Australian Team Reports 2004/2005
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XC Ski World
Cross Country Canada
Oberstdorf, Germany, February 17 - 27
Back to 2004/2005 Team Reports
The Competition Schedule
Dates/Events Australian Competitors Reports/Links
Women 10km Freestyle
Clare-Louise Brumley Race Report February 17
Men 15km Freestyle
Race Report February 19
Women 15km Pursuit
Clare-Louise Brumley Race Report February 20
Men 30km Pursuit
Race Report February 22
Race Report February 22
Race Report February 21
Women 4 by 5km Relay
None Race Report February 24
Men 4 by 10km Relay
None Race Report February 25
Women Sprint Relay
None Race Report February 25
Men Sprint Relay
Race Report February 26
Women 30km Classic Mass Start
None Race Report February 27
Men 50km Classic Mass Start
Ben Derrick Race Report
The Australian Team in Oberstdorf 2005 (click for larger version)
L-R: Paul Murray, Brian Keeble (manager), Leon Spiller (masseur), Bjorn Kristiansen (wax technician) Andrew Mock, KT Calder, Clare-Louise Brumley, Ben Sim, Ben Derrick, Esther Bottomley, Robert Fischer (test pilot), Nick Almoukov (coach), Finn Marsland (coach).
February 15 Update
Most of the Australian Team arrived in Oberstdorf last weekend. Dumping rain at the start of the weekend turned to snow and basically it hasn't stopped since. Leave the cars for 15 minutes and they have to be cleared of snow again. Generally the atmosphere amongst the team is very positive, Paul Murray's fantastic effort in scoring Australia's first World Cup points on Sunday a great boost for team morale. The accommodation is very good, with the athletes split up into 3 appartments within short walking distance from the centre of Oberstdorf and meals taken at a hotel/restaurant. The remaining members of the service team arrive today and tomorrow, just in time for the first events on February 17. By Australian standards this is a large team and a large service team (mostly voluntary), hopefully we manage to have fast skis and some good results. Paul Murray's result in Reit im Winkl has raised the bar and now a top 16 result in the sprint is being discussed seriously, but even a repeat top 30 result would be an awesome result. For the other events a top half of the field result would be a great achievement; regardless the athletes and the service team will do all they can to get as good a result as possible on each day.
With the exception of KT Calder everyone is healthy and ready to race. Unfortunately KT is still struggling to properly shake a virus that has been kicking around for nearly a month now. Hopefully she will be in good enough shape to compete in the sprint next week. The rest of the team are looking foward to the individual start freestyle events coming up on Thursday, except for Esther Bottomley who is looking forward to the local sprint in Fischen tonight. Some of the Aussie guys will also be competing in this event, which is held about 20min down the road from Oberstdorf in the centre of Fischen. The field looks to be a mix of some of the World Championship teams, some athletes who have missed out on the championships, and local club skiers. Should be good fun, hopefully some of our guys/gal make the finals and get into the money. [report in normal news section]
It will be a busy championships with lots of different events being contested, so reports may not be as regular as some of you would like. But please be patient and we will endeavour to get news from the Australian perspective up when we can. For other news check out the usual links at the top left of this page. The German site XC-Ski.de is also running a live (text only) internet coverage on the events, so if you can follow some German this could be a good one to have a look at.
February 17 Update
The opening events of the championship were today; the women's 10km freestyle and the men's 15km freestyle. Clare-Louise Brumley put in great performance in her first world stage event), finishing 52nd out of 73 starters in the women's event. CL started at a steady pace as usual to help her combat her asthma, and also used a face mask to help warm up the air (commonly used by skiers in very cold conditions) which resulted in her receiving a lot of TV time and commentary. However CL gave it the thumbs up and she picked up the pace as the race went on, moving from 60th at 1.8km up to 54th at 8.4km and on to her final result on 52nd, 4 minutes 15 seconds behind the winner Neumannova from the Czech Republic. Top job CL! Now hopefully the lungs recover for the 15km pursuit in 2 days time.
In the men's event Australia had a full 4-skier contingent, and three of them managed to finish within 20 seconds of each other. Ben Derrick took 80th place 4:45 behind the winner Piller-Cottrer of Italy; Ben Sim 81st 4:57 back; and Andrew Mock 5:04 behind. Paul Murray struggled the most, finishing in 101st place 7 minutes off the pace, well off from his distance skiing form from late December. Ben Sim started impressively fast for the commentators, and from position 67 was in 3rd place on the track at 1.8km. Unfortunately he couldn't keep the speed up, and fell back a few place behind Ben Derrick midway through the second lap before rallying at the end to get back up to 81st. Mocky was the most consistent of the Australian men, skiing evenly in 81st place and dropping 2 spots only at the very end. Not quite the top half of the field result we were hoping to come from one of the guys today, but three guys around 2/3 of the field is not bad. Thanks also for making it as difficult as possible to choose the team for the sprint relay.
Up next for the men, the 30km pursuit on Sunday where probably Ben Sim will be the only Australian starter.
