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Solleftea, Sweden, February 3-9
Official Championship Site
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Aussie WJC Reports
February 2 - On the Eve of the Championships
The 2003 World Junior Championships in Solleftea are all set to start with the opening ceremony tomorrow night and the first races on Tuesday February 4. The Australian Team is staying at Hotel Hallstaberget, which is the perfect place for races in Solleftea as the stadium is about 50m from the door. There is plenty of snow and the tracks are in good condition. It was cold when we arrived on Friday afternoon, down below - 15, but now it has warmed up to - 5 and the forecast is for about -2 and light snow for the first races.
The athletes are all in pretty good shape, Esther Bottomley is the only one who has been sick in the last month and she seems to have recovered. The others have all had some promising results in the lead-up races, with Ben's recent senior World Championship qualifying effort in Switzerland the most impressive. Now almost all that is left to do is to ensure that they have fast skis in the competitions here (touch wood).
The Official Championship Site or the FIS site will likely be the quickest to post results, and we will try to get summaries of the Australian performances up the evening after the race (Sweden time).
Manager: Brian Keeble
Coaches: Finn Marsland, Nick Almoukov, Allison McArdle
Athletes: Esther Bottomley, Ben Sim, Nick Grimmer, Daniel van der Ploeg, Sally Cunningham
Women 15km Freestyle
Men 30km Freestyle
Daniel van der Ploeg
Women 5km Classic
Men 10km Classic
Daniel van der Ploeg
Women 1km Sprint
Men 1km Sprint
Daniel van der Ploeg
Women 4 by 5km Relay
No Australian Team
Men 4 by 10km Relay
No Australian Team
February 4 - Competition Day One - Women 15km and Men 30km Mass Start Freestyle
A successful start to the 2003 World Junior Championships with Ben Sim taking 25th place in the 30km mass start. This is the best place ever by an Australian at this level of competition, and bodes well for the future as Ben still has two more years left as a junior. Ben had a good start on the grid, number 35 out of 71, and was up into 20th place already at 1km. After 6 skiers went off the front before the 5km mark Ben was in a pack taking in places 7 to 25 and looked to be skiing comfortably. On the third lap of 7.5km this pack broke into two, with Ben in the second pack with places 14 to 22. Ben went through into the final lap in 16th place, but lost contact with the pack when he started to hit the wall with 2-3km to go, and was caught by a few more skiers. The other Australian in the race Daniel van der Ploeg did not get such a good start, and after 1km was sitting in about 68th place. Dan busted a gut to get up to about 50th place at the end of the first lap, but then was stuck between groups with no-one to help work into the wind and against the new falling snow. On the third lap Dan was caught from behind and got into a small group with Cook from the USA and an Ukrainian, but his steam was already starting to run out. Cook left him half way round the last lap and skied up to 48th place, but though losing a lot of time in the last 5km and being caught by a Japanese a very tired Dan VDP managed to hold onto 53rd place after dropping the Ukrainian and catching a Croat. 53rd out of 71 is not bad, though we cant help but think what might have been had Dan managed to get into one of the big packs on the first lap.
Up front Dementiev from Russia broke away mid-way through the first lap by himself and built up a lead of over a minute on a chasing group of 4, which he still held with one lap to go. Just when the commentators were starting to announce the Russian's victory Jespersen from Norway decided he had other ideas. Dropping first a German and a Swiss, Jespersen took off with Petukhov from Russia in tow, and started to peg back the leader. And then all of a sudden Dementiev proved not to be invincible after all and hit the wall, and with 2km to go Jespersen was only 10 seconds back with Pethukov another 10 seconds behind him. Jespersen cranked past on his way to victory, while Dementiev crawled home with just enough wheaties to get onto the podium.Men 30km Freestyle Mass Start 1 1:23:13.5 Chris Jespersen, NOR 2 1:23:46.7 Alexei Petukhov, RUS 3 1:24:11.0 Eugeni Dementiev, RUS 25 1:29:07.1 Ben Sim, AUS - 7.08% - 105.8 FIS points 45 1:34:28.2 Dave Nighbor, CAN 48 1:35:51.9 Brian Cook, USA 49 1:36:05.7 Cyrus Kangarloo, CAN 53 1:38:01.8 Daniel van der Ploeg, AUS - 17.79% - 212.9 FIS points 57 1:40:08.3 Glenn Rondall, USA 71 skiers in start 60 skiers in finish
There were no Australian girls starting the 15km, with Sally Cunningham concentrating on the 5km classic and Esther on the sprint. Almost no comments to be made on the women's race from inside the wax cabin, except that the winner Vorontsova had already broken away after the first lap, and Artemova lead Rydkvist up the second last hill past the wax cabins.Women 15km Freestyle Mass Start 1 46:37.7 Ekaterina Vorontsova, RUS 2 47:14.4 Maria Rydqvist, SWE 3 47:17.1 Irina Artemova, RUS 15 48:44.2 Lindsey Weier, USA 29 50:04.6 Daria Gaiazova, CAN 45 51:39.0 Madeleine Williams, CAN 46 52:00.6 Perianne Jones, CAN 47 53:12.1 Carina Hamel, USA 56 skiers in start 51 skiers in finish
February 6 - Competition Day Two - Women 5km and Men 10km Classic
Day two of competition was quite a bit colder, about -15 during both the men's and women's competitions. All of the Australians had pretty good grip, and reasonably good glide. It was a tough 5km for Esther and Sally, which saw them finish at the back of the field. For Sally it was her first big international competition, and she did well to keep her technique together, ski in the tracks up all the hills, and keep pushing all the way to the finish. At 17 she has two more years left as a junior to work her way up the list. Esther didn't really crank, possibly affected by her lack of racing over the last 3 weeks, and with no doubt kept something in reserve for her main event in two days time.
