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Australian Team Reports 2006/2007
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2007 World Championships
Sapporo, Japan, February 22 - March 4
Back to 2006/2007 Team Reports

The Australian Team

Athletes - Paul Murray, Ben Sim, Esther Bottomley, Katherine Calder, Clare-Louise Brumley, Andrew Wynd
Coaches - Finn Marsland, Nick Almoukov
Service Team - Duane Butcher, Cameron Dickinson

Competition Schedule and Results


For news during the championships: - Official Website - XC Ski World - Faster Skier - Ski Faster - FIS - Cross Country Canada - XC-Ski.de (German)

Australian Team Reports

February 18 Update

Most of the Australian Team has arrived in Sapporo and taken up residence on the 19th floor of the Sapporo Prince Hotel. Clare-Louise Brumley and Andrew Wynd are the last of the athletes to arrive, on February 19 and 20 respectively. Snow conditions are good, through classic waxing was a little tricky at the main cross country tracks today (cold snow becoming wetter during the day then dumping snow mixing in with the wet tracks). The first events of this championship take place at the Sapporo Dome, which was used during the 2002 FIFA World Cup (for the match between England and Argentina). It should be a fun event, though again waxing could be interesting as half the track is inside the dome and half outside. Tickets as sold out for the Classic Sprint on February 22, not surprising as the finals are combined with the opening ceremony. So far the team is enjoying the change in culture and unusual location for a team hotel right in the middle of city of 2 million people. Simbo has sworn to only eat with chopsticks for the duration of his stay in Japan. Esther is restraining herself from shopping on every spare afternoon, and KT is trying to cut down on "Hello Kitty" merchandise. Paul is planning to take advantage of wireless internet in his room to keep his new website (www.paulmurray.cc) updated, so look there also for pics and reports.

February 21 Update

Tomorrow is the Sprint Classic event and Australia has 5 athletes entered. The Sapporo Dome is a pretty spectacular venue, and everyone is looking forward to racing inside the stadium. Today the grip waxing was quite tricky, with dumping snow in the afternoon and conditions changing as the track was skied in. However the forecast for tomorrow is for clears skies and up to plus 4 in the afternoon so the snow is likely to be more consistent at least. Because of some fairly lenghty flat sections on the course many of the male competitors from various nations are considering double poling the course on skating skis, despite two fairly sizable hills outside the dome. However our most likely double poler Paul Murray practised the course with grip and with skate skis on Tuesday, and unless the grip waxing is very difficult he will be going on classic skis. Paul's back injury this past year has meant that he is not as strong in double pole as he was in 2005, though his back is not giving him any problems now and he was feeling good striding out on the track today. Esther Bottomley also tried out skate skis for this course, however she stalled out 3/4 of the way up the first hill, and the consensus seems to be that none of the women are likely to double pole the course. KT Calder is likely to be our fastest woman up the hills tomorrow; the question will be how she will be double poling her socks off on the flat. Similar for Ben Sim, he will lose time to most of the stronger sprinter's on the flat and will be trying to make time on the hills. The biggest unknown for tomorrow will be Clare-Louise Brumley's performance, as she as has decided to focus on this sprint event with the aim of increasing her speed and power, however she has only been on snow for 3 weeks this year and hasn't done any races so her classic sprinting form is completely unknown.

Hopefully some TV footage of the World Championships is shown somewhere back in Australia; just in case we have our special video man Duane Butcher trying to capture as much as possible on his handy-cam to show to put together a DVD for folks back home after the championships. Next report possibly after the sprint tomorrow night, however it will be a long day and the report might not be up until the next morning.

February 23 AM Update

Paul Murray made an impressive return to international competition yesterday with 38th place in the Sprint, however he was disappointed not to qualify for the top 30 and a place in the finals. Read his race report here. Ben Sim also had a pretty good race, losing a little time on the flatter sections of the course but still finishing 51st (out of 83 starters). Our women however didn't really crank, with KT Calder, Esther Bottomley, and Clare-Louise Brumley finishing 60th, 61st, and 62nd from the field of 71 starters. Waxing conditions again changed throughout the day and we did a good job with 3 of our 5 athletes having good skis. However we didn't get the grip/speed combination quite right for KT and Esther and their skis were a little slow. Both athletes need some new skis with better stiffness for klister wax.The Sapporo Dome is a spectacular venue to race in and it would have been awesome to have an athlete in the finals.Today we have the Team Sprint, with Paul and Simbo teaming up together in the men's semi-final and Esther and KT in the women's. The guys are fired up and ready to give making the top 5 teams and the finals a crack, though it will be a hard task with some very strong competition in both semi-finals. The girls are a little more apprehensive, as they have never raced a team sprint at world level before.

