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Australian Team Reports 98/99

Senior Team

Nov 26 - Last Minute Panic

Dec 3 - Feet up in Canmore

Dec 6 - The race circus begins

Dec 11 -Continental Cup Quotes

Dec 12 - Promising start and clumsy finish

Dec 16 - Another couple of laps please

Dec 19 - Mad dogs and Australians

 Dec 30 - The Mile High New Year's Club??

Jan 9 - A comedy of errors

Jan 10 - Viva Espania

Jan 16 - It is a Castle, dammit

Jan 17 - Another day at the office

Jan 27 - Caught with our pants down

January 31 - A day of celebration

Marcialonga Report

König Ludwig Lauf Report

Some Austrian Race


1999 World Championships 

World Cup Wrap-Up

Some Austrian Race - 2nd Weekend in February - E-mail from Ben Derrick


An interesting day spent by Christie and myself. We went down to Bad
Kleinkirkheim for some Loppet race (20km generally flat skate). After
getting up at 5:30am we drove down off the mountain into the valley. Due to
the fact that it has been pissing snow for the last week we had to fit chains.
I really dislike chains and the worst thing about being irritated by an
inanimate object is that there is no rational way to get back at it. Luckily I
am not a rational person and after colourful 15mins we made our way to the
race start (now running late of course).

To cut to the chase we made it on time, and somehow managed to get on the
front row. Unfortunately I was right on the outside. I know that this is where
you like to start but.......when the starter began counting down from 10 I
knew there was going to be trouble. The people on the other side of the line
decided to go on six. You know I can't really count in German and even I knew
where they were up to. By the time my side made it through the barreir the
others were gone and I had a hea[ of skiers to get through. To cut the story
short again I skied okay for 5th. The race was actually won by a guy by the
name of Cheating Bastard closely followed by I Can't Count Backwards From Ten
and then Duh I Was Only Following The Others. To cap off a great day I didn't
win any prize money even though they advertised the top 5 as money winners and
I got a new pair of ski's stolen from the start area. Mmmmmmm that really
pisses me off the week before worlds.

Anyway we still had a pretty good day that was quite enjoyable. But at the
moment I am seeing double so I going to bed.

Cheers BD

König Ludwig Lauf 1999 - Finn Marsland

Oberammergau, Germany. Choice of skate or classic, 55km.

Difficult wacing conditions and new falling snow just below zero dictated the flow of the classic race. It was much faster to ski in a track already skied in and so a lead pack of 25-30 skiers stayed together for abour 25km. It was also apparent from all the double poling going on that no-one had really good grip. However some people had at least some grip. Last years winner Staffan Larsson disappeared suddenly on the side of the track; He apparently scraped off the wax he had, and took about 5km to catch back up. Then on the one big hill everything broke up. Those with a little grip went off the front and and most without grip broke up into smaller groups. Just double poling, Staffan Larsson lost contact on the hill but managed to catch up on the other side, about 15 skiers in the lead group. After 50km of mostly double poling the lead group finally spread out, with the Swedes coming to the fore when it mattered most; Östberg 1st, Westin 2nd, Svahn 3rd, Larsson 4th. Dorota Dziadkowiec was the first woman. For this little Australian it was goodbye pack on the big hill and goodbye arms after a heck of a lot of double poling. 22nd place with 6km left, 43rd place at the finish.

In the skate the conditions were also not much fun, dumping snow and strong wind. Germany's Johann Muhlegg (1996 Kangaroo Hoppet winner) won easily, Swede Carina Moden the womens. A small group of schnapps filled Australians who took part in the skating race were found later that evening ambushing each other with snowballs.

Koenig Ludwig Lauf Web Site

Marcialonga 1999 - Ben Derrick


The story of the boy without protection.

The thing about leaving your windproof briefs at home is that one day you're going to get caught with your hand down your pants. For me that day was the Marcialonga 1999.

After a good Millegrobbe the weekend before and some serious 'feet up' time during the week I was ready to put in a big performance. Top 30 was probably a reasonably achievable goal. 72km skating. First 18km slightly uphill, next 47km slightly down then a tough 7km climb at the finish. 4,200 entrants. A car for the winner and prizemoney for the top 12. Excited Italians cheering everywhere. The scene was set for a huge performance. One problem. A cold snap enveloped the area the day before sending a chilly wind barrelling down the Val di Fiemme. This was to play a major role in my race.

Start 8:30am. Up at 5:30. Awake by about 8:25. Anybody who has done a mass start race in Italy will know how chaotic they are. 150 mad Italians and 50 internationals in the elite group made for pure madness. The field had a lot of stars including; Johan Muelegg (GER) winner of the 1996 Hoppet, Godenzio Godioz (ITA) third place in last years Marcialonga, Staffan Larsson (SWE) who last year managed not to win the Vasaloppet, Juan Jesus Gutierrez (SPA) three podium finishes in the Marcialonga, Gorgio Vanzetta (ITA) former Olympic and World Championship medalist, Maurilio de Zolt (ITA) who last week was beaten by an Australian. Without a front row start I got off to a shocker, but after a few km everybody settled down into the pace that they would hold for the next few hours. Up front Gutierrez and Muelegg made a break early and by the 17km mark already had a huge 1:30 min gap to the chase pack. I had settled down into about 20th or 21st place, skiing with an Italian at a nice pace. But at -18 C I was rapidly discovering that a spare hat down the pants was no substitute for proper pretection.

