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Australian Team Reports 2002/2003

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(Hit "Refresh" for Latest Update)
Dec 4 - First Australians in Europe
Dec 6 - Duane's Email Report #1
Dec 8 - More Sprint Race & Duane #2
Dec 11 - World Cup Team Report
Dec 16 - Not The Start We Hoped For
Dec 20 - On The Way Up
Dec 22 - In Brief From Czech
Dec 25 - Back To (The) School
Dec 30 - Aussies In The Finals
Jan 4 - A Couple of Cold Days
Jan 6 - Not Quite Warmed Up
Jan 14 - Some Success
Jan 20 - A Promising Weekend
Jan 27 - Murray Wins 1st Race in Sweden
Jan 29 - Sim Qualifies for World Championships
World Junior Championship Special
Feb 4 - Sim 25th in World Juniors
Feb 5 - Meanwhile on the Other Side of Town...
Feb 13 - Delayed Report From Sweden
Feb 14 - U23's In Brief
Feb 17 - Australian Team For 2003 World Championships
World Championship Special
Feb 18 - Belated Uni Games Updates
Mar 22 - End of the Season

Ben Sim in Action in Tauplitz
More images at the bottom of the page)

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2002/2003 Teams
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2002 National Rankings

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Paul Murray
KT Calder
Andrew Circosta
Duane Butcher
Daniel van der Ploeg
Andrew Mock
Tim Retchford

Australian Team Reports 2002/2003

March 22 - End of the Season

The final Sprint World Cup of the season was held on Thursday March 20 in Borlange Sweden, and was also the last event of the season for the Australian team. Duane Butcher was granted a special entry by FIS and made his World Cup debut, joining Paul Murray for this final event. The freestyle sprint was held on a trotting track just out of town, a 1.2km loop with 4 small hills built up with artificial snow. The qualifications were held late afternoon, with the finals under lights before a crowd of 10,000 people.

On this relatively short flattish track it was hoped that the boys could pull out some personal best FIS points, but the qualification proved that a fast course against the top guys doesn't necessarily mean great points. As Paul and Duane will testify it can be hard to get the power down when the snow is so hard and fast, and you have to work every metre of the course. Paul was only 9.6 seconds behind the fastest qualifier Thobias Fredriksson from Sweden, but with the fastest time being just over 2 minutes this meant FIS points of 76.84 - not bad but not quite what we were hoping for. Duane was 18.1 seconds off the pace with points of 144.73, not very satisfied with his race and indeed his form for most of the season. More details from the race in the Summer News section.

So that's it for the Australian Team for the 2002/2003 season. Duane has returned to Norway to take some time off and recharge the mind and body, and Paul is heading soon to England to attempt to earn some fast bucks relief teaching before returning to Australia. The next month or so is the time to sit back and review all the competitions and training, and refine the program for next year. Hopefully these reports (though sometimes a little late) have been interesting for folks back home in Australia, for more info keep a look out for the next edition of Australian XC News

February 18 - Belated Uni Games Updates

While the 2003 Winter Universiade in Tarvisio Italy finished a good 3-4 weeks ago several reports from the event have only just come to hand. Take your choice from Andrew Mock's Uni Games Bumper Special, and Tim Retchford's Lessons in International Diplomacy. Please note, some readers may be offended by the content, and in Mocky's case this is indeed the intention. There may also be some discrepancies between the two reports, but really this should not be surprising.

February 17 - Australian Team For 2003 World Championships

The 2003 World Championships start tomorrow in Val di Fiemme in Italy, and the final Australian Team has been selected. It is a very young team, with several up and coming skiers been given the chance to compete for experience. Andrew Mock and Duane Butcher were last minute additions to the skiers already qualified - Paul Murray, Ben Sim, Katherine Calder and Esther Bottomley. Paul Murray is the oldest of the team at 25 years old, and for various reasons likely the only one who will compete in more than one event.

More details of the championships and of the Australian Team can be found in the 2003 World Championships Special, from today.

U23 Wrap-Up
The U23 Championship in Valdidentro concluded on Sunday February 16 with the final Duathlon events. Two Australians competed, Duane Butcher and Matt O'Rourke in the 7.5km/7.5km event. Matt was not healthy and probably shouldn't have even started, however he went ahead mainly because it was his last competition for the season. He had trouble breathing during the race, and in the end withdrew on the skating leg after being overtaken on the 2.5km loop by the race leaders. Duane skied a stronger race (for a sprint specialist), but he too was caught by some of the leading skiers towards the end of the race. Russian skiers cleaned up in both men and women's events. In general the competitions were of pretty high standard, though numbers were down on the OPA U23 event from last year. Discussions were held in the captains meetings regarding the future of the event, and a possible merger in 2005 with the World Junior Championships.

February 14 - U23's In Brief

The 2003 U23 OPA and Intercontinental Championships started yesterday in Valdidento near Bormio in Italy. The Australian Team consists of athletes KT Calder, Duane Butcher, Matt O'Rourke, Andrew Mock, Andrew Circosta, Nick Grimmer, a last minute Esther Bottomley, and coach Finn Marsland and manager Brian Keeble. Unfortunately the team was hit by illness before the championships, and KT and Mockie were in no shape to start the opening mass start events. With Duane, Nick and Esther all focussing on the sprint, and Circa declaring himself in no form to race, Matt O'Rourke was the only starter in the 30km classic. However Matt's mind and body proved quickly to be not ready for a tough 30km, and he withdrew after 10km. So not such a positive start for the team at the U23's. Kris Freeman from the USA showed very impressive form to win the 30km comfortably after a long breakaway, and Sereina Mischol from Switzerland was too fast at the end of the 15km.

To the 1.2km freestyle sprint today and a full team of Australians in the start (4 guys and both girls), however results were not as good as hoped for. Nick Grimmer was fastest of the guys in 40th place, though just outside 10% behind the fastest qualifier meant that the 100 FIS point barrier was out of reach. Duane started OK and was close to Nick at about half-way, but his legs went way lactic on the hill and he lost time rapidly in the second half of the race. Mocky started conservatively, about 4 seconds down on Duane at half-way, but finished strong to pip Duane by bugger-all. Matt skied well early on considering the average race he had the day before, but lost time at the end. For the girls Esther was showing the effects of a long day's travel on Wednesday and was well off her form from the junior championships last week finishing 26th and 14 seconds behind the fastest, and Katie was another couple of seconds and one place back very apparently not healthy. A bright note for Canadians, Tara Whitten skied very well through the finals to claim second place behind Kelder from Italy. Pretty sure it was a Norwegian who won the men's final.