February 23 PM Update

Unfortunately our female World Championship Team Sprint debut was over before it began today - the team had to withdraw due to a minor neck/back injury to KT Calder. She had a bit of a niggle before the Classic Sprint but it was a lot worse this morning, and after having it looked at by our in-team physiotherapist (athlete Andrew Wynd) she decided it would be better to skip the team sprint to hopefully be better for the Pursuit and 10km later in the championship program. In the end it was probably a good thing, as the rain softened course would have made it tough for Esther Bottomley (she struggles to ski fast in slush). Think of the wettest conditions you've seen at a race in Austalia and then make it a bit wetter. In the men's Team Sprint the Paul Murray / Ben Sim combination finished 16th out of 21 teams. Paul stepped up the starting line in semi-final #2 (contrary to the splits on the result list) and stuck with the main pack until towards the top of the second big hill when he lost a few metres off the back (because he was going just about max). Then he had a bit of excitement as the Hungarian athlete fell coming down into the stadium and Paul had to half jump him to stay on his feet while the Czech skier went wide on the other side. The Czech skier pulled away (they ended up 3rd in the final) as they rounded the back of the stadium and the gap to the main pack was maybe 40-50m at the change. Simbo skied like the clappers to try and catch up but couldn't get back on. He had to settle instead for overtaking Greece coming into the stadium, sending Paul out side by side with their strongest skier Lefteris Fafalis (who had the 2nd fastest time on the first leg). Paul felt better on his second leg, staying with Fafalis until over the top of the second hill and only losing maybe 30m by the next change. Simbo smoked past the second Greek skier up the first hill, and seemed intent on catching Switzerland who had just dropped off the main pack. Paul really hurt hard on his last leg, and Simbo started his last leg 45 seconds behind Switzerland and 6 seconds ahead of Greece. It looked like they were going to be the positions at the finish, however all of a sudden as Simbo came down into the stadium with only 400m to go there was a lone Swedish skier dawdling along the track. Simbo thought that it was a bit rude that he was warming down already, but in fact it was Peter Larsson who had stacking massively on the last corner. Was it to be a sprint with Sweden for 8th place in the semi? No, Simbo went past and Larsson had had enough and pulled off the track. All up 16th was a couple places better than in Oberstdorf in 2005, however the boys weren't as competitive in the pack this year and duelling it out with Greece wasn't the same as with Switzerland in 2005. It may have been a different story if the track was hard and fast, however there's nothing to do but be fitter and faster next time around.

Tomorrow is the men's 30km Pursuit and it is just Ben Sim entered. The race is back at the Shirahatayama stadium; it has cooled down significantly tonight and snow is forecast tomorrow so grip and glide will have to be completely restested again. Go Simbo!

February 24 Update - The Crazy 88

There was carnage today in the men's 30km Pursuit with many skiers falling on a fast downhill corner and some having to pullout. Ben Sim fell heavily on his 4th lap but survived the distance to finish in 53rd place out of 88 starters. At the time of his fall on the classic leg he was skiing well, leading a group of about 5 skiers about 2:20 off the leaders with less than 1km left to go before the changeover to freestyle. He lost at least 30 seconds in his spectacular crash (which was apparently caught on video by some Canadians, we'll try and track that footage down), and started the freestyle leg in 53rd place with blood streaming down his nose. He initially caught and put time into the skier ahead of him, but then looked to be suffering through the middle of the skate leg and was overtaken by 3-4 skiers. Simbo dug deep on the last 3.75km lap and took 2 of them back to be up into 53rd again at the finish. A very tough day at the tracks, and though Simbo will be thinking of what might have been without the fall (possibly in the top half of field, as he was around 45th when he fell) there were others who came off worse. 30 skiers failed to finish the race today, about a dozen or so because of falls and the rest withdrawn before they were overtaken by the leaders. Skis and poles were broken and possibly some ribs as well, and though Simbo's nose is hurting and he may wake up tomorrow with black eyes his body should be fine for the 15km Freestyle coming up next Wednesday. Here's what he had to say in the evening after the race:

What a day! Firstly, dammit. I think today would have ended my run of bad luck with pursuit races at top senior level. In the past I've yet to have finished or come extremely close to being lapped.