At about 22km we picked up Larsson and I was thinking that a top 20 was looking good. However my problem was becoming critical. Finally at 30km I had had enough. The poles and skis came off and I had some serious warming up to do. A few worried spectators wandered over to see if they could offer help, but after a conversation in very broken Italian one of them patted me on the back and said " Ah, si si si". Loosely translated to "I see what your problem is and there is nothing we can do". By this stage I had drawn quite a crowd (all I wanted was to be very alone), and the next pack flew past. My race was effectively over. About 20-25 minutes later I finally stood up again, decided that the world was a much better place, sheepishly said goodbye to my supporters and resumed the race in about 140th place. Having been standing around in -15 C it took a few kms to warm up again and then "What the hey" I went for it.

Up front Gutierrez and Muelegg were turning it into a two person event. I skied like a demon for 30km then really really really hit the wall at the bottom of the hill. The problem I had was my drink bottle had frozen and I had only been grabbing a mouthful at each drink station. So I stopped to fuel up then slowly set off again. About half way up the final hill a vision was slowly condensing in my mind of the skier ahead:

121 Amber, Luis :Argentina

Argentina!!! It's not that I felt any better it's just that I found that I could go a bit harder. I passed the Argentenian, hit the wall again, and finally crossed the line in 88th, just ahead of Canadian Biathalete Jeff Lewis. Absolutely stuffed. For the victory Gutierrez and Muelegg slowed up at the finish and staged a draw. Godioz in for third, Vanzetta 4th and Carl Swenson(USA) 5th.

All in all an interesting day. But to be fair the Marcialonga would be an awesome race in good weather. And now I know that I have to do it again.

Marcialonga Web Site

January 31 - A day of celebration

Hey why not, it's just a good day. No news yet from the Marcialonga where Big Benny Derrick is fighting it out against Jesus and many Italians. Here's a very quick wrap up from yesterday's Alpen Cup in Virgen, Austria.

Andrea Huber from Switzerland cleans up the women's 5km classic ahead of a couple of Italian girls. Camille Melvey finishes 45th with FIS points of 145.03, not her best result to date but maybe the Dolomitenlauf took a bit out. Conditions were not much fun, very wind minus 10 degrees. In the men's 30km, Italy, Italy, Italy. Italians take eight of the top ten places. Finn Marsland loses a bit of time of the last two laps (6 by 5km) and finishes in 18th place, with 83.47 FIS points.

The news in from the Marcialonga: A draw! Juan Jesus Guitierrez and Johann Muhlegg broke away early, and that was the race. Somewhere along the way, the two skiers decided to share the victory, and crossed the line arm in arm. Guidina Del Sasso was the first woman for the fourth year in a row. Carl Svenson continued his successful European tour with a fifth place. And Big Benny Derrick? Unfortunately circumstances were not kind to Ben. After 30km he was skiing with Staffan Larsson in around 20th place, and sometime soon we will hear Ben's report on how he ended up in 88th.

Now. The World Championship team, consisting of Ben Derrick and Camille Melvey, with Tim Greville and Pip Daley as coaches and Christie Dowling as token blonde, will be training with the Italian team at Livigno until January 9th. Also joining them for this altitude camp is Mika Myllylae from the Finnish team. According to Italian coach Alessandro Vanoi, Syvlio Fauner, Fulvio Valbusa, Fabio Maj, and Stephania Belmondo are all in very good form, and will train mainly easy distance during their stay at altitude. More on the Italian training camp in a week or so.

Finn Marsland has left the team for a diet of long classic races, starting with the Konig Ludwig Lauf next weekend and ending with the Vasaloppet in March.

The World Junior Championships have started in Saalfelden, and Australia will be represented by Kate Spiller, Katie Calder, and David College. Unfortunately, communication with the Junior team has broken down again, and reports from Saalfelden may only come second hand.

January 27 - Caught with our pants down.

The Millegrobbe 1999

Three 30 km skating races in three days. Guaranteed, so they say, to bring you into super form. Or break you. A tough field in 1999. Last year's winner Juan Jesus Gutierrez, with fellow Spaniard Jordi Ribo, winner of the last Alpen Cup. Maurillio de Zolt back again. Annual participant Russian Andrei Kukrus. And ... most daunting of all - Julia Tschepalova. 30 km skate winner at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Maybe not a threat to an Anthony Evans or an in form Ben Derrick. But certainly a threat to a 'short classic race preferring' Finn Marsland still carrying a couple of symptoms from a four-day cold.