With only the Duathlon remaining on Sunday and only a couple of the tskiers considering starting it doesn't look like this U23 event will be a memorable one for the Australian Team. All the skiers here have shown before that they can ski a lot faster, and we all hope that they can find that form (and health for some) again soon.

February 13 - Delayed Report From Sweden

This past weekend saw most of Swedens top skiers(bar the three that are at altitude in Italy) gather in Östersund for a System air cup, in both 10km classic on saturday and a classic sprint on Sunday. Three Australians present, Rob Curtis, Leon Spiller and Paul Murray.

The 10km on sat was on a very tough 5km loop and with temperatures having changed from -16 the night before to around zero the glazing tracks made for difficult waxing. Grip was certainly essential and after a good team effort, with Spills as the non competitor for the day, the boys went on PM's home made Gelb and Blue extra mix. Paul was 4th out of the start and at 3km had the lead by a narrow 3 seconds. By the time the guns had come past he was 20 secs down on Mattias Fredriksson. This soon ballooned out and Paul payed for it on the second lap as the eventual winner , Anders Södergren came by at 8km at a blistering pace.

Rob was feeling good and with plenty of hills had a good first lap to be a bit over a minute behind Paul after 5km, but he lost most of his wax somewhere on the long downhill and had to herring bone most of the last lap uphills which was really frustrating for him.This was Robs last chance to go under the magic 100, but unfortunatly not enough binder cost him dearly.

As for the guys up front, Anders Södergren came home in 24.59 to win by 9 seconds ahead of current world number 1 Mattias Fredriksson. Third went to Johan Olson. Paul Murray in 28th, 2.34mins back and recording his best ever distance race a smidge over 10% behind. Rob in 34th was another 2.30 back.

After a few waters at a party on saturday night Paul and Leon geared up for the sprint early Sunday morning. With Qualifying at 9am, there wasn't alot of time to get things sorted.Rob had elected not to race and was the teams GO-FA. Easy waxing, a fast course with 3 tough uphills and a fast downhill corner into the finish straight all within sight for spectators.

Again all the guns present except Fredrick Östberg. With Björn Lind and Anders Hörgberg vying for the last worlds sprint spot and Mikael Östberg and Tobias Fredrickson eager to consolidate their selection,qualification times were gaurenteed to be fast. Fastest QF time went to Andreas Domej (younger swede not in the sprint team)Lind 2nd, Östberg 4th, Fredriksson 8th (4 secs back)

As Paul stepped into the start gate, his pole broke. On 3-2-1 snap!!!!!!!! Not much you can do except step off the track, try not to abuse anyone and smile. Luckily the race TD gave him a restart where a no show starter should be. So after searching frantically for a pole, a kid on the side of track lent him one. Not ideal but it wasn't in two pieces.

After a reshuffle of the results due to a later start. (the comentators said, "there must be something wrong here, as he is 4 mins behind the fastest" Paul qualified 12th, 7 secs off the pace, and 4% behind. Spills said he felt flat and lacked speed while finding the last uphill tough. It too was his last shot at 100pts but unfortunatly he fell short, finishing 17 secs off the pace.

The quarter finals were fast with a steep uphill 50 meters from the start. Pauls luck continued in the heat being tripped at the top of the first hill and watching the group of three dissapear down the hill while laying on his stomach. No chance of getting back on. A missed chance at making the semi and a very unhappy man at the finish.

PM's Special Comments: "No Turks here Darlo, just bloody fast Swedes. It is a different ball game racing against the the big boys in the finals. They are the best in the world here and the speed at which they move is unbelieveable. I need bigger legs!"

The final saw Mikael Östberg , Björn Lind, Tobias Fredriksson and classic sprint specialist Mathias Danielson hit it out. Östberg led from the start and had much more pace than the others throughout the whole course. With 200m to go he had 20 meters on the rest, but in the finish straight Tobius chose the faster track and mowed him down to win by a ski length. Lind in 3rd.

The girls was a run away victory to Emilie Erstig, who never looked like being challenged in qualifying or the finals.

Thus concludes the pre worlds preparation races for Paul. Rob has already left for France for the Transjurassienne, and will join the support crew at the worlds next week, while Leon heads home to Mt Beauty and work.

February 5 - Meanwhile on the Other Side of Town...

While the junior team was preparing for world juniors a few hours north, the only Australian seniors in Sweden were racing in the Evertsberg 42 km mass start classic race on Sunday February 2. -2 temperatures and fresh falling snow on a hilly 42km loop made for a tough race. The track was often snowed over and downhills seemed rare.

Paul Murray, Leon Spiller, and Rob Curtis all started in the full distance. With all of the gun Swedish loppet skiers in Europe for the FIS marathon cup it was an ideal opportunity to race up front. A fast uphill start followed by a short downhill then another long gradual uphill, saw the lead pack soon dwindle from 20 to 10 and by the first drink station at 4 km, 6 were all that remained. 2 km down the track 4 were left after the leader, Christian Olsson from Ulricerhamn put the foot down during the first major uphill.

20km's in Paul got dropped from the lead pack but regained contact after the halfway sprint. The lead pack of 4 stayed that until 500m to go where it spilt with the final placings being finalised 100m before the finish. Ealier in the week , national coach Finn Marsland had said to him, "go with the leaders but don't do anywork" good advice but not so good for improving Swedish and Australian racing relations. Just as well he didn't snatch the victory. and crossed the line 4th.

Special thanks to Reiner from IFK Mora, who managed to be in the hard to get places on the track with drinks for Paul.

Leon Spiller skied with a train that included fellow Australian Rob Curtis, and with 10km to go he and another went off the front of their group. Rob cramped with 10km to go and cruised to the finish. Spills outsprinting his runaway partner for 16th place.

Next race for the boys is a FIS 10km classic in Östersund , followed by a sprint the next day. Most of the Swedish team will be there as preparation for world champs, so it will be a good last minute chance for Rob and Leon to go under 100pts.

February 4 - Sim 25th at World Juniors

Today Ben Sim achieved the best ever result of an Australian at the World Junior Championships for cross country skiing. Ben finished 25th in the 30km freestyle mass start, just over 7% behind the winner Chris Jespersen from Norway. Light snow fell throughout most of the race, which was held in about -8 to -10 degrees on a 7.5km loop. Ben was in 16th place after three laps, but faded in the last 3km. Daniel van der Ploeg finished 53rd in the same race out of a starting field of 71, after a bad start which saw him skiing most of the first half of the race by himself between packs without help in the wind and the new snow. More details available in the World Junior Championship Special.

A Warped Perspective Edition Two
It's already slightly outdated however here is the first installment of this season's travel/skiing/life report from Andrew Mock - An Increasingly Warped Perspective. For other athlete reports look to the links at the top right of this page.