The race started off quickly but it felt like a good pace that I could handle and after 2 laps of the 3.75km track I joined a good bunch of guys (2 Spanish, 2 Japanese, Belarus, Canadian and French) and we worked well together. I had great skis and was feeling good. Then came crunch time and I'm not talking about the pace picking up. Just 500m before changing to the skate leg was the crunch of my face into the icy wall on the corner of death (It wasn't called that before but I think after today it will be). At first I was winded for 30 seconds or so but then came in the pain and the vision of blood dripping all over the place. Not to worry I thought so off I went for the chase. Soon after having the skate skis on I realised that I'd lost my rhythm and probably pushed a bit hard and then just started hurting. Finishing the race was important though and I'm happy that I did. Bad luck maybe but that's how skiing goes and it will probably save Paul, Wyndy and me from doing the same next Wednesday. So now its 15km skate on my mind in four days time.

The latest on KT Calder 's back is that it is improving but she will not be racing the Pursuit tomorrow. She did some shorter intervals today with only minior discomfort and will definitely be starting the 10km Freestyle on Tuesday. So now the waxing crew have a rest for a day before starting to test glide again on Monday.

February 26 Update

Nothing too exciting to report from the rest day, although we think we have accidently booked a karaoke room for an hour for 10 people on the evening of the 28th. Paul Murray is also leading the chaarge for the downtown ferris wheel sometime that evening. The women's pursuit yesterday wasn't as crazy as the men's; they redesigned the corner of death and the women were a little more cautious and no major accidents seemed to occur. Tomorrow KT is up in the 10km Freestyle. The course was hard and fast today though, and on the 5km loop there are two slightly tricky corners. Not so bad if the course stays firm, however today they became a bit chopped up and also icy in sections in the second one where people had been sliding to wash off speed. KT's skis were running well today and hopefully also tomorrow, though conditions could change slightly with a little snow and possibly sleet mid afternoon before the race starts. KT starts at number 18 in the field of 77 competitors, which is seeded back to front with the world cup leader starting last. There is possibility the race could have footage broadcast live on the Eurosport website so have a look at around 5PM Australian time if you get a chance. Otherwise the FIS site will have the splits posted as the athletes pass intermediate points. Here's cheering for KT to stay on her feet and have a cranking race! 

February 27 Update

KT Calder finished 52nd today in the women's 10km Freestyle. Half way through the race she was about 2 minutes behind the winner Neumannova from Czech, then she dropped a little more time on the second lap to end up 4:23 behind at the finish. Neumannova spanked the field, winning by 27 seconds. KT was disappointed with the way she skied, as she been feeling good at the start of these championships during intervals training and thought that she was starting to find form. However for some reason she had a lot of trouble sleeping last night, and fairly average training over the last 5 days due to her injury probably didn't help. Originally KT wasn't planning to do the 30km Classic on Saturday, but now that her back seems to be good she is contemplating starting this event.

There were some falls again on the course, but not as spectacular as in the pursuit events. The snow was pretty fast and there was some serious snow plowing going on from a lot of the field before the tighter corners (including a massive one from Neumannova, but when you can ski 30 seconds up on the field washing off a bit of speed probably doesn't matter so much). Tomorrow is the men's 15km Freestyle and we have three men in the start. Paul Murray is off first at number 22, then Andrew Wynd with number 31, and Ben Sim with number 50. With 121 competitors in the field, that means Simbo is seeded number 72 from FIS points. He is aiming higher than that, but it certainly is a strong field. The last 40 starters have FIS points under 30. Paul's early start number is due to only skiing a couple of distance FIS races in the past year, and he is tempted to go for it over the first 5km to make sure he gets his face on the screen in the stadium as the early leader. However sanity will probably prevail, if he wants to have any chance of a decent result at the finish. What constitutes a decent result tomorrow? For Simbo top 50 would be a good result, for the other two guys if they make it between 80 and 90 they have probably had a good day - neither has been under 120 distance points this season, and the top 80 seeded athletes have average FIS points under 120.