Day One. 'Not only did I beat De Zolt, I sat on him and then kicked away'.

A shocking start saw Derrick back in about 60th place and behind Tschepalova for the first 5 km. But from then on it was BBD at his long skate cruising best. Steadily working his way from pack to pack, Derrick climbed up to 10th place, De Zolt the last person to be left in his wake. Who cares that the guy is nearly 50? Who cares that it has been a couple of years since he last skied World Cup? The guy is a living legend in Italy, won an Olympic gold medal in 1994, and won this race two years ago.

Meanwhile up at the front the two Spaniards caned the rest of the field, with Jesus knocking off Ribo in the sprint. Back behind, Marsland had his own personal battle with Tschepalova. just hanging on behind for about 15 km, then spat. Tschepalova too strong on the big hill out the back, 40 second lead at the finish. The battles have begun.

Day Two. 'You fast'. (De Zolt to Derrick as a skier starts to catch up from behind)

Derrick v De Zolt. De Zolt sits on Derrick for most of the race. Kicks on the last hill and puts 8 seconds into him. Derrick goes into the final day still in 10th, 30 seconds ahead of De Zolt.

Gutierrez v Ribo. Ribo takes round two, point one of a second ahead, Guitierrez takes a half second lead into the final day.

Tschepalova v Marsland. Marsland has early lead, but Tschepalova touches the back of the group of six with 5km to go. Luckily the group kicks over the top of the hill and drops Tschepalova, gap extends to 30 seconds and Marsland pulls back to within 10 seconds for the big finale.

Controversy. Despite Marsland leading his group for 7km early in the race, a couple of disgruntled Italians think he didn't share the lead in the last 10km (which is true). When Marsland went to sprint past in the final 200m he received an earful and a shove on the shoulder. Tempers are hot, but no-one understands one another. No horse's head found in the bed that afternoon, aprehension high for the 3rd, and last, 30 km.

Day Three. "Dai Maurillio, dai Maurillio. The good thing about skiing with De Zolt is that everybody cheers, even people being lapped. The bad thing is that none of the cheers are for you."

Gutierrez wins the sprint on the final day and takes the overall victory, one point three seconds ahead of Ribo after 90km. Not a second between them each day. A possible Spanish victory in the Marcialonga next weekend?

Derrick is up in 3rd or 4th place for most of the race, keeping an eye on De Zolt. The pack cruises for 25km and goes flat stick for the last 5km. De Zolt pips Derrick in the sprint, but Derrick has got him overall and also moves up to 9th. 100.000 lire, two bottles of wine, and a big trophy. It would have been more money, but the organisers paid for three by four days full board. Marsland sits behind Tschepalova for 10km, goes to the front to take his turn and appease the mafia, drops the pack and makes up enough time to move up to 13th overall. Small trophy, Tschepalova's signature on a race bib to commemorate the battle.

The big mover on day three - Michelle Carrington Smith up to 9th overall in the women, two big trophies, one for being from Tasmania, and a Timex sports watch for moving up the most on the last day. Special mention for Paola Pezzo, Italian mountain bike champion and Olympic medallist, 3rd overall in the women. By the way, 'Caught with our pants down' was a reference to changing into ski gear up at the tracks.

Next. Plans are a'changing. Ben has decided to do the Marcialonga. Finn will join up again with Camille, Tim, Pip and Christie for the Alpen Cup in Virgen, then possibly the Lowlanders World Criterium and the König Ludwig Lauf. Stay tuned..

Overall results.

1.      3:26.59.6       Jesus Gutierrez SPA
2.      3:27.00.9       Jordi Ribo      SPA
3.      3:33.03.1       Daniele Odorizzi        ITA
6.      3:34.30.7       Andrei Kukrus   RUS
9.       3:37.17.8      Ben Derrick     AUS
13.     3:42.53.9       Finn Marsland   AUS
1.      3:43.50.8       Julia Tshepalova        RUS
2.      4:04.00.0       Maria Canins    ITA
3.      4:10.42.9       Paola Pezzo     ITA
9.              Michelle Carrington Smith       AUS

And now for a word from the Dolomitenlauf.

While Michelle and the boys were sunning themselves on the Meditteranean side of the mountains, across the great divide in Lienz, Austria, the crowds were gathering in Lienz for the Dolomitenlauf, the first northern hemisphere Worldloppet race of season 1998/99.

Australian interest focused firmly on Camille Melvey, who had finished second in the Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek last August in the first race of the season. The women's race was taken out by local favourite, Maria Theurl, from trhe village of Thal, just up the valley, with Russians Nadia Simak and Nadia Slesareva in second and third place. Camille impoved significantly on her time in last year's Dolomitenlauf to finish in 12th place for the race and equal second in the Worldloppet Cup standings.