January 29 - Sim Qualifies for the World Championships

On Sunday January 26 17-year old Ben Sim became the second Australian to fully qualify for the 2003 World Championships. Ben scored 66.57 FIS points at the Swiss Cup 10km freestyle in Marbach Switzerland, a personal best and only the second Australian to score distance FIS points under 75 (qualifies for free accommodation at World Champs) since 1998. The World Championships take place in Italy from February 28 - March 1, however the next competition for Ben will be the World Junior Championships which start next week.

Ben finished 7th in the race, but only 2 seconds behind 4th place. His result could have been even better: Due to some miscommunication Ben (and others in the race including the winner Aschwanden) thought that the race was 15km, and was ready to ski another lap when the others in his pack started sprinting for the finish. The day before Ben produced a solid 110 points in the 10km classic. Ben's coach Nick Almoukov and some younger members of the NSW team also competed. Amy and Ewan Watson were easily the youngest skiers (both 15) in the FIS race on Saturday, and on Sunday they skied in their age class competitions instead (not FIS races, and no results available just now).

Ben and Nick joined the rest of the junior team in Sweden two days ago, however unfortunately Nick received word yesterday that his father in Russia passed away, and he flew out from Stockholm this morning. Nick will rejoin the team in the middle of the World Junior Championships.

Swiss-Com Cup January 25-26, Marbach Switzerland

Men 10km Freestyle Mass Start, Jan 26
1   SUI  23:36.5  Wilhelm Aschwanden
2   SUI  23:39.5  Tino Mettler
3   SUI  23:40.4  Remo Fischer
7   AUS  24:02.9  Ben Sim - 66.57 FIS points
23  AUS  27:21.0  Nick Almoukov - 206.42 FIS points
Men 10km Classic, Jan 25
1   SUI  25:29.0  Christian Stebler
2   SUI  25:40.8  Wilhelm Aschwanden
3   SUI  26:10.5  Tino Mettler
19  AUS  28:27.4  Ben Sim - 110.34 FIS points
48  AUS  30:40.8  Nick Almoukov - 162.68 FIS points
49  AUS  35:12.8  Ewan Watson - 269.42 FIS points
Women 5km Classic, Jan 25
1   SUI  14:25.9  Seraina Mischol
2   SUI  14:38.0  Cornelia Porrini
3   SUI  15:16.6  Doris Trechsel
19  AUS  19:21.9  Amy Watson - 264.35 FIS points

January 27 - Murray Wins 1st Race in Sweden

On Sunday January 26 Paul Murray won the Bergeboloppet 10km classic on his home tracks in Borlange in Sweden. Though most of the top Swedes were away at Idre for the Swedish Championships, it was still a confidence booster 3 weeks out from the 2003 World Championships in Italy. Paul held a slender lead of 2 seconds after the first 5km loop on the World Cup tracks, and finished strongly to extend his lead to 18 seconds at the finish. Leon Spiller and Rob Curtis finished 5th and 7th in the senior field.

In the Junior 10km only 3 seconds separated Nick Grimmer and Dan VDP with 500 to go, before Nick pulled out a lightning finish to extend the gap by another 10 seconds. Now we just have to get Nick to ski like that for a full 10km. Dan was feeling a little flat, and was a little light on in the waxing stakes. Sally Cunningham skied a pretty decent race in the U18 5km, while Esther decided not to race after a relapse during the week of last weekend's illness.

In Mora it was a tourist week for the Junior Team as they started to taper for the World Junior Championships. Afternoons off featured trips to Frosts knife factory, Mora Armatur tap factory, and one of the "Dala-Horse" workshops, all organised by the long-standing Australian ambassador in Mora Nils Storm. Home handiwork with a carving knife has now produced a "Dala-Unicorn". Ice skating on the Siljan lake also filled up a morning (see pics down the bottom). Paul Murray and Leon Spiller also trained in Mora for the week for a change of scenery from Borlange.

Bergeboloppet, January 26, Borlange Sweden

Men 10km Classic
1   AUS  27:46  Paul Murray
2   SWE  28:04  Emil Gregorica
3   SWE  28:29  Toni Kinnunen
5   AUS  30:26  Leon Spiller
7   AUS  31:07  Robert Curtis
Junior Men 10km Classic
1   SWE  29:23  Patrik Eklind
4   AUS  30:53  Nick Grimmer
5   AUS  31:06  Daniel Van der Ploeg
Junior Women U18 5km Classic
1   USA  17:12  Mandy Brassfield
10  AUS  18:34  Sally Cunningham

The crew in Mora will be joined today by Ben Sim and coach Nick Almoukov, who are flying up from middle Europe. Team Manager Brian Keeble arrived last Friday, so now the entire Junior Team will be in Mora ready to head up to Solleftea on Friday. No more news yet from the Winter Universiade Team, who finished their last race in Tarvisio yesterday.

January 20 - A Promising Weekend

Swedish Report
Some promising results from the Australian Junior Team with two weeks to go before the World Junior Championships in Solleftea. On Saturday January 18 Daniel van der Ploeg won the Jarloppet U20 10km freestyle race in Rattvik ahead of some good competition, and the next day Nick Grimmer won the 21km classic section of the Maserloppet in Gronklitt. Sally Cunningham also put in solid performances on both days in the U18 class, while Esther Bottomley skipped both races sue to a sore throat (which has now gone).

The Jarloppet was the first distance freestyle race for most of the junior team members, and held in wet "Australian-like" conditions. Sally was off first out of the Australians, in the 7.5km freestyle event, and skied well on a the tough hilly course to finish in 7th place (1 second from 6th). Comparing times to the U20 class Sally was about 5 min behind the best Swedish juniors in the country, Maria Rydqvist and Julia Limby, which is a big improvement over the last few weeks. In the boys 10km Daniel was in 6th place after 1km, 1 second behind Nick Grimmer, but by the 6.5km mark had taken a 7 second lead over Martin Johansson, one of the best skiers from the Mora Skid-Gymnasium. At the finish the gap was 11 seconds, and Dan won his first race in Europe. The third skier in the race, Markus Leijon from Mora, is in the Swedish team for Solleftea. Nick finished 6th, 1:43 behind Dan, getting some sprint practice at the end of his race and outlunging a skier who caught him from a minute behind. Nick was confused with his split at the 1km mark - "4 seconds behind the leader" was interpreted as "4 seconds behind Maria", one of the girls from the Folkhogskola. Nick had been worried about the battle with Maria before the race but he will have to save up that contest for another day as Maria pulled out sick. Rob Curtis finished 13th in the senior men's 10km.

