Schonach, Germany, January 20-27
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Back to 2001/2002 Team Reports
Aussie WJC Reports
January 20 - Final Preparations
Australian team members are undergoing their final preparation for the 2002 World Junior Championships in Schonach, with the first competitions starting in two days. The competitions schedule and the team is below. We were very lucky with the team accommodation, being allocated Der Bergwaldhof, the closest hotel to the tracks. Our hosts are Andy and Susie, and you can checkout their establishment at www.bergwaldhof.com. A good description of the food here is sensational. The weather here is quite warm and the snow conditions are very wet. Rain is expected on the first race day. Everyone on the team is healthy, (although Mocky is always walking a fine tight-rope), and looking forward to the competitions.
Manager: Brian Keeble
Coaches: Finn Marsland, Nick Almoukov
Athletes: Rhiannon Palmer, Esther Bottomley, Ben Sim, Andrew Mock, Chris Darlington (Sally Cunningham non-starting)
Assistant Technician: Andrew Circosta
Women 15km Classic
Men 30km Classic
Women 5km Freestyle
Men 10km Freestyle
Women 1km Sprint
Men 1km Sprint
Women 4 by 5km Relay
No Australian Team
Men 4 by 10km Relay
No Australian Team
January 22 - Competition Day One - Women 15km and Men 30km
For the first time in the last four days there was a freeze overnight, which with plus temperatures during the day resulted in a combination of ice and slush on the track for the women's 15km and the men's 30km mass start events. This made the waxing a little difficult for the women's event, but not so bad for the men as the track softened up. Both events were a bit chaotic in the start, with a hair-pin bend after 80m. A number of skiers came down, and several poles were broken.Women 15km Classic Mass Start 1 44:00.0 Eugenia Kravtsova, RUS 2 44:04.2 Ellen Sandbakken, NOR 3 44:05.0 Mona-Liisa Malvalehto, FIN 14 46:06.7 Lindsey Weier, USA 26 47:20.2 Tara Hamilton, USA 41 49:37.9 Madeleine Williams, CAN 42 49:42.2 Colleen Mortimer, CAN 43 49:49.8 Kristina Trygstad-Saari, USA 44 50:11.5 Emily Hayman, CAN 45 50:23.1 Jordan Seethaler, USA 49 50:29.8 Shayla Swanson, CAN DNF Rhiannon Palmer, AUS 69 skiers in start 64 skiers in finish
Unfortunately it was not Rhiannon's day today. A bit anxious before the start because of the big occasion and the icy conditions, she had problems breathing right from the first hill. Forced to walk up the long hill at the end of the first lap, compounded with a big fall on the next downhill, Rhiannon pulled out after one 5km lap in a fairly distressed state. A pity as she seemed to be coming into good form this last week and skied the course technically well during testing yesterday. She was feeling better this evening and starting to become more positive about the 5km freestyle in two days time.
A small pack of about 8-9 skiers broke away after the first lap, including 3 French and 3 Finnish girls, and also Williams from Canada. Williams paid for her efforts however, dropping steadily back into the 40's on the second lap. Badillatti from Switzerland moved up to a smaller leading pack at the end of the second lap, before also dropping rapidly. On the last lap Kravtsova from Russia broke away with Sandbakken from Norway and Malvalehto from Finland, and then dropped these two as well and won in the end by 4 seconds. Sandbakken outsprinted Malvalehto for third.Men 30km Classic Mass Start 1 1:27:50.2 Aivar Rehemaa, EST 2 1:28:13.5 Maxim Bulgakov, RUS 3 1:29:21.1 Eivind-Juul Pedersen, NOR 40 1:35:28.3 Zachary Violett, USA 48 1:37:13.2 Andrew Newell, USA 49 1:37:31.2 Devon Kershaw, CAN 50 1:37:32.2 Jesse Karlstrom, USA 59 1:40:03.0 Ryan Foster, USA 60 1:40:03.8 Sean Crooks, CAN 61 1:40:30.0 Dave Nighbor, USA 64 1:43:01.7 Andrew Mock, AUS - 17.3% - 207.95 FIS Points 67 1:46:12.6 Chris Darlington, AUS - 20.9% - 244.17 FIS Points 82 skiers in start 69 skiers in finish
Both Aussies avoided the carnage in the first corner, and were not too far behind the main pack at the end of the first 5km lap. A big group up front cut down to about 12 skiers after the second lap, with Rehemaa from Estonia often leading the bunch. Four Norwegians were in this group. As the field stretched out behind Mocky and Darlo ended up in no-man's land between groups, which made it tough with strong winds at some sections of the course. On the third and fourth laps Mocky felt strong, and caught and passed about 4 skiers including a Japanese and a Dane. The fifth lap he held his own, but then started to tire on the last lap and was left by the Japanese skier. Mockie ended up in 64th place from 82 starters, very tired but reasonably happy with his performance. Darlo had a Romanian skiing partner for a couple of laps in the middle of the race, but then was left by himself with a big gap up the next skier when the Romanian pulled out. He dug deep, and on the last two laps caught and left skiers from Ukraine and Bulgaria, also pulling back time on Mocky. Darlo finished in 67th place, also tired but looking forward to the next event.