February 28 Update - Japanese Lottery

What a crazy day today. At one stage Ben Sim was in the top 30 in the World Championship 15km Freestyle, the next he was out of the top 60. Paul Murray had the fastest skis he'd ever raced on, then in the same race the slowest. One completely unseeded skier made the podium, and another was 4th. A former World Champion threw off his skis in disgust mid-race, possibly to regret it later on. All thanks to that super reliable Japanese weather, and a dump of snow in the middle of the race today. The earliest starters today got the best deal for sure. Start numbers 2 and 4 from Austria and Belarussia ended up 4th and 2nd, skiing pretty much the entire race on the fast pre-dump snow. Paul and Wyndy had good skis for their first lap and a bit, but then when the snow came down they were slow, and slowest in the last 2-3 km when they were tired. They ended up in 94th and 102 respectively out of 121 skiers. Simbo got most of this first lap all on good snow, and after 5.7km he was in 27th place. However when the snow became slow, Simbo's became really slow, like Paul's and Wyndy's and he lost considerable time at the end to end up in 61st place. Because of the widely varying conditions throughout the race its difficult to say that this was a good result or not. Even being on the track 3-4 minutes later or earlier at times made a massive different. There was definitely an opportunity today for people starting at the right time and with the right skis. Vittoz from France spat the dummy just after 5km and pulled out, when he was down in 70th place or so. However Angerer from Germany started 30 seconds after him and toughed it out, and when it stopped snowing towards the end of the race and it was skied in by people ahead of him he romped home to take the bronze medal. Teichmann from Germany was in 65th at 5.7km and 12th with 1.8km to go and skied into 5th. It was just about impossible to predict when and how much snow would fall and how much it would change the conditions - in all the last week when it snowed it hadn't produced such slow snow as this. So to wrap it all up for our guys: It was good experience for Wyndy to make his World Championship debut, even though he was aiming for a lot better result. He was pretty nervous before the race, and will know what it is like the next time around. For Paul, it was an okay race and he already had a good sprint so anything here was a bonus. And for Simbo, 61st out of 121 is not a bad result, though nobody has any idea today how it would have been if everyone had the same conditions. We can soul search and ask what could have happened if we did this or that with skis or wax, but in the end it was really just a Japanese lottery.

Now, karaoke tonight, then we wait to see if we have any starters in the 30km or 50km. If the World U23 Championships are on in Tarvisio on February 12-18 Simbo will rest up for them; otherwise he will make his 50km debut here in Sapporo. And if KT is feeling good she will make her 30km debut.

March 3 Update

KT Calder started the 30km Classic today, however she was one of 10 athletes not to finish. It was slow snow, getting wetter as the day went on. KT got away to a good start and was with the main pack for about 2.5km. But then when she lost contact on one of the climbs she started to work her way back steadily past other athletes who had dropped off the main bunch earlier. In the end she didn't complete one of the four 7.5km laps, pulling out (conveniently) near the wax cabins. It is always disappointing to pull out of a race, however KT hadn't ever been preparing for this race and the main idea of starting was to go with pack from the start and see if should could pull a rabbit out of a hat. But the only rabbit in the race was Norwegian junior Therese Johaug who split up the main bunch with her early "energiser bunny" pace and held on for a very impressive bronze medal. So that's the end of competition for the Australians at the 2007 World Championship. Ben Sim is not racing the 50km, aiming instead for the World U23 Championship in Italy in just over a week's time. He will be joined there by Alex Almoukov and Aimee Watson, who will compete in the World Junior Championships.

Thanks for joining us for these team reports. All up its been an okay but not sensational championships. Paul Murray's sprint result was good considering his last 12 months, and Ben Sim skied well throughout though not with a lot of luck, but objectively on the result list we haven't progressed that far since 2005. Yes it was good experience, particularly for Andrew Wynd at his first championships, but experience is only good if you learn from it and do things better the next time. At the next World Championships in Liberec in 2009 we really want to arrive with a team of 8-10 athletes who are in great shape and hungry to acheive something special. We have to crack into those sprint finals, get our top distance athletes into the top half or third of the field, and have some new young faces skiing their best and learning for the next time after that. Soredewa, mata!

KT Calder with the stadium camera following, women's 30km Classic

The Competition Schedule


Australian Competitors


February 22
Men and Women Sprint Classic

Paul Murray
Ben Sim
Esther Bottomley
KT Calder
Clare-Louise Brumley

Men's Time Trial Results
Women's Time Trial Results

February 23
Men and Women Team Sprint Freestyle

Ben Sim / Paul Murray
KT Calder / Esther Bottomley (scratched)

Men's Results
Women's Results

February 24
Men 30km Pursuit

Ben Sim


February 25
Women 15km Pursuit



February 27
Women 10km Freestyle

KT Calder


February 28
Men 15km Freestyle

Ben Sim
Paul Murray
Andrew Wynd


March 1
Women 4 by 5km Relay



March 2
Men 4 by 10km Relay



March 3
Women 30km Classic

KT Calder


March 4
Men 50km Classic



Images from the 2007 World Championships

Australian Team, 2007 World Championships, Sapporo Japan
Back row L-R: Clare-Louise Brumley, Cameron Dickinson, Nick Almoukov, Esther Bottomley, Finn Marsland, KT Calder, Duane Butcher
Front row L-R: Andrew Wynd, Ben Sim, Paul Murray

Those two handsome fellows, Paul Murray and Ben Sim

Ben Sim rounding the corner into the finish straight in the 30km Pursuit

Simbo makes it to the big screen

Ben Sim with his nose all cleaned up after the race.

KT Calder coming over the bridge in the stadium, women's 10km Freestyle

Andrew Wynd rounding through the stadium after it started snowing in the 10km