At the Maserloppet the main race was 42km, which was won in a sprint finish by Matthias Danielsson ahead of 2001 Vasaloppet winner Henrik Eriksson. A pack of six broke away from the rest of the field early on, and Paul Murray skied an impressive race to finish 8th, often leading the chasing group and only being beaten at the the end by sprint and rollerski specialist Daniel Sjodin. Leon Spiller finished 25th and Robert Curtis 31st. The 21km event was mixed in with the 42km, and Nick Grimmer worked hard early on to get into about the 3rd main group. Daniel VDP was in a pack with Leon and Rob, and for a while set off alone trying to catch Nick's pack before falling back to his old pack. Both Nick and Dan were very disappointed when they came into the finish and all the other skiers in their packs continued with another lap for the 42km. For Sally the 21km was supposed to be only for training, but she had fun mixing it in packs of guys twice her size, and with a few km to go set out to catch another junior girl only to miss out by 13 seconds on winning her age class and a kettle. She had to settle for two CD cases instead.

Almost forgot, there was a night sprint in Borlange on Wednesday with one person skiing classic and one skate, it was a lot of fun and a close race in the men between the young guns Dan and Nick against Paul and Leon. Look soon for Dan VDP's special Night Sprint Exclusive...

Jarloppet, January 18, Rattvik Sweden

Men 10km Freestyle
1   SWE  25:23  Niklas Karlsson
2   SWE  25:27  Magnus Eriksson
3   SWE  25:37  Peo Svahn
13  AUS  28:09  Robert Curtis
Junior Men 10km Freestyle
1   AUS  26:52  Daniel Van der Ploeg
2   SWE  27:03  Martin Johansson
3   SWE  27:16  Markus Leijon
6   AUS  28:35  Nick Grimmer
Junior Women 7.5km Freestyle
1   SWE  22:50  Maria Rydkvist
Junior Women U18 7.5km Freestyle
1   SWE  24:48  Maria Grafnings
2   SWE  25:29  Karin Ekholm
3   SWE  25:31  Anna Hansson
7   AUS  27:51  Sally Cunningham

Maserloppet, January 19, Gronklitt Sweden

Men 42km Classic
1   SWE  1:39:25  Mathias Danielsson
2   SWE  1:39:26  Henrik Eriksson
3   SWE  1:39:26  Mattias Svahn
8   AUS  1:42:12  Paul Murray
25  AUS  1:50:51  Leon Spiller
31  AUS  1:51:20  Robert Curtis
Junior Men 21km Classic
1   AUS  53:20  Nick Grimmer
2   AUS  53:56  Daniel Van der Ploeg
Junior Women 21km Classic
1   SWE  1:08:21  Sara Elfborg
2   AUS  1:08:34  Sally Cunningham

World University Games, Tarvisio Italy
Only a brief report once again from down in middle Europe. The opening cross country skiing races of the World University Games in Tarvisio Italy took place on Saturday January 18th. In the men's 10km classic Andrew Mock was the best Australian in 60th place out of field of 85 with solid FIS points of 123. Tim Retchford finished 74th and Andrew Circosta 76th. The fastest finisher amongst the men Chetbotko from Kazakstan was disqualifed for skating. In the women's 5km classic KT Calder was 46th out of a field of 67, with FIS points of 133. Reportedly KT had poor grip, the other Australians had good skis. While these results are likely less than hoped for by the Australian skiers, they are not too far out of the ball park and Andrew Mock and KT in particular should have a good chance to approach the 100 FIS point World Championship qualification standard in the skating races late this week.

For detailed results and the latest news, go the 2003 Winter Universiade website.

January 14 - Some Success

Not quite World Cup performances yet but across Europe several Australians have had some moderate success in various competitions in recent days. Vague enough? Read on...

Sprint Victory in Norway
Form is starting to pick up for Duane Butcher in Norway. Last weekend Duane competed in three freestyle sprints around Oslo: 1500m in the Maxbo-Sprint at Gullhaugen on Saturday January 11, and 100m and 1000m at the Holmenkollen Sprint Cup on Sunday. In the Maxbo-Sprint time trial Duane scorched the field by 4 seconds, and in the final skied away from the field with the help of rocket skis to secure his first sprint victory in Europe! The next day Duane backed up at Hollmenkollen with a 4th place in the 100m time trial and a come-from-behind win in the 1000m B-Final. For a blow by blow description go to Duane's Email Report, now upgraded to his own page with his other two email reports added on at the bottom.

Andrew Mock New Dutch Champion
Only a brief report from Ramsau on the Dutch Championships today: Andrew Mock won the men's 10km freestyle mass start event today ahead of fellow Australians Ben Sim and Andrew Circosta. Matt O'Rourke finished 6th and Nick Almoukov 7th. Apparently the front skiers were in a pack all the way. KT Calder took second place in the women's event. According to Andrew Circosta snow conditions were "Australian", with overnight snow before the race.

Another Classic Race In Sweden
The Swedish contingent of Australians travelled not very far on Sunday January 12 for a club race at Sagmyra, very close to Falun. Quite a fun 5km loop was used for all the longer distances, a narrow undulating track twisting through pine trees. With a hard week of training leading into the race none of the Australians showed scintillating form. Esther Bottomley produced the best result with a 2nd place in the U20 10km classic (dual start), skiing away from the third placed skier in the closing kilometre. Paul Murray started strong, matching his co-starter in the 15km classic for the first 3km before fading to 4th place. Tim Retchford was 6th, 2:38 behind Paul, with Leon Spiller another 7 seconds back in 7th place (dropping behind Tim only on the last lap). Sally Cunningham finished 7th in the U18 5km classic just over 2 minutes behind the winner, and Daniel van der Ploeg and Nick Grimmer were 6th and 7th in the U20 10km event. Rob Curtis skipped the race due to problems with tight hamstrings that will hopefully be better soon. Good media coverage, with a nice big colour pic of the team in the Falun papers on Monday.

The skiers in Sweden get their turn for a sprint tomorrow night with a sprint relay in Borlange, 1 leg classic and 1 leg skate. Down in middle Europe there may or may not be another Dutch championship event (send more news in folks...) but at any rate very soon the University skiers (KT, Mocky, Circa, and Tim, with wax tech Matt) head down to Italy for the 2003 Winter Universiade in Tarvisio. First races there are the 5 and 10km classic event on Saturday January 18.