The outstanding skier of the race was Malvalehto from Finland, winner of last year's sprint, who started last and recorded the fastest time by 25 seconds. From there it was much tighter, with Limby from Sweden only 1 second from the podium and only 8 seconds separating 3rd from 8th. Three Russians and three Swedes made the top 8, with Kowalczyk from Poland perhaps the biggest surprise in 5th place. The best of the English speaking nations was Gaiazova from Canada in 16th place.Women 5km Classic 1 15:23.5 Mona-Liisa Malvalehto, FIN 2 15:49.3 Ekaterina Vorontsova, RUS 3 15:54.5 Elena Plotzskaja, RUS 16 16:20.6 Daria Gaiazova, CAN 19 16:25.5 Lindsey Weier, USA 31 16:48.9 Allison Crocker, USA 40 16:59.2 Madeleine Williams, CAN 42 17:02.9 Kristina Trygstad-Saari, USA 48 17:16.3 Perianne Jones, CAN 52 17:28.0 Chandra Crawford, CAN 58 17:41.3 Lindsay Williams, USA 63 19:32.8 Esther Bottomley, AUS - 27.00% - 197.0 FIS points 64 19:44.9 Sally Cunningham, AUS - 28.35% - 204.9 FIS points 64 skiers in start
If it wasn't for Ben Sim's flying 30km on Tuesday, his 10km today would have been the best Australian % behind the winner since Anthony Evans in 1989. His 49th place out of 83 was right in the thick of it where every few seconds is another place. Both Ben and Dan were feeling the effects of the 30km, their legs lacking real spark on the hills. Despite this, Dan's 142 FIS points was still his best in a classic event. Nick Grimmer's World Junior debut was pretty solid, he started well and was 12 seconds up on Dan after 5km, but faded towards the end. His training has been mostly directed towards the sprint on Saturday, and he seems to be in good shape. Incidentally, the third Australian in the race was ahead of the third Swede.
Dementiev from Russia had no trouble with hitting the wall today, and won comfortably from Koschevoy from Kazakstan. Both Kazakstani competitors were very lucky not to be disqualified, as they deliberately ignored a direct order not to race in hats which were in breach of the FIS commercial markings rules. One wonders if it had been a smaller country further down the result list that the jury might not have been so lenient.Men 10km Classic 1 27:40.0 Eugeni Dementiev, RUS 2 28:09.1 Yevgeniy Koschevoy, KAZ 3 28:11.9 Maxim Bulgakov, RUS 26 29:47.4 Leif-Orin Zimmerman, USA 34 30:01.2 Dave Nighbor, CAN 42 30:25.9 Ryan Foster, USA 44 30:30.6 Brian Cook, USA 49 30:42.1 Ben Sim, AUS - 10.97% - 100.8 FIS points 51 30:50.4 Andrew Newall, USA 52 30:53.4 Graham Nishikawa, CAN 61 31:31.6 Sean Crooks, CAN 65 31:43.6 Cyrus Kangarloo, CAN 72 32:36.6 Daniel van der Ploeg, AUS - 17.87% - 142.2 FIS points 75 33:16.6 Nick Grimmer, AUS - 20.28% - 156.7 FIS points 83 skiers in start
February 8 - Competition Day Three - Women and Men 1km Sprint Freestyle
A great finish today for the team with Esther Bottomley finishing 21st in the 1km sprint, the best ever place for an Australian at the World Junior Championships. Nick Grimmer and Ben Sim also skied solidly placing 41st and 46th in the men's event, with Daniel VDP 68th out of 75 showing that sprint is not his specialty. Esther was only 1.5 seconds outside qualifying for the finals, and with FIS points of 74.37 has become the first Australian woman to qualify for World Cup since FIS point limits were introduced in 1995. Under 75 points also qualifies Esther for free accommodation at the World Championships, and she has already begun looking into re-routing her ticket home via Italy.