An equally strong field in the men's section saw Michail Botvinov, formerly from Russia, now sking for Austria, take first place ahead of Johann Muhlegg of Germany and Alois Stadlober of Austria. Special mention to Carl Svenson of the USA, who took out 4th place. Carl and Nathan Schultz in Europe skiing a few Worldloppet races for the US based Fischer Factory Team.

Worldloppet Cup standings (after two races)
1.      113    Ales Vanek    CZE
2.      100    Michail Botvinov    AUT
3.      82    Vitaly Tchernov    RUS
4.      80    Anthony Evans    AUS
4.      80    Johan Muehlegg    GER
1.    180    Nadia Simak    RUS
2.    100    Camille Melvey    AUS
2.    100    Maria Theurl    AUT
4.    60    Nadia Slesareva    RUS
4.    60     Jenny Altermatt    AUS

Jan 17 - Another day at the office

On some courses the skiers disappear into the woods and come back half and hour later. On the 5km race track at Silvaplana anyone prepared to rush back and forth a bit (in this case about a hundred people) can cheer at eight different places, and then you wish you could disappear for half an hour.

All the Australians who started today moved up places in the pursuit except for Finn who missed out by point 2 of a second. Camille moved up to 14th in the 10km skate, Katie Calder to 11th and Kate Spiller to 14th. Ben made the biggest jump, from 31 to 21, amid unusual circumstances. Within the first 5km it looked as though Ben had bridged the 21 second gap to Finn with apparent ease. Then, the start police. Apparently they had let him start too early, and made him stop still on the side of the track for 10 or 15 seconds before letting him go again. Then he had to do all the work into the wind to make up the gap again, catching Finn after 10km. They skied together for 2km until Ben put the foot down and put about 10 seconds on in a couple of hundred metres, the gap staying about the same until the finish. Ben's quote for the race: "The toughest (&*^^%# 15km I've ever done. You know when you are skiing 10 seconds behind someone for 10km but can't bridge the gap you are doing it hard."

From now the team starts to head in different directions. Finn and Ben leave tomorrow for Val di Fiemme and the infamous Millegrobbe next weekend. The junior team hangs around Pontresina until Wednesday, then heads off to the British Championships in Ruhpolding Germany, picking up Dave College from Munich on the way. Actually, he's not from Munich, he's just arriving to Munich from Canada. The rest of the team stays here in Silvaplana until after the women's 15km and then its hello Dolominenlauf. If all goes to plan. then the senior team will meet again in Virgen, Austria, for another Alpen Cup on the 30th. Reports may come between now and then, can't really say just now, depends on internet access in Val di Fiemme or if the Hoppet office is ready and waiting to type up faxes.

Swiss Championships, Silvaplana, January 17
All skiers Swiss unless mentioned, total time and then skating time
Women 10km Skate Pursuit
1    47.29.9    30.44.9    Brigette Albrecht
2    47.47.0    31.02.0    Sylvia Honegger
3    48.59.1    31.29.1    Natasha Leonardi-Cortesi
4    51.02.1    33.12.1    Cornelia Porrini
5    51.33.6    33.42.6    Andrea Huber

14    54.03.8    35.03.8    Camille Melvey AUS

Men 15km Skate Pursuit
1    40.47.7    Wilhelm Aschwanden
2    40.33.8    Patrick Maechler
3    40.37.5    Stephan Kunz    LIE
4    41.12.3    Reto Burgermeister
5    41.16.7    Beat Koch

11    43.08.9    Markus Hasler    LIE

21    43.43.5    Ben Derrick   AUS
23    44.16.2    Finn Marsland    AUS

Junior Women U20 10km Skate Pursuit
1    50.14.4    32.26.4    Karin Carmenisch

11    57.21.9    36.39.9    Katie Calder    AUS
14    59.31.4    37.52.4    Kate Spiller    AUS

January 16 - It is a Castle, dammit

Not very long ago it was quite common for the Australian Team to compete at the Swiss Champs. In 1990 the solo senior team of Chris Heberle was joined by a forlorn junior team who'd just had the World Junior's postponed as there was no snow. 1992 was the year of glory when the boys won the relay and someone, Paul Gray maybe, finished 4th in one of the individuals. In 1993 Tom Landon-Smith arrived direct from the hot springs of Colorado (also smelling of the hot springs of Colorado) and played the didge beside the big guy with the cow bells who appears at every major Swiss event. Mark Gray and Anthony Evans used it as their last preparation before heading off to Lillehammer for the 1994 Winter Olympics. Then... Somehow Switzerland lost it's attraction for a while and Sweden became the base for the Aussie team. Sweden however has constantly changing rules carefully designed to stop Australians from skiing in the Swedish Championships. Anyhow now we're back, the big guy with bells is back, there's Elvia flags everywhere, a castle beside the start, Rivella to drink, free hats at the finish line, and just to add something new, new cars for the first three men and women overall. Yep, a brand new VW each. Not that we're in the running, but pretty sure they're only for the Swiss.