January 6 - Not Quite Warmed Up

After a day's delay the first day of Asarna races (see Jan 4) went ahead right on the temperature limits. It was about minus 16-17 for the junior races, but became colder again during the senior men's competition back towards minus 20. Unfortunately the forecast for today was for very cold (and it was -28 this morning) and the junior sprints were cancelled yesterday. The distance classic races were pretty harsh on the Australian contingent. The course was quite hard and the cold took it's toll. Rob Curtis had blurred vision during the race, and Tim Retchford and Leon Spiller had problems standing up at the finish. Luckily all the guys had protection in the right places and no-one suffered the "unmentionable" pain.

The winners in the 10km and 15km FIS events were Tobias Fredriksson and Elin Ek, and the race penalties were quite reasonable - about 33 for the men and 40 for the women. However the points for the Australians were not so good. Paul Murray had the best with something around 125-130 points, but all the rest were over 150. In the junior classes the Australians were a bit off the pace, however it was pretty tough conditions for the first up distance race for most of them and there is no question that their results will improve after a few more races - hopefully in warmer conditions.

Asarnaspelen, January 4, Asarna Sweden

Women 10km Classic
1   SWE  32:20.5  Elin Ek
2   SWE  33:06.6  Mariana Handler
3   SWE  33:22.8  Emelie Ohrstig
Men 15km Classic
1   SWE  43:23.0  Tobias Fredriksson
2   SWE  43:41.1  Johan Olsson
3   SWE  43:52.9  Mats Larsson
31  AUS  50:06.3  Paul Murray
34  AUS  54:04.6  Tim Retchford
36  AUS  55:11.5  Robert Curtis
38  AUS  56:09.0  Leon Spiller
Junior Men 10km Classic
1   SWE  29:29.7  Andreas Svanebo
2   SWE  30:01.1  Andreas Hamlund
3   SWE  30:15.9  Anders Svanebo
45  AUS  34:34.1  Daniel Van der Ploeg
48  AUS  35:34.0  Nick Grimmer
Junior Women 5km Classic
1   SWE  17:27.6  Julia Limby
2   SWE  17:28.2  Maria Rydkvist
3   SWE  17:41.9  Helena Kallander
29  AUS  21:40.5 Esther Bottomley
Even Younger Junior Women 5km Classic (under 18)
1   SWE  18:38.4  Emma Lundback
32  AUS  23:02.4  Sally Cunningham

The next race for the Junior Team and the other senior skiers in Sweden is a club classic race at a place called Sagmyra which is between Mora and Borlange.

January 4 - A Couple of Cold Days

The Swedish contingent of Australian skiers are now holed up in a couple of cabins 20km out of Asarna in the middle of Sweden. The "Asarnaspelen" FIS races were supposed to be on today, however minus 32 degrees this morning has put everything on hold. This wasn't such a surprise - earlier in the week the "Nyarstafett" (New Year's Relay) in Mora was cancelled due to temperatures of minus 25. This lead to a two-hour session of innebandy at the Folkhogskola, and some serious cases of "bandy-bum" the next day. However the Asarna races are not cancelled, only postponed. Today's distance races are now on Sunday (tomorrow), and Sunday's junior sprint has been moved to Monday. But if it is cold again tomorrow the distance races move to Monday and the sprints are cancelled. The limit is minus 17 for the junior competition and minus 20 for the seniors - and some breathing on the thermometer is not out of the question.

Not all competitions were cancelled today. The World Cups in Kavgolovgo in Russia went ahead right on the -20 limit, with skiers donning all their cold gear and taping up their faces to prevent frost-bite. Luckily the cabins in Sweden came equipped with Eurosport to show all the action live - and MTV to keep Paul Murray happy for the rest of the day. Results from Kavgolovgo in the Summer News section. The Junior Team took a short trip into the Asarna Ski Museum to check out Torgny Mogren, Thomas Wassberg and Jan Ottosson's Olympic, World Championship, and Vasaloppet memorabilia including Wassberg's skis and boots over 2 decades of competition.

A side story this morning, two of the team's three hire cars refused to start in the extreme cold. After two rejections over the phone from car repair men - they could help if it was a flat battery but not a cold motor - the genius of Tim Retchford and Paul Murray came to the rescue. Though others laughed at their suggestion of pouring boiling water on the motor, after 3-4 pots it actually worked. Whether there are any other long-term effects to the motor is yet to be known.

December 30 - Aussies In The Finals

In the Swedish Cup Sprints on December 27 and 29 Paul Murray and Esther Bottomley had their first taste of finals skiing in Europe. Paul managed to qualify for the quarter finals in both the classic sprint in Landvetter (near Gothenburg) and the freestyle sprint in Ulricehamn, and with a smaller field Esther qualified directly into the semi finals in Landvetter. Neither progressed through to the next final, however it was good for them to get the experience of racing head to head.

It was almost like a World Cup for Paul in Landvetter, as he came up against Mikael Ostberg and Tobias Fredriksson in his quarter final - the top two skiers from the last World Cup in Linz. So it was no surprise really that he didn't progress through, but he was also hampered by slower skis and lost contact on the downhill. Esther was a bit outclassed in her semi final, but was more competitive later on in the B-Final. In the Ulricehamn quarter-final Paul was still in contact when they hit the final straight but his legs were shot after Swedish team member Jorgen Brink had pushed the pace all the way and he had nothing left to sprint with.

Other Australians did okay in their first hit out in Europe, but the FIS points were nothing special and not helped by the top World Cup men skiing damn fast and the top Swedish women having only average FIS points - for example Orstig made the finals of the recent World Cups and was 2nd in a Scandinavian Cup this December but those points don't count yet and she still has FIS points of 89.

Swedish Cup Sprint, December 27, Landvetter Sweden

Men Sprint Classic
1   SWE  Bjorn Lind (Fastest Qualifier - 2:48.7)
=1  SWE  Fredrik Ostberg
3   SWE  Tobias Fredriksson
12  AUS  Paul Murray - 3:00.7
28  AUS  Tim Retchford - 3:24.0
30  AUS  Leon Spiller - 3:24.7
31  AUS  Duane Butcher - 3:26.9
34  AUS  Robert Curtis - 3:39.8
Women Sprint Classic
1   SWE  Emelie Ohrstig (Fastest Qualifier - 3:18.0)
2   SWE  Mariana Handler
3   SWE  Maria Magnusson
8   AUS  Esther Bottomley - 3:53.2
11  AUS  Sally Cunningham - 4:29.4

Swedish Cup Sprint, December 29, Ulricehamn Sweden

Men Sprint Classic
1   SWE  Tobias Fredriksson
2   SWE  Jorgen Brink
3   SWE  Fredrik Ostberg
(Fastest Qualifier Mikael Ostberg - 2:40.5)
15  AUS  Paul Murray - 2:50.6
24  AUS  Nick Grimmer - 2:59.5
26  AUS  Duane Butcher - 3:01.3
27  AUS  Leon Spiller - 3:03.2
28  AUS  Tim Retchford - 3:03.5
29  AUS  Robert Curtis - 3:08.5
Women Sprint Classic
1   SWE  Emelie Ohrstig (Fastest Qualifier - 3:06.3)
2   SWE  Mariana Handler
3   SWE  Sofia Domeij
10  AUS  Esther Bottomley - 3:26.4
12  AUS  Sally Cunningham - 3:51.4

Just in case people back home were wondering what happened to Daniel van der Ploeg, after the long trip from the USA he decided to skip the travel down south for these sprints, and stayed back in Mora to train. But he is healthy and actually raced today in a local race in Mora, a 10km freestyle where skied a solid race to open his Swedish account. Rob Curtis did this race also.