With only 12 skiers out of 58 left to finish Esther was still sitting in 16th place with a tiny glimmer of hope of making the finals, however then a bunch of skiers who started at the back because they didn't have any sprint FIS points pushed her down to 21st. The reigning sprint champion Malvalehto from Finland was the fastest qualifier, however when the finals came around she didn't display her best form and was knocked out in the semis. Lindsay Williams from the USA impressed with a 4th place in the qualifying, however she was knocked out in the quarter finals. In the final Hannonen from Finland lead out of the stadium until she tripped herself up, but though she recovered quickly into 3rd place the fall helped Kowalczyk from Poland to get a small break over the top of the hill. Into the stadium again for the finish and the Pole looked to have it, but she hit the wall big time and Fessel from Germany (last year's second place) mowed her down. Mathieson from Norway also caught the Finn right at the end to take third place.
Nick was a bit scrambly in the men's time trial, but was satisfied to go under 10% and be only 3/4 of a second outside the top half of the field. Ben's 46th place was only a second behind Nick ,which was pretty damn good considering two tough races already this week. Not surprisingly his legs were quite fatigued. Though toward the back of the field, Dan should be happy enough to be faster than the first woman in the sprint time trial, which has been an obstacle for the best Aussie guys the last few years. Three guys from the USA and one from Canada made the finals, and all three from the USA made it to the semi-finals. Both Zimmerman and Newall from the USA were right up there and involved in lunges for 2nd place in their semis but ended up in the B final, where it was USA 1 2 3. The main final saw the fastest qualifier Kjoelstad from Norway way too good and he skied away from the others to win comfortably. Uusitalo from Sweden held onto 2nd place until the last curve before coming back down into the stadium, but was passed by Bakkeford from Norway who pulled away in the straight. Fanjas Claret from France then put it up to Uusitalo, and in a photo finish it was France with the bronze medal.Women 1km Sprint Freestyle - Qualifying Time Trial 1 2:18.96 Mona-Liisa Malvalehto, FIN 2 2:19.43 Maria Magnusson, SWE 3 2:19.65 Marianne Hannonen, FIN 4 2:20.70 Lindsay Williams, USA 19 2:23.41 Katie Ronsse, USA 21 2:24.43 Esther Bottomley, AUS - 2.94% - 74.37 FIS Points 22 2:24.51 Chandra Crawford, CAN 29 2:25.86 Daria Gaiazova, CAN 36 2:27.89 Kristina Trygstad-Saari, USA 43 2:30.09 Lindsey Weier, USA 45 2:31.19 Perianne Jones, CAN 51 2:32.79 Madeleine Williams, CAN 58 skiers in start 58 skiers in finish Final 1 Nicole Fessel, GER 2 Justnya Kowalczyk, POL 3 Christine Mathiesen, NOR 4 Marianne Hannonen, FIN Men 1km Sprint Freestyle - Qualifying Time Trial 1 1:57.80 Johan Kjoelstad, NOR 2 1:58.27 Andrew Newell, USA 3 1:58.96 Erik Bakkejord, NOR 4 2:02.78 Leif-Orin Zimmermann, USA 12 2:03.85 Sean Crooks, CAN 16 2:04.52 Ryan Foster, USA 32 2:06.93 Steve Scott, USA 33 2:07.46 Graham Nishikawa, CAN 35 2:07.58 David Nighbor, CAN 41 2:08.63 Nick Grimmer, AUS - 9.19% - 126.94 FIS Points 46 2:09.60 Ben Sim, AUS - 10.02% - 135.17 FIS Points 69 2:45.44 Daniel van der Ploeg, AUS - 15.79% - 192.90 FIS Points 75 skiers in start 74 skiers in finish Final 1 Johan Kjoelstad, NOR 2 Erik Bakkejord, NOR 3 Sylvain Fanjas Claret, FRA 4 Fredrik Uusitalo, SWE
So that's it for the Australian Team at the 2003 World Junior Championships, apart from a quiet orange juice tonight, we have no relay teams and we are out of here tomorrow. Some impressive performances from the team this year, hopefully we will continue to climb up the result lists in 2004 in Stryn, Norway. Thanks to Brian, Allison, and Nick for lots of hard work (all voluntary), and to all the athletes for their commitment and professional application. Bye for now.
Images from the 2003 World Junior Championships
(Maybe some more to come)
Esther in 5km classic
Finn M telling Dan that the Split Timer isn't working
Ben in 10km classic
Dan VDP in 10km classic
Ben Sim leading pack at start of 3rd lap
Daniel VDP in 30km
Ben Sim in 30km
Nick Grimmer training on the sprint course
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