Okay, now to the first race. 5km classic for women and 10km classic for men. Dry snow, air temp about minus 4, snow temp maybe minus 7, Rode multigrade or Toko red the wax. Camille continued with her good form, hanging onto Swiss team member Andrea Huber for a while and finishing in 16th place, 2 minutes 15 seconds behind Sylvia Honegger, who pipped Brigitte Albrecht by less than a second. By the way, Albrecht finished 6th in the last World Cup in Nove Mesto. In the guys, Wilhelm Aschwanden blew the field away, leaving amongst others Lichensteiners Stephan Kunz and Markus Hasler in his wake. Finn was 23rd and Ben 31st, over 3 minutes behind and separated by a poultry, hmm, or is that chicken, paltry 21 seconds. Should make for an interesting pursuit tomorrow.

But that's not all as the Junior Team has appeared out of the wilderness! Yes they were in Davos and Ben went and picked them up in the trusty Renault van. Possibly we'll get a report out of them at some stage, who can tell. Katie Calder and Kate Spiller raced in the under 20, finishing 14th and 16th, Christie Dowling, only a couple of days back from sickness decided to race at the last minute, perhaps not so wisely and will skip the pursuit tomorrow.

Swiss Championships, Silvaplana, January 16
All skiers Swiss unless mentioned.
Women 5km Classic
1    16.45.1    Sylvia Honegger
2    16.45.9    Brigette Albrecht
3    17.30.3    Natasha Leonardi-Cortesi
4    17.39.9    Franziska Unternaehrer
5    17.50.6    Cornelia Porrini

16    19.00.6    Camille Melvey AUS
23 in start

Men 10km Classic
1    30.17.8    Wilhelm Aschwanden
2    31.00.0    Reto Burgermeister
3    31.02.6    Patrick Maechler
4    31.10.1    Stephan Kunz    LIE
5    31.18.1    Beat Koch

8    31.50.6    Markus Hasler    LIE

23    32.24.9    Finn Marsland    AUS
31    33.45.9    Ben Derrick   AUS
58 in start

Junior Women U20 5km Classic
1    17.48.3    Karin Carmenisch

14    20.42.5    Katie Calder    AUS
16    21.39.2    Kate Spiller    AUS

Junior Women U18 5km Classic
1    18.01.7    Sereina Mischol

35    25.24.1    Christie Dowling    AUS

World Cup Shorts
If you checked the results from Czech you would know that Bente Martinsen won yet another World Cup classic race, Norway went 1 2 3 in the 15km classic, and that Michael Botvinov and Kristina Smigun each posted their first World Cup victories. You might not have believed that Austria won the men's relay, though no surprises in the women's relay, Russia. However, you would not have read about the exciting end to the men's 30km skate as told by Chris Derrick as seen on Eurosport:

Bjorn Daehlie in front at 25km, then Botvinov started closing the gap. At 27.5km Daehlie had 6 seconds on Botvinov and going into the finish was still several seconds in the lead. With about 15m to go, big Bjorn poled his left boot. This had two effects. The first was to make him fall. The second was to give him outright lead in the biggest looking dickhead of the year award (note: taking the lead from Finn's collision with the finish pole in Canmore, only because it wasn't on TV). Not to let one fall get in the way of victory, Daehlie decided to try and skate with his right pole between his legs. Much study has gone into this and it is widely known that it it doesn't work. He fell again and then struggled over the line. Botvinov looked in fine form all the way up the straight and won by 1.3 seconds.

Next world cup is in Seefeld on the 14th of February, just before the World Championships in Ramsau.

Postscript. Pip says she has been playing mighty fine cards and kicking everyone's butt.

January 10 - Viva Espania

Well the spanish are cranking and Camille has picked it up a level. While her 29th place in this Alpen Cup doesn't say much, her FIS points of 111.69 are the best Australian female skier's points since Myfanwy Cross' 122 points in early 1997. Which brings us to the question: What are the lowest ever FIS points for an Australian female? Myfanwy's 122 was touted as the best in an ASI team report from 1997, however there is some conjecture on this matter. There are rumours of Camille posting a 95 FIS point result back in the early 90's when FIS points sarted to kick in. Possibly Alina McMaster might have something to say as well. Anyone out there who can bring light to this crucial fact of Australian skiing history is most welcome to email in.

By the way, all the team are now reading email through Camille's laptop address: CMelvey@aol.com

Ben and Finn's FIS points were higher than in Canada, by how much we don't know but on the new points list they are sitting on an average of 86.11 and 84.57 respectively. Ben says it went better and better as the race went on, if it was all like my last lap it would have been good. But I can do better. Finn says no comment. No, hold on, skating sucks.

The team now heads to Silvaplana in the Engadin valley for the Swiss Championships. The Engadin, usual the most reliable for snow, has been found wanting this year, though we are assured that they are making snow for the championships. Hopefully we'll hear something from the junior team in the next few weeks - they deserted Pontresina at some time due to said lack of snow and moved to a new secret location(s) known only to a handful of people who are not allowed to travel on the same plane at the same time.