February 19 Update
The women's pursuit was today, and Clare-Louise Brumley put in a another impressive performance to take 49th place out of 67 starters. The pace was hot right from the start, and CL was back in 58th place at the end of the first 3.75km lap. As the lungs warmed up she started to pick off skiers on the second lap, and went into the change in 52nd place. CL's changeover wasn't so fast (10s behind the quickest), but heading out into the skating leg the top two USA skiers gave her something to chase. She picked off Wendy Wagner already on the first half of the first lap, but Rebecca Dussault maintained about a 10-12 second gap. This gap started to shorten on the second lap, and CL dug deep on the last hill to move right up onto hertail with 500m to go. They came down into the stadium neck and neck, and CL managed to outsprint Dussault to break under the top 50. Special mention to the waxing team (Bjorn Kristiansen heading up grip wax, Robert Fischer on glide wax) who did a great job.
So tomorrow is the men's pursuit, and Ben Derrick will be joining Ben Sim on the start line. Because of the short laps and the new FIS rule of no overlapping, our guys will have to really crank just to be able to finish. They will need to start the 7th lap (22.5km) within about 6 minutes of the leaders. Depending on the speed of the tracks, (new snow is expected) possibly 1/3 of the field will have to withdraw.
February 20 Update
As expected it was very tough for the weaker skiers in the field to finish the men's pursuit today. 32 athletes withdrew or were forced to withdraw to avoid being overtaken by the leaders on the 3.75km laps. Unfortunately Ben Sim was one of the early skiers to withdraw, not because of the danger of being lapped but from insufficient grip on the classic leg. His race skis were too stiff and he had to work way too hard to make them grip on the first lap. With little chance of making it through to the changeover he decided to pull out, for the first time ever. Ben Derrick raced on the softest skis he could find and did a pretty good job to make it to the changeover just under the time limit. (23 skiers didn't make it to the change). Then he was only allowed to complete one loop in the freestyle technique, despite being still well clear of the leading pack. Looking at the time splits would definitely have made it through the 6th lap without being caught and could possibly have made it through the 7th lap as well. However had he been able to start the next two laps there was no way he would be been able to finish, because FIS was so ruthless on the no-overtaking rule that even Martin Muller from Denmark was forced to pull out when he only had 500m downhill to go and was still over 1 minute ahead of the pack. Crazy. Anyway, Ben was in about 65th or 66th place (out of 94 starters) when he was stopped.
Now for the Australian team the attention turns to the classic sprint on Tuesday. At this stage it looks like all 7 athletes will start, including KT Calder who is the only athlete who hasn't competed so far[Oops. And Esther Bottomley of course]. Snow is expected (yet again) to fall during the qualifying, which could make for interesting waxing.
February 22 Update
Today Paul Murray achieved Australia's best ever place at a cross country skiing World Championship, 31st place in the 1.2km sprint classic, Paul was 7.7 seconds behind the fastest qualifier Vassili Rotchev from Russia and 2.7 seconds outside the finals. An impressive result, however it was also a day to consider what might have been. At the 900m mark, just before the top of the second hill with only a downhill and the finish straight to go Paul was a serious chance for pulling a sensational result out of the bag and qualifying for the finals in the top 16. He was 1-2 seconds ahead of many of the skiers between him and a spot in the finals, including Andrew Newell from the USA who qualified in 16th place and Swedish skiers Ostberg and Brink who qualified 24th and 27th. Unfortunately that was Paul's race spent, and in the final 200m double pole when normally he should have been comparable with the top skiers he dropped out of contention and out of the top 30. Yes 31st is still a very good result , but today it seemed like top 16 was within reach and Paul and the coaching team all felt it.
Ben Sim skied his best classic sprint ever to finish in 54th place out of 89 starters, 16.8 seconds off the pace and ahead of a lot of handy sprinters. This was one of the toughest classic sprints around so a pretty good effort by Simbo. Andrew Mock was another 8 seconds back in 64th place, an improvement on his Reit im Winkl World Cup a week ago. Ben Derrick in his second classic sprint ever was 71st 4.5 seconds behind Mocky.
In the women's sprint Esther Bottomley also skied her best ever classic sprint that didn't involve only double poling to take 51st place from 73 starters, 18.2 seconds behind the fastest qualifier and eventual race winner Emelie Ohrstig from Sweden. This was Esther's third sprint race here on these tracks in the last year and a bit and this was easily the best she has skied. Maybe classic sprints aren't a lost cause after all. KT Calder skied a pretty good race for having been sick on and off for the last 6 weeks (and having barely skied in the last week) to finish in 58th, 4.2 seconds behind Esther. A fit and healthy KT could have done well today; but unfortunately this was not to be. Clare-Louise Brumley was another second further back and 61st in her first classic sprint, feeling like she was just warming up for a 5km.