Up front Rehemma broke away with Bulgakov from Russia in tow. The Norwegian coaches didn't seem happy that none of their four skiers in the remaining pack could take up the chase, so they gave them a razz and one of them took off in pursuit. Unfortunately only one of the Kazakhastan skiers could go with him and little time was gained on the leading duo. Rehemma kept driving the pace and eventually dropped the Russian, and though both leaders looked close to the wall at the end of the last lap they took first and second place comfortably clear of Pedersen from Norway.
January 24 - Competition Day Two - Women 5km and Men 10km
Rain and wind overnight eased up in the morning to leave a wet and dirty track for the freestyle races today. Thin trenches were cut through the track to let water to drain away, but several puddles still managed to form. For a km or so through the trees over the high point of the course the snow was so thin and filthy it was like skiing on icy dirt. And we complain about snow conditions in Australia. Most countries put their faster skiers into the early start groups to take advantage of the tracks before they softened up too much. All the Australians went with Swix Cera F powder on their skis, with a Rex block rubbed on over the top, and all were pretty satisfied with their glide.Women 5km Freestyle 1 16:15.1 Elodie Bourgeois Pin, FRA 2 16:42.6 Cecile Storti, FRA 3 16:48.9 Irina Terentjeva, LTU 6 16:53.5 Kristina Trygstad-Saari, USA 30 17:28.7 Madeleine Williams, CAN 37 17:39.2 Colleen Mortimer, CAN 39 17:39.9 Jordan Seethaler, USA 58 18:26.2 Shayla Swanson, CAN 60 18:28.7 Paige Brady, USA 62 18:35.2 Emily Hayman, CAN 65 18:57.0 Kikkan Randall, USA 66 19:02.8 Rhiannon Palmer, AUS - 17.2% - 138.18 FIS Points 71 19:49.1 Esther Bottomley, AUS - 21.9% - 166.67 FIS Points 76 skiers in start 76 skiers in finish
Rhiannon put Tuesday's race behind her and notched a very respectable result today in the 5km freestyle. Starting at a steady pace, she was caught at 2.5km by Randall of the USA from one place behind, but then passed her back and very nearly reclaimed the entire 30 seconds. Rhiannon's result of 17.2% behind the winner is certainly the best Australian female result at World Junior Championships in recent years - can an Australian ski statistician somewhere find out the best results of all time? Such a shame that Rhiannon had difficulties in the classic race, normally her preferred technique. Esther also put a reasonable result on the board at 21.9%, though she seemed to ski within herself and will have another couple of gears to use in the sprint on Saturday.