Argentiere, Alpen Cup January 10, 1999

Women 10km Skate
1    30.26.5    Steffi Voelkel   GER
2    30.35.7    Gaby Kolanos    SUI
3    30.37.9    Claudia Kunzel    GER
4    30.47.6    Natascia Leonardi-Cortesi    SUI
5    30.48.9    Lara Peyrot    FRA
6    31.12.5    Aurelie Storti    ITA
7    31.17.9    Regula Hulliger    SUI
8    31.36.7    Sabine Hudry    GER
9    31.40.9    Isabel Klaus    GER
10    31.52.6    Anja Krellner    GER

29    33.40.7    Camille Melvey AUS    FIS points: 111.69
32 skiers in start

Men 15km Skate
1    39.01.0    Jorge Ribo    SPA
2    39.26.7    Juan Jesus Guitierrez    SPA
3    39.57.8    Bruno Cararra    ITA
4    39.59.2    Pietro Broggini    ITA
5    40.01.0    Emmanuel Jonnier    FRA
6    40.04.9    Agostino Filippa    ITA
7    40.22.9    Klaus D. Mariotti    ITA
8    40.36.1    Bruno De Bertolis    ITA
9    40.40.8    Haritz Zunzunegui    SPA
10    40.43.0    Tobias Schworer    GER

34    42.58.3    Ben Derrick AUS    FIS points: 93.81
41    44.32.9    Finn Marsland AUS    FIS points: 118.01
43 skiers in start

World Cup ???
Unfortunately the computer at the pub in Argentiere with internet access is on the blink and we can't check up the latest from Nove Mesto. Fortunately, if you can read this then you can have a look yourself, at that fine Finnish fellow's World Cup site.

January 9 - A comedy of errors

Hello Europe, hello the big stage. The first event in the Alpen Cup here was a two person relay. Five times 1.4km each for the men, three times each for the women. Christie Dowling came down sick on the morning of the event, so Camille was left without a partner and did some frustrated intervals instead. The result of the women's relay; Germany 1, Switzerland 2, France 3.

Finn started first in the men's field of 17, and got away ok, sitting about 7th after the mad rush to the first corner. Unfortunately, half way round the first lap one eager overtaker trying to get back into the line went down, taking out the guy next to him and who should be next in line but Finn. Last down, last up, the rest of the pack went by and the aussies are in last place. By the time Ben started he was at the back of a pack of four, with two other main packs already long gone. On Ben's second leg he cranked, breaking away from the other three and giving Finn a handy gap. Finn held the gap and started to reel in the Austrian ahead, but at the change he stepped on Ben's ski and the three behind regained contact. Ben broke away again, but this time one French guy hung on. Finn led the French guy around for his fourth lap and the Austrian started to look close again, but the French guy overtook and gained about 10 metres at the change. Ben caught up pretty quickly, but hoopla hoopla he caught an edge on the downhill and fell, lost all speed, hello last place once more.  Unexciting last laps each and not a very successful start to European racing. Who won, Italy maybe, could be Spain second, another Italy third, who cares.

The good news is that the Italian skier who was a couple of places ahead of Ben in Kimberley signed the list (last place) in the 15km classic in the Alpen Cup in Furtwangen earlier this week. There is no question that the European continental cup races are going to be a little tougher than their North American counterparts. Tomorrow's race will be down in Chamonix, 15km skate for men and 10km for women on a tough (aren't they all?) 5km loop.

Postcard from Argentiere...
We have been staying at the Gite le Belvedere, full of swedes and scots and english. In fact the whole valley is full of swedes and poms, here for the alpine skiing, snowboarding and climbing, which are supposed to be pretty good. The Belevedere is run by a Canadian couple, the NZ team stayed here last year, good food, good company, though the rooms a little cramped and creaky. Camerbert is very cheap. Jet lag hit everyone for the first 4 or 5 days. Trivial Pursuit has been a big hit, though it is an US version and knowledge of US geography and politics are not team strong points. Camille is the only one of us who knows more french than 'bon voyage'. Haven't eaten any snails. The snow is here, wish you were beautiful.

World Cup Shorts...

Who the hell is Espen Bjervig? Well, last season he sneaked into the top 30 in World Cup twice, in classic races at the end of the season, a few weeks back he pulled a second place from nowhere in the classic pursuit in Toblach, and now he is the proud owner of a world cup gold medal. Not only that, but he won the 15km classic in Otepaa by nearly 40 seconds, and only Mika Myllalae within one minute. Five Norwegians in the top seven, strangely enough the race was held in rainy weather, conditions in which norwegians have dominated classic races over the last few years. Bente Martinsen made it a Norwegian double with a 32 second victory in the women's 10km, ahead of Sweden's Antonina Ordina (Kangaroo Hoppet winner 1994).

