Julia Tchepalova, 4 minutes 4.5 seconds, which was an incredible 3.5 seconds clear from second and nearly 10 seconds from fourth.

Katie looked good out of the start, and 250m into the race was approximately 3.5 seconds up on number 41, a Slovenian. Form up the big hill was sensational, but unfortunately that's where the good news ends. A spectacular fall on the downhill lost maybe 15 sec, momentum and a hat, and from there the race was over for all practical considerarations. Not the world cup debut we were hoping for, but some small consolation can be gained from the aforementioned Slovenian going on to score 86.82 FIS points.

Ben and Paul were quite close in the men's time trial, with Paul smoking on the first lap and Ben pulling back some seconds on the second lap. At the finish Paul had Ben by about 1.3 seconds, but of course the important comparison is to the guy with the fastest time, Christian Zorzi of Italy, who turned out to be the villain of the day. Zorzi was 2.1 seconds clear of second place, and Paul was 1.6 seconds outside 100 FIS points. Cries of "Aaaaarrrrgghhhhh" all round.

So unfortunately our goals for these World Cups were not quite reached, but while the athletes are disappointed, they are also looking forward to the next opportunities at the Continental Cup in Abtenau, and possibly the German Sprint Championships. Stay tuned.

A home at last!
Early accommodation in Abtenau had fallen through, but Peter Moysey had managed with much persistance to find us some accommodation over the new year, and the team set off back to Austria. However, upon arrival in Neustift (near Innsbruck, don't go there) it was found out that our apartments had been double booked and we had the short straw. Despite over an hour of argueing, hassling, pleading from Katie Calder (who has stepped up to the position of team German translater) with the owners and the Tourism office who had taken the booking, and an offer to sleep on the floor of a table tennis room, we were finally informed that they could help us no more. We turned once again to the mercy of Pete Moysey and the prospect of apartment cramming in Angerberg. In fact we drove to Angerberg, crammed into his apartment, and awaited his return. And then the Saviour returned. On the way home Pete did the rounds of the tourist offices, and then by chance struck gold. The apartments that we had originally booked into before roaming for snow were now vacant again! Very comfortable thanks, mothers can now breath a sigh of relief.

Late Breaking News
Skiers just returned from the International Sylvester Langlauf in Kossen. An extremely flat 24km freestyle in dumping snow, soft track, mass start. Camille and Belinda took the first two places amongst the women, and scored 1500 ATS and 1000 ATS each. Rob Curtis was the first Aussie guy in 17th place, with Leon in 30th and James 2nd in the junior men. Approximately 85 skiers finished. Leon won a spot prize which he thinks is rocket-fuel but may be aftershave.

So time is fast approaching for New Year's Eve in Worgl. Hip hip hurrah, happy year and all that.

December 22 - A Short Time Trial

Skiing conditions in Obertilliach are still very good. Every now and then there is a brief dusting of snow just to cover up the ice on the road. Luckily another apartment was found and we can stay here until the 26th, after which all cars head west for the Swiss Cup race in Campra and the World Cup Sprints in Engelberg.

Word came through earlier in the week that the classic sprint in Garmisch was cancelled, however the latest news is that it has been moved to December 28th in Engelberg, with the Engelberg freestyle sprint on the 29th. We are still however awaiting final confirmation from the organising committee.

Yesterday we had some sprint time trials. It should be noted that skiers had differing levels of ski preparation, and ski speeds varied quite a bit.

~1500m Classic
3:15 Paul Murray
3:35 Leon Spiller
3:39 Matt O'Rourke
3:41 Duane Butcher
3:47 Rob Curtis
3:50 James Rickard

4:17 Camille Melvey
5:36 Rhiannon Palmer*
5:37 Belinda Phillips*
* RP and BP took a wrong turn

~1500m Skating
2:54 Ben Derrick
3:02 Paul Murray
3:10 Leon Spiller
3:11 Duane Butcher
3:12 Matt O'Rourke
3:15 James Rickard
3:19 Rob Curtis

3:40 Katherine Calder
3:48 Belinda Phillips
4:02 Rhiannon Palmer
4:05 Camille Melvey

Tomorrow another time trial will be done over 5km and 10km in skating technique.

News that probably parents of skiers on the team will be interested to hear is that the team is presently homeless from December 29 to January 3. We have been able to relocate chasing snow so far, but everyone is heading to the hills between Christmas and the New Year. There are some irons in the fire, and hopefully a roof over the head will be confirmed soon. Otherwise it's 13 people into Peter Moysey's one bedroom apartment in Angerberg, we're all a friendly bunch Pete!

December 15 - No Snow... Until Today

All the athletes in the team (except the NSW juniors travelling with Nick Almoukov) arrived in Munich yesterday. The intended location for most of December was Angerberg, east of Innsbruck. It seemed like a great place for training, tracks just out the door, a lit night loop, plenty of rolling tracks, access to a gym down in Worgl through Peter Moysey. Also a very good place for rollerskiing, and unfortunately rollerskiing was all it was good for, with no snow over most of middle Europe. The World Cup sprints in Clusone was moved to Brusson in Italy, and it's unclear what happened to the Kitzbuhel sprint. One of the few places in Austria with snow was Obertilliach, down near the Italian border, and Pistol Pete managed to book some apartments for the team there next to some British biathletes.

Paul Murray, Camille Melvey, Belinda Phillips, Katie Calder, Robert Curtis, Duane Butcher and Matt O'Rourke arrived in the morning, minus half of their baggage. This wasn't so bad as there was only just enough room to fit them all in the two Renault station-wagons anyway - the third team vehicle is to be picked up from the Australian Freestyle Team tomorrow. After dropping them off in Obertilliach, one vehicle returned to Munich to pick up Ben Derrick, James Rickard and Rhiannon Palmer on the evening flight, who were also missing half their gear. By the time some more gear had arrived with the next flight from London it was too late to drive back to Obertilliach, so the night was spent in Angerberg, courtesy unknowingly of Peter Moysey and his hidden appartment key. (That is unknowingly until he found Rhiannon's underwear in his bed when he returned the next night).

Lo and behold, the next morning it started to snow. Half way up to the Felbertaurn tunnel the Renault Megane decided it didn't have winter tires after all. Typically, 20 minutes later when the car was equipped with snow chains ready to be donned, the road-plough came through and the chains weren't required. Oh well, now we are prepared. The rest of the missing luggage finally arrived in the evening, much to Camille's approval.

The snow conditions now at Obertilliach are now very good, and the team will stay there until December 23rd. Then.... It will depend if more snow arrives, or if another apartment can be found in Obertilliach.

December 7 - Good-bye Sun

International Program 2000/2001
The advance party for the 2000/2001 Australian International Program departs for Europe today. Over the next week 10 skiers and three support stafff will arrive in Austria to begin 2-3 months on training and racing. Both senior and junior teams will be based for most of December and January in Angerberg, Austria, where accommodation has been organised for the team by New Zealander Peter Moysey. "Pistol Pete", well known by many Australian xc skiers, has been living in Austria for the last few years and is now trying his hand at Biathlon.

Click here for a summary of the program and race schedule.

Adjustment of racing schedule for Derrick
Ben Derrick, Australia's best cross country skiing hope for 2002 Winter Olympic qualification, was to have started racing last weekend in a FIS International race in Goms, Switzerland. However Ben did not feel ready to start racing in late November and will now arrive in Munich with the rest of the team on December 14th. The first major race for Ben (and Australian Sprint Champion Paul Murray) will now be the World Cup Sprint in Garmisch on December 27.

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 hoppet@netc.net.au.