The French girls took it up another notch after their promising start in the 15km classic and claimed the top two podium spots. Bourgeois Pin absolutely caned, finishing 27.5 seconds clear from the rest of the field. But the most excited and even surprised team was the Lithuanians, who scored their first ever WJC medal with a broinze to Terentjeva. Starting number 5 and finishing early, it seemed that Terentjeva didn't even realise what a great result she had, after finishing she quietly picked up her clothes and went to warm down, and had to be tracked down for the flower ceremony.Men 10km Freestyle 1 29:34.1 Kristian Hornvendt, NOR 2 29:37.8 Johan Hook, SWE 3 30:07.6 Alexei Troussev, RUS 23 31:37.0 Leif_Orin Zimmermann, USA 53 32:44.5 Zacchary Violet, USA 58 32:59.4 Jesse Carlstom, USA 61 33:07.2 Sean Crooks, CAN 63 33:12.5 Andrew Mock, AUS - 12.3% - 108.86 FIS Points 64 33:26.1 David Nighbor, CAN 68 33:39.4 Jonathon Blais, CAN 71 33:43.1 Ben Sim, AUS - 14.0% - 119.21 FIS Points 74 33:54.1 Devon Kershaw, CAN 77 34:00.9 Bryan Cook, USA 83 35:00.3 Chris Darlington - 18.4% - 145.32 FIS Points 89 skiers in start 89 skiers in finish
Sixteen year old Ben Sim came out smoking in this men's 10km race, and after the entire field went past the 2.2km mark he was in equal 36th place only 25 seconds behind the leader. Unfortunately the fairy tale stopped there (this time), and Ben worked his way back through the field. Though visibly disappointed in the result, Ben should take some consolation from such a promising start, and with 3 more years left as a junior there will definitely be greater results to come. Mocky started conservatively with his legs still remembering the 30km, and at the 2.2km mark was in 74th place 48 seconds off the pace. From there he started to improve, and worked his way up to 63rd place and a 12.3% result. Pretty sure this is the best Australian result in a distance event at the World Junior Championships in the past 10 years, possibly since triple winter-olympian Anthony Evans skied about 10% in 1989. Darlo was also feeling the 30km and was a minute down at 2.2km, but skied a solid race from then on, losing only another 17 seconds on Ben. Darlo's moment of glory was captured on video, when he overtook one of the leading Russians on their second lap.
Russian skiers lead a very tight field at the early splits, but then Hornvendt from Norway and Hook from Sweden established a clear lead going into the second lap. At about the 7.2km mark the two were dead level, and it was reported that Hook took the lead at about 8km. Despite frantic cheers from the Swedish coaches and team, Hook couldn't hold on and Hornvendt won by 3.7 seconds to make it back to back 10km titles (he won the 10km classic in Poland last year).
January 26 - Competition Day Three - Women and Men Sprint
The last day of competition for the Australian team (not enough skiers for the relay on Sunday). With snow disappearing rapidly, the sprint course was closed prior to the race to keep it in the best possible condition. During the finals the track became mushier and mushier, resulting in several fall and more close calls.Women 1km Sprint Freestyle - Qualifying Time Trial 1 2:34.4 Mona-Liisa Malvalehto, FIN 2 2:34.4 Nicole Fessel, GER 3 2:35.8 Riikka Sarasoja, FIN 15 2:42.4 Chandra Crawford, CAN 19 2:44.1 Kikkan Randall, USA 23 2:45.0 Colleen Mortimer, CAN 33 2:47.7 Lindsey Weier, USA 43 2:51.1 Lindsay Williams, USA 49 2:52.7 Kristina Trygstad-Saari, USA 51 2:53.6 Madeleine Williams, CAN 62 2:59.0 Shayla Swanson, CAN 64 3:01.5 Esther Bottomley, AUS - 17.5% - 175.30 FIS Points 67 3:06.9 Rhiannon Palmer, AUS - 21.0% - 203.12 FIS Points 72 skiers in start 72 skiers in finish Final 1 Mona-Liisa Malvalehto, FIN 2 Nicole Fessel, GER 3 Kjersti Nordberg, NOR 4 Irina Efanova, RUS
Australian Sprint Champion Esther Bottomley had a good early start with number 20, and looked set to post. With a time split about level with Trygstad-Saari from the USA as she came into the finish straight, Esther caught her pole on her ski and hit the deck hard. By the time she was back on her feet and regained momentum, she had lost about 8 seconds. Now a very disappointed young lady. Rhiannon skied a strong race from a later starting position, but lacks the fast-twitch fibers to do really well in a sprint.