Rund um Neukirch, Alpen Cup January 4, 1999
(no Australians)
Women 5km Classic
1    16.38.5    Viola Bauer    GER
2    16.43.4    Ramona Roth    GER
3    16.44.8    Constance Blum    GER
4    16.49.6    Evi Sachenbacher    GER
5    16.50.6    Sigrid Wille    GER
6    16.56.5    Manuela Henkel    GER
7    17.00.0    Annick Pierrel    FRA
8    17.00.7    Antje Windis    GER
9    17.02.1    Claudia Kunzel    GER
10    17.06.7    Renate Roider    AUT
First Swiss, 11th, Andrea Huber

Men 15km Classic
1    44.08.4    Rene Sommerfeldt    GER
2    44.17.4    Michael Hoffmann    GER
3    44.24.7    Jorge Ribo    SPA
4    44.49.8    Tobias Angerer    GER
5    44.53.6    Christian Stolz    SUI
6    45.01.6    Torald Rein    GER
7    45.09.7    Marek Rein    GER
8    45.21.9    Uwe Bellmann    GER
9    45.26.1    Uli Wagner    GER
10    45.28.5    Tobias Schworer    GER
First French, 11th, Lillian Gaillard
First Italian, 13th, Pietro Broggini
First Austrian 16th, Klaus Truppe

December 30 - The Mile High New Year's Club???

Tomorrow the team departs for Europe and stage two of season 98/99. Yes, we're going one way and New Year's Eve is going the other. The team will be joined in Geneva by Tim Greville and Pip Daley, Camille's coach and manager, who have organised the next month of racing and training. The race schedule for the next month goes roughly as follows:

Jan 9-10    Alpen Cup (middle Europe Continental Cup), Argentiere, France
Jan 16-17    Swiss Championships, Silvaplana, Switzerland
Jan 22-24    (Finn and Ben) Millegrobbe (3by30km), Lavorone, Italy
Jan 24   (Camille) Dolomitenlauf, Lienz, Austria
Jan 30-31    Alpen Cup, Virgen, Austria

Then... Who knows what might happen next so tune in at the end of the month. There's rumors of training with the Italian team, maybe a Worldloppet, World Championships in Ramsau, the lure of loppets in Sweden and the Vasa at the start of March.

What's been going on over the last week and half? Quite a lot of training and some great christmas dinners, a couple of race paces for the guys, and two litres of coke for 99 cents.  We did try to go ice skating one day but woosed out in the minus 20 windy conditions.

The race paces, a 10km skate on the 27th and a 10km classic this morning, the skate with top Canadian junior Stefan Kuhn. Skate: Starting 10 seconds apart, Ben rolled past Finn and Stefan after about 4km and drove the train for the last lap. But in the last 500m Stefan made his move and held off both Ben and Finn in the sprint by a couple of metres.Classic: Ben and Finn started together, Finn tried a couple of times to break away and finally managed it with about a km to go and finished about 6 seconds ahead. So if we add the two times together, Ben comes out 4 seconds in front, but who's counting and anyway competition is good for you.

So far the trip has not been successful in the pursuit of low FIS points. However, with a month of solid training on snow now behind us, the real testing ground to see whether we are ready for the World Championships will come in the Alpen Cup races in Europe.

Thanks must go to all residents of Canmore for making us welcome here and the stay comfortable and enjoyable. In particular, thanks to the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge and all the staff for great accommodation and service, all the folks at the Bill Warren Training Centre, and John Gallagher, Dale Swanson and the crew at Trailsports for all sorts of little things here and there. Special mention also to the Rocky Mountain Bagel Company for hot chocolates you could swim in, sorry to devotees of the Coffee Mine.

December 19 - Mad dogs and Australians

Cold temperatures and strong winds pretty much destroyed the first of the two continental cup races in Spokane, Washington. Minus 20 degrees celcius with added wind chill forced the jury to first postpone the classic races and then declare them non FIS sanctioned events. Competitors were told they could race if they wanted to but there would be no FIS points and it would not be a Continental Cup. In addition, the men's race was reduced to 5km and changed to a mass start (after officials froze during the women's race).

The day before, Ben Derrick was tossing up whether to skip the classic race and rest up for the skate on Sunday. However, someone in the corner of the day shelter whispered "You'd have to be pretty tough to ski out there", and then Ben said okay he didn't want to be seen as a weaky and would ski it at 80% just to save face.

The field size was reduced considerably as many skiers, including the entire Canadian team, elected not to start. Most people who did race did so with warm-up gear on and lots of head gear.

Initially in the confusion of changed start times and huddling in the day shelter Camille missed her start by a couple of minutes, but was given a new time. Surprisingly enough, Camille expressed a passion  for the cold conditions, finishing in 3rd place, 38 seconds behind Laura McCabe, a member of the 1998 US Winter Olympic team.