December 25 - Back To (The) School

The bulk of the Australian Junior Team has arrived in Mora, Sweden, to train on snow before the 2003 World Junior Championships in Solleftea in just over 5 weeks time. Esther Bottomley was the first to arrive and move into the Mora Folkhogskola, where the Australian Team was based back in 1996. Now Sally Cunningham, Nick Grimmer, and Daniel van der Ploeg have all arrived and moved in, as well as honorary junior team member Rob Curtis and coach Finn Marsland. The only remaining athlete to join the junior team will be Ben Sim, who doesn't arrive until towards the end of January with coach Nick Almoukov. Manager Brian Keeble and assistant coach Allison McArdle also arrive later in January.

The temperature is very cold in Mora now, below -20, so most of the skiing has been done up on some of the surrounding hills, such as Garberg and Gronklitt, where it is a little warmer. The team has also been training indoors, playing soccer and using the gym and double pole machines at the school. The Folkhogskola is well set up for ski training thanks to Christian Minatti, the coach of the skiing class here. As well as a couple of Russian DP machines there is also a converted rowing machine for DP testing and a rollerski treadmill set up with a video so you can watch yourself skiing as you go. Down in the basement there are about 9 profile benches set up for ski waxing, complete with ventilation fans.

The Australian Cross Country Ski Team wishes everyone back in Australia a Merry Christmas!

December 22 - In Brief From Czech

On the weekend KT Calder, Matt O'Rourke and Andrew Circosta competed in a FIS International competition in Horny Mzeky in the Czech Republic. In the 5km freestyle on December 21 KT finished 8th out of a field of 44, scoring FIS points of ~121, her best points in Europe so far. Circa and Matt finished 50th and 56th respectively out of a field of 96, with points of 164 and 174 for their first FIS race of the season.

To read on the earlier travels of these three skiers, look to the recently posted articles Life in the Fast Lane and Circuit Travelling.

December 20 - On The Way Up

Report by Finn Marsland: The last World Cup Sprint event of the year was held yesterday in Linz in Austria. This was the 6th city to host a "City Sprint" event - the others over the last few years being Milan, Stockholm, Oslo, Salzburg, and Dusseldorf. In the men's 1.2km freestyle Paul Murray's form took a step in the right direction as he recorded his best ever FIS points of 42.20.

Paul finished in 52nd place out of 74 starters, just over 10 seconds behind the fastest qualifier Christian Zorzi from Italy, and only just over 3 seconds from World Cup points. It was a solid race, if not quite expectional, but after Cogne it was a great relief to have Paul back to where he was on World Cup last year. That's where he needs to be, where every second counts and small gains mean jumping up 10-20 places. Straight after the race we started to analyse where Paul lost time, and a couple of slips on icy patches cost him valuable time. Though perhaps not as much as for Germany's Dirk Klessen, who fell in the time trial and dropped to 74th place after his best World Cup result of 4th last week in Cogne.

The men's sprint final was won by Mikael Ostberg from Sweden. Mikael and his brother Frederick (who was sixth in the Cogne sprint) are some of the Swedish skiers who Paul will be training with over the coming months in Borlange in Sweden. Paul has already travelled today to Borlange, where he will be based with Leon Spiller until the World Championships in February. Training with some of the fastest skiers in the world will help Paul to refine his training techniques and hopefully find the gains that we are all waiting for.

The next competitions coming up for Paul and other Australian skiers in Sweden will be the Sweden Cup Sprints near Goteborg on December 27 and 29.

December 16 - Not The Start We Hoped For

Report by Finn Marsland: Yesterday was the Cogne Sprint World Cup, Paul Murray's first race for season 2002/2003. While his preparation for this event was hampered by a sore throat, it had cleared up pretty quickly and he was able to do intervals on the sprint course the day before the race. He seemed to be moving okay, and we still had pretty high goals and expectations for the race. We figured 10 seconds behind the fastest qualifier would be about right to be mid-field and that was where we wanted to be. Unfortunately 20 seconds off the pace was where Paul ended up, and it was no consolation that Vittoz the World Cup leader from two weeks ago Vittoz was 0.2 of a second ahead, or that Zorzi the winner of the 2001 Cogne World Cup was only about 5 seconds ahead. The final result was 68th place out of 71 starters, and FIS points of 77.43, well off the pace that Paul achieved in World Cup last year.

So it was a disappointing start, but only 24 hours later in Ramsau in Austria Paul is already looking forward to the Sprint World Cup in Linz in 3 days time. There are several factors that are in our favour for a better result in Linz: First, the race is in freestyle, which Paul had been focussing his training towards over the last month (Cogne was changed to classic only after we arrived in Europe). Second, now he is fully acclimatised to the time, temperature and altitude, and the sore throat from last week is fully behind him. And most importantly, now Paul has a race and a couple of interval sessions under his belt on snow (a tough one today in Ramsau), and is starting to feel like he can go hard without going under.

For more details on the lead-up to the race and Paul's plan's for the season, go to the first installment of the Murray Files.

Also in Ramsau now are national team members Matt O'Rourke and Katherine Calder, and ACT team member Andrew Circosta. These guys arrived here last week after a week of training in Davos in Switzerland. The day we head to Linz they will be heading to a race in the Czech republic, hard up against the Polish border. They are on a pretty hectic racing and travelling schedule throughout middle Europe, and the next time we will meet again will be at the Under 23 Championships in Italy at the start of February.