Now there is a bit of break before the next event. It has been decided to skip the men's 4 by 10km relay on Thursday to concentrate on the 2-person sprint relay on Friday. At the moment the most likely team will be Paul Murray and Ben Sim for the men, and with KT Calder out of form no sprint relay for the women. Clare-Louise is still considering the the 30km classic on Saturday but may skip it to concentrate on FIS points in the Swiss Championships next week.
February 25 Update
A small moment of glory today during the sprint relay when Ben Sim leaped up into 2nd place on the first leg of the semi-final and changed over to Paul Murray in 4th place. The other teams in our semi-final were Sweden, Czech, Canada, USA, Switzerland, Kazakstan, Ukraine, Estonia, Belorussia, China and Armenia. As they headed down the straight befor the changeover the stadium announcer made a startled call in German "and ladies and gentlemen, a big surprise, in third place Australia!" followed by a huge cheer from the crowd. Paul Murray kept us up there on the second leg, changing back to Simbo in 6th place, but from there things went downhill. We dropped back to 9th and then 10th behind Switzerland on the middle two legs, out of contact with the leaders. Simbo dug deep on his last leg and overtook Von Allmen of Switzerland, giving Paul a 5 second advantage on the 2nd Swiss skier Eigenmann, and Paul hung on for dear life on the last lap to maintain the gap and get us 9th place. The top 5 teams qualified for the final, which was won by Norway; Australia ends up in 18th place out of 24 teams. A top effort by the guys, while we had grand aspirations of making the finals before the race (and for a while during the event) this was not quite the day. Good experience though and now we (the athletes and the support staff!) have a taste of being up in contention we are hungry for more.
Clare-Louise has decided to skip the 30km but Ben Derrick has stepped up to the plate to give us one competitor in the 50km classic on Sunday. Sure classic is not his specialty but long-distance is, so maybe he can pull something out of the bag.
February 28 Update
Yesterday was the final event of the championships, the 50km freestyle classic. And what an event, tough and slow with dumping snow during the middle and latter stages of the race. The result was a massive pack at the front of the race with stragglers off the back having to carve their own way through the new snow. Unfortunately Ben Derrick lost contact with the main pack before the snow began to dump, so wasn't in there when the pack started to slow down when no-one wanted to lead into the new snow. Regardless, he skied a very gutsy race mostly alone (or with Danish skier Jonas Olsen) to finish in 50th place out of 70 starters, about 12% behind the winner Frode Estil of Norway. Pretty good for a guy who swore black and blue that he wasn't crazy enough to do a 50km classic and still had serious doubts about starting right up until the day of the race. The main pack still had about 30 odd skiers with a couple of km to go, with Estil, Aukland and Hjelmeset doing all the right things at the very end to make it a Norwegian trifecta.
So that's the end of the 2005 World Championships in Oberstdorf, we had high expectations of the Australian Team here and though we fell a little short on some goals on the whole it was a very positive event. The highlights were definitely Paul's 31st place in the classic sprint, and the adrenaline rush as Simbo nearly took the lead in the sprint relay. Some members of the team weren't quite in peak shape, but they all gave it their best shot on the day and produced creditable performances. Special thanks to Brian Keeble for his usual dependable job of team manager and also his additional role of team chauffeur, and to the service team of Bjorn, Nick, Robert and Leon who delivered probably the best support that an Australian Team has ever had at a major championships. Finally, thanks to our team attache Karin Morlock, and special thanks to Oberstdorf local and ex-pat Australian Derek Barber, who was always available with local knowledge and connections in the lead-up and during the championships (and also garage space). When in Oberstdorf the Australian Team stays at Haus Montana, Ferienwohnung Wirth or Haus Hiesinger and dines at Sascha's Kachelofen. The Australian Team travels with Peugeot 307 Station Wagons from Peugeot Open Europe arranged through Drive Travel in Mt Eliza. This has been a Hoppet Office production.
Possibly more images coming over the next week.
Images from the 2005 World Championships
Ben Sim in 2nd place behind Lind of Sweden, 1st Semi-final of Men's Sprint Relay
Paul Murray (black) passes off to Ben Sim at 2nd exchange in Sprint Relay
Kazakstan and Estonia to left, USA to right
The Australian athletes in Oberstdorf
L-R: Paul Murray, Ben Sim, Andrew Mock, KT Calder, Ben Derrick, Esther Bottomley, Clare-Louise Brumley
The Australian service team in Oberstdorf
Leon Spiller, Robert Fischer, Bjorn Kristiansen, Nick Almoukov, and Finn Marsland
Paul Murray on his way to 31st place in the Sprint Classic
Ben Sim in the Sprint Classic
Esther Bottomley in the Sprint Classic
KT Calder in the Sprint Classic
Andrew Mock going for it in the 15km Freestyle while Paul Murray wonders if he left the iron on
Ben Sim on his way to a fast early split in the 15km Freestyle
Finn Marsland recites poetry to Ben Derrick in the 15km Freestyle
Clare-Louise Brumley complete with mask alongside a Swede in the 15km Pursuit
Nick Almoukov back from testing skis
Paul Murray resting up during the men's 30km Pursuit
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