In the mass start of the men's race, a few skiers were caught up as they jostled for the single classic track, and somehow Finn slipped to the front and led for the first couple of km's.  He even broke away, but the gap was quickly bridged by Rob Whitney of the USA, who sat for not very long then overtook and pulled steadily away as the course switchbacked up to the highest point. Whitney went on to win comfortably, with Finn hanging on for second place, 30 seconds behind. Ben at his leisurely pace cruised in for 8th.

Conditions were forecast to be even colder the next day. At the team captains meeting it was unanimously decided to cancel the skating races the next day. Given the condition of the Australian dollar against the US, it has proven quite an expensive little jaunt down here, only to have both FIS races cancelled. The team now returns to Canmore for the Christmas break. We may ski some regional races if there's any on, otherwise it's back to base training, christmas tree hunting and egg nog (What the heck is egg nog anyway?).

December 16 - Another couple of laps please
An afternoon race left the team hanging round with nothing to do all morning, so in an effort to get himself fired up and angry for the race, Ben tried to lose as many card and computer games as he possibly could. Seeing that he needed the psych-up, we just had to help him out.
Milaine Theriault of Canada won the women's 5km in 14:30.7 just ahead of  Nancy Dassie, with Jamie Fortier making it a Canadian trifecta. Camille finished in 14th place, 1:46 behind, a creditable performance for Camille in a short fast race.

In the men's 10km skate John Bauer of the USA won his second race in a row, starting 30 seconds behind Candian Donald Farley and nearly catching him on the line. However Farley was tipped out by half a second for second place by US junior star Rob Whitney. Ben finished in 17th place, just over 2 minutes behind, with Finn 20th place another 18 seconds back.

Ben felt good and was quite happy with his race, though says there is still better yet to come and expressed preference for a 30km. Similarly Camille found it tough to get going over 5km. Finn on the other hand would have prefered 5km.

There's a dinner here tonight for all the skiers so it's time to shave off the three week growth, don the cologne and put the only shirt on to impress all the junior girls.

Next races Spokane this weekend.

Kimberley Continental Cup
December 16 1998
Full results soon on the Canadian X-C Website
Men 10km Skate
1    25:05.8    John Bauer    USA
2    25:31.7    Rob Whitney    USA
3    25:32.3    Donald Farley    CAN
4    25:43.4    Chris Blanchard    CAN
5    25:48.2    Jean Paquet    CAN
6    25:54.0    Steve Cyr    CAN
7    25:57.2    Carl Svenson    USA
8    26:04.7    Scott Loomis    USA
9    26:16.1    Andrea Paluselli    ITA
10    26:23.4    Kris Freeman    USA
11    26:26.3    Robin McKeever    CAN
12    26:29.0    Patrick Weaver    USA
13    26:29.3    Renato Pasini    ITA
14    26:45.4    Ivan Margaroli    ITA
15    26:47.0    Guido Visser    CAN

17    27:09.1    Ben Derrick    AUS
20    27:27.4    Finn Marsland    AUS

48 men in start

Women 5km Skate
1    14:30.2    Milaine Theriault    CAN
2    14:42.2    Nancy Dassie    CAN
3    14:48.3    Jamie Fortier    CAN
4    14:57.5    Jen Douglas    USA
5    15:28.1    Wendy Wagner    USA
6    15:29.1    Tasha Beckerman    CAN
7    15:39.6    Natalie Ward    USA
8    16:06.4    Sarah Peters    CAN
9    16:06.6    Sarah Renner    CAN
10    16:07.1    Rhonda Sandau    CAN
11    16:09.7    Shayla Swanson    CAN
12    16:10.1    Shannon Dikkema    CAN
13    16:14.5    Kelly McCann    USA
14    16:16.6    Camille Melvey    AUS

20 women in start

World Cup Shorts?
What, you think we have nothing better to to than to look up results and news from the World Cup? We'll, we don't, but internet access is only occasional and besides XCskiworld gets most of the goss before us anyway. Another time perhaps.

December 12 - Promising start and clumsy finish
Ben Derrick opened his Continental Cup account with a solid performance in the 20km skating race today. Ben finished 15th in a strong field, 4 minutes and 16 seconds behind runaway winner John Bauer of the USA. The result could have been better. Ben had tucked in behind second placed Donald Farley at the 16km mark, and took a superman-style fall dodging to avoid Farley's pole when he stumbled.
"My skis were running well and I was confident of being able to stay with Farley for the rest of the race (which was mostly downhill)," said Ben. "But even apart from the fall, I know I can ski faster than this."

Finn Marsland finished in 38th place with an uninspiring performance. He did however cause much excitement at the finish by catching an edge and skiing straight into the finish pole, kicking over the timing equipment in the process. "In my fatigued dillusional state I thought if I somehow disabled the timing system they would have to run the race again. With hindsight I guess I just looked stupid."

Camille Melvey turned in a better performance today in the 10km skate, finishing in 21