In the quarter finals all the top ranked skiers made it through, except for Vina from France who fell at the end of the starting straight. There weren't too many close finishes until the final, where Malvalehto and Fessel duelled it out down the finishing straight. Crawford from Canada put in great performance to finish in 12th place.Men 1km Sprint Freestyle - Qualifying Time Trial 1 2:17.33 Johannes Bredl, GER 2 2:19.81 Andrew Newell, USA 3 2:20.09 Fredrik Bystrom, SWE 16 2:28.03 Leif-Orin Zimmermann, USA 18 2:28.31 Sean Crooks, CAN 21 2:29.75 Ryan Foster, USA 25 2:30.92 Devon Kershaw, CAN 43 2:34.33 Jonathon Blais, CAN 50 2:35.72 Ben Sim, AUS - 13.4% - 142.13 FIS Points 59 2:38.48 Connal Robertson-More, CAN 71 2:43.08 Andrew Mock, AUS - 18.8% - 185.00 FIS Points 73 2:44.19 Ben Ruffato, USA 75 2:45.44 Chris Darlington - 20.5% - 198.75 FIS Points 79 skiers in start 79 skiers in finish Final 1 Johannes Bredl, GER 2 Ulrich Eger, AUT 3 Fredrik Bystrom, SWE 4 Ivan Alypov, RUS
Ben Sim was keen to make up for his disappointment in the 10km, and recorded an impressive result in the sprint qualifying. Not normally a sprint specialist, Ben qualified in 50th place out of the field of 79, knocking off many skiers from the traditionally stronger countries, including the entire Swiss team. Mocky was a bit more subdued and looked like he needed a few more kilometres to get going, ditto for Darlo.
In the finals there were several falls in the slush, and the most impressive performance was from Alypov from Russia who fell twice then managed to get back up to squeeze through to the semi-final in a photo-finish. 6th ranked Brodar from Slovenia was looking good to qualify before he tripped himself up, and 7th ranked Scola from Italy similarly took himself out in the starting straight. 2nd ranked Newell from the USA made it through to the semis, but then his bickies were spent and he ended up in 8th place. All four skiers were up there for a while in the final, but Bredl had them covered and pulled away easily in the straight to win his second WJC sprint.
January 27- Competition Day Four and Close
The Australian team wasn't entered in the relay as we only had two girls and three boys qualified to ski here. This was no great loss as the relays were cancelled this morning due to extreme weather conditions. Rain and wind did their best to destroy the track overnight, but the track conditions were only secondary as the rain and gale winds continued into the morning.
The Australian Team experience in Schonach contained both highs and lows, however on the whole it was very positive for the future of Australian cross country skiing. Overall the best results were acheived since the late eighties when our last crop of Winter Olympians competed at the junior level. While there is still a way to go before we can start to consider medal prospects, we are starting to knock off skiers from the stronger nations and are on the way up!
A very many thanks to team manager Brian Keeble and coach Nick Almoukov for their time and efforts during the championships and throughout the season. Thanks also to Sally Cunningham, Jake Roarty, and Ewen Watson for helping with drinks in the 30km. To quote Darlo, "Cheers & Beers" to our hosts at Bergwaldhof. And special thanks to Andrew Circosta, who did a fantastic job assisting with ski testing and waxing throughout the week.
Here's to Solleftea 2003 in Sweden!
National Team Coach
Images from the 2002 World Junior Championships
(Okay image quality is not fantastic but there's not so much time to play around)
The Australian Team with their hosts at Bergwaldhof
Malvalehto leads Fessel and Nordberg in sprint final
Ben Sim putting it all in down the finish straight
Team Manager Brian Keeble sports new Yoko gear
Chris Darlington heads out for his second lap in 10km freestyle
Ben Sim flying out of the start in 10km freestyle
Rhiannon Palmer follows Kikkan Randall from the USA in 5km freestyle
Esther Fan Club Pic 1
Esther Fan Club Pic 2
Start of Women's 15km Mass Start (Rhiannon Palmer in yellow at left)
Mocky Fan Club Pic 1
Mocky Fan Club Pic 2
Andrew Mock leading Danish skier and Chris Darlington early in the 30km
Hofer (33) from Italy and Jelenc (43) from Slovenia enjoy the start of the the men's 30km
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