December 11 - World Cup Team Report

Report by Finn Marsland: The World Cup Team (Paul Murray and I) departed from Melbourne on December 5, but arrived in Munich on December 6 a small 8 hours apart, due to Paul taking the long road via the USA. It sounds crazy, however this detour had two bonuses - a cheaper ticket for Paul and a good deal on excess baggage. Paul took the 20kg team wax box along with his own 25kg ski bag and 25kg travel pack, with no worries at check-in in Melbourne or San Francisco. I took the opportunity to drive down to Schliersee and go through all our equipment stored in Peter Schlickenrieder's shed. Matt O'Rourke and Katie Calder had already been through ahead of us 4 days before, picking up a wax table, ski profile, roof racks and chains, and I extracted another table, chains, and a bag containing flammables such us wax remover and a gas torch. Handy to have storage space! Picking up Paul later in the afternoon we had dinner at the airport with friends from Augsburg then drove back to Schliersee for the night.

On the morning of the 7th we drove down to Val di Fiemme in Italy. We knew snow conditions in middle Europe were marginal before we left Australia, however we had received word that the Sprint World Cup in Val di Fiemme on December 15 should still go ahead. The conditions on the World Championship tracks at Lago di Tesero told a different story - bare ground, and plus temperatures meaning no snow-making. The decision was made the next day - the World Cup was moved to Cogne on the other side of Italy. Luckily snow conditions up at Passo Lavaze and Passo Occlini were okay and we have been able to ski each day. We have a small but comfortable apartment in Cavalese underneath the house of Marco Selle, the coach of the Italian Long Distance Ski Team and also editor of the main Italian ski website - Apart from skiing, eating, sleeping we have been hanging around the local library (so Paul can check the Burleigh surf cam), playing hackey (badly), and yesterday we met Franco Nones - the 1968 Winter Olympic gold medalist who has a very good sports shop down the road in Castello.

Our plan now is to drive to Cogne tomorrow, in preparation for the sprint on Sunday. We'll just watch the mass start classic events in Cogne the Saturday. This sprint is now classic because the Clusone sprint today was changed to freestyle. This will be Paul's second classic sprint ever, and the first since December 2000. It should be interesting as his double pole power has improved a lot in the last two years. After Cogne we head to Linz in northern Austria, for a freetyle sprint in the middle town. And then this seasons's Australian World Cup campaign is over until after the World Championships in February. Hopefully by then some other Australian sprinters will also be qualified for World Cup.

Next report coming after the Cogne World Cup.

December 8 - More Sprint Races + Duane Email #2

Another tough sprint field for Duane Butcher at the Scandinavian Cup Sprint in Vang in Norway. Lots of big name Norwegians and also plenty of Swedes and Finns as well. Duane finished 72nd, and had this to say:

Excerpts from Duane's email report from Vang:
I suppose you have seen the results from yesterday's race? Well, I will start off on a positive by saying that I was only (?) 25 seconds behind Bjerkeli, fastest qualifier over the tough 1.5km course[also fastest qualifier in Salt Lake City 2002], but finished in 72nd place... Felt not too bad, but not 100% "springy" like I know I can be, pretty much like last race really, just "ok". I could go fast, but not fast enough, and my legs were absolutely shot after the second 50m wall climb, the last half of the race I was dying a bit, although finished good. Skis were quick, but not quick enough (raced on plain old HF8 after some race day adjustments). It was a little disheartening actually to see the other dudes just standing around, relaxing, 'cause they had 20 pair of skis and 5 guys madly testing and waxing for them, and there was me running round like a spaz doing everything and then racing as well. Man, it was basically a World Cup, the amount of testing and wax crews and all that stuff. For a FIS race, it blew me away... Another funny thing... Did I mention that we were 4 hours early too??? Yeah the organisers decided to change the start time from 9:30am to 2:00pm, despite saying on the internet that everything would be exactly the same!! Not too happy after getting up at 5:15am to drive there!!!! Oh well, you get that. Not sure about points...[Race points were approx 140, plus a penalty of 16]

Bjerkeli, Svartedal, Solbakken, Iversen, Elden and Brors were all up there in the top ten at least qualifying, but given that I was 72nd, looks like I probably won't be flying down to join you guys for the world cups sorry. The big guns were all absolutely smokin', very fast, and every single heat was a sprint finish and lunge! Iversen was knocked out early again, Elden too after some protesting. Jon Kristen Dahl (a young guy) seems to be the talk of the town, absolutely blazing, along with Kristian Horntvendt - they were in the final) and a couple other kids. I think Svartedal won, but not too sure because by that stage I was becoming hyperthermic.

Duane's next sprint competitions will be the Swedish Cup sprints near Goteborg on December 27 & 29, where he will also be joined by another 10 Australians including World Cup sprinter Paul Murray and four members of the Australian Junior Team.

Scandinavian Cup Sprint, December 6, Vang Norway

Men Sprint Freestyle
1   NOR  Jens Arne Svartedal
2   NOR  John Kristian Dahl
3   NOR  Harvard Solbakken
(Fastest Qualifier Harvard Bjerkeli - 3:02.0)
72  AUS  Duane Butcher - 3:27.9
Women 1.7km
1   NOR  Ella Gjomle
2   SWE  Emelie Ohrstig
3   NOR  Ingrid Narum

In Canada the NORAM Continental Cup in Silver Star also included an Australian in the sprint on the Friday. This was Tim Retchford's first international FIS race, and an eye-opener after just over a week on snow. The field was much bigger than expected, with 88 starters in the men's event, and World Junior sprint finalist Andrew Newall clocked the fastest time in qualifying on what must have been a short fast course. Tim was only 11.4 seconds behind in the qualifying, but 68 skiers were jammed into that little window. Tim also heads to Sweden in the next two weeks to join the Australian skiers based in Borlange and Mora.

NORAM Continental Cup Sprint, December 6, Silver Star, Canada

Men Sprint Freestyle
1   USA  Lars Flora
2   USA  David Chamberlain
3   USA  Kris Freeman
(Fastest Qualifier Andrew Newall - 1:23.8)
69  AUS  Tim Retchford - 1:35.2
Women Sprint Freestyle
1   USA  Wendy Wagner
2   USA  Aelin Petersen
3   CAN  Tara Whitten
(Fastest Qualifier Chandra Crawford - 1:37.9)

December 6 - Duane's Email Report #1

Excerpts (well most of it!) from Duane's email report of the Bulsprinten...
The Gålå Sprint, ah yes, the first FIS race on my schedule and my first classic sprint race. Well, drove over there on the Friday morning early with Reidar my driver/wax tech, to check out the course, suss the place out, etc. Arrived at the trails eventually after getting lost a few times (due to dodgy directions from locals with absolutely no idea, and possibly the speed of the car). When we got there there was not even the slightest hint of a race being held the next day, no signs, no bunting, nobody warming up, nothing. The trails were basically in the middle of nowhere, and it was a gusty and snowy -10, so I guess the locals were just down at the pub or somewhere warm. Skied round a bit and found a start/finish area and something that resembled a sprint course- about 2km long at a guess. Anyway, skiied round for an hour or so, did a few quicksprints, and found a few waxes that were working good (Blue Extra Stick and Rode Blue Super Extra).

Next morning we arrived to find the place buzzing, skiers everywhere and the track all set up. To my dismay, the course was the same one as the day before, approx 1.7km long with three hills, one of them 550m straight out of the start after 100m of DP, and a 200m uphill finish. Went to get my race bib, and got the reply, "The Australian's were already here, they collected all the numbers". Hmmm, figured out that some funny Norwegian's were being pranksters, or either that KT and Nick must be around the place somewhere. Sure enough I bumped into them- couldn't miss the bright yellow tops and the looks of total disorientation on their faces as they walked through the many Norwegian skiers (who all look the same- like they're on the national team). KT's first race too, she and Nick had been driving around Europe looking for snow. Come race time I was all set to go, had good wax, felt ok, but knew it was a tough course first up. Just had to make it up the first hill quick... Had a good start and felt ok double poling (maybe too good, because I kept on double poling just a bit too long) and started striding as fast as I could, only about 250m from the top. After the first hill my legs were toast, but I managed to hang in the tuck until the next DP section. Suddenly some guy yells out "Oi", so I pull over into the other lane and a dead-ringer for Odd-Bjorn Hjelmset comes poling past. I jump onto the back of him and manage to stick with him for a good 400m. By the time I reach the finish, it seems slightly more uphill than I remembered, but I manage a lunge anyway.

After a few warm gatorades I feel that I am not very tired and start to think that I didn't go hard enough. It felt alright, and I was pushing really hard, but I wasn't convinced. The results told the story- 35th place, about 26secs off qualifying. The guy who passed me, Roar Hjelmset (bro to Odd-Bjorn) was just below the cut-off in 17th, .5sec off qualifying, 11secs down. I have not seen the FIS points yet, but it was a genuine schlacking, and I am sure they won't be so good. Trond Iversen, Morten Broers and Håvaard Solbakken were not on the pace in the TT, and apart from Solbakken, the others were knocked out in the first round. It appears that the guys really blitzing were first year seniors, all skiing very fast. KT can give you her version of the race, not sure how she felt she went, but I was just stoked to see an Aussie in the finals anyway! The finals were exciting, but too cold to be standing on the sidelines watching.

Other news; last night I had a pretty big crash during training at Geilo. I somehow crossed my tips tucking down a steep, very fast dowhnill section in the dark and cartwheeled quite heavily off the track and into a drain, landing on my back (not fun). At a quick glance my poles were ok, and one ski was damaged. My neck suffered a good jolt and I have bruised some ribs, but the worst was that my back (which was already a bit tight) is now so sore I can't bend down and it seems to be spasming a bit. After the crash and a quick limb check it was all laughs, however now I am not so sure...

The next race (Sprint F) is on Friday, only two and a half hours from Oslo, so I'll just drive up in the morning, no need for accomodation anyway. I am all entered, etc, and set to go, skis are fast, just need to get the body working again now.

Will keep you updated,

Note - Duane raced today in the Scandinavian Cup Sprint that was moved to Vang, Norway. More news soon!

December 4 - First Australians in Europe

Duane Butcher and Katie Calder opened their 2002/2003 racing account on November 30 at the Bulsprinten in Norway, a FIS classic sprint race in Gålå. Their placings in this event have been posted on the Bul Ski Club site, but no times are available yet. KT was 15th in the women's event, qualifying her to ski off in the finals, but she didn't progress past the quarter finals. Duane was 35th in the men, in a tough field that saw last year's number 1 World Cup sprinter Trond Iversen only managing 12th. FIS points were not good in either race due to large race penalties - even Iversen who rarely gets FIS points above 10 scored points of 94.9. No World Cup qualifying here - KT and Duane both need to go under 100 points to make that step.

Straight after the race Duane felt that he hadn't pushed hard enough. The first race is always tough and difficult to pace correctly, and there are never any easy fields in Norway. It was long course, 1700m with 3 hills. The next race for Duane is more to his style - freestyle - but an equally tough field, the Scandinavian Cup sprint on Friday December 6.

KT raced again the next day, in a 10km classic. Her points were better than in the sprint, but still not flash with an average penalty. However these early races are only training for KT, whose preparation for the international season has hampered by a broken hand, a sinus operation, and plenty of university exams. Her performances are sure to get better and better as the season progresses. KT and coach Nick Almoukov should now have headed back down to middle Europe, where other Australians Matt O'Rourke and Andrew Circosta have just arrived.

Bulsprinten Sprint Classic, November 30, Gålå Norway

Men 1.7km
1   NOR  John Kristian Dahl
2   NOR  Eldar Ronning
3   NOR  Kristian Hornvendt
(Fastest Qualifier Haarvard Solbakken - 3:43.8)
35  AUS  Duane Butcher - 4:24.4
Women 1.7km
1   NOR  Ella Gjomle
2   NOR  Ingrid Narum (Fastest Qualifier - 4:26.5)
3   NOR  Ine Wigernees
15  AUS  Katherine Calder - 5:20.5

Bulsprinten 10/15km Classic, December 1, Gålå Norway

Women 10km Classic
1   NOR  28:56  Jannike Ostby
2   NOR  29.38  Hanne Pettersen
3   NOR  30.31  Anje Rynning Veum
20  AUS  34.10  Katherine Calder
Men 15km Classic
1   NOR  38.36  Geir Ludwig
2   NOR  38.50  Remi Andersen
3   NOR  39.05  Jan Egil Andersen

Other Australian racers overseas already include Nick Grimmer and Daniel van der Ploeg, who are training at Royal Gorge in the USA, and Tim Retchford, who will be racing this weekend in Silver Star in Canada. Paul Murray will be arriving in Europe on Friday December 6, and heading to Italy in preparation for the Sprint World Cup in Val di Fiemme on December 15.

Images From Season 2002/2003

Sally Cunningham Cross-Training on the Siljan lake.

Ice-Skating on Lake Siljan

Bradbury Reinactment Take 3

Allison McArdle, Sally Cunningham and Dan VDP practising their Skydiving

Duane Butcher in Action in Ulricehamn

Guess who this is!?
(The first correct answer has already been submitted)

Esther Bottomley Training in Mora

Dan VDP and Nick Grimmer training in Mora, Sweden

Rob Curtis competing at -17 in the MoraPinglan

Sally Cunningham in Ulricehamn Sprint

Paul Murray in quarter-final of Ulricehamn Sprint - Joergen Brink leading
(Note PM racing in IFK Mora blue/white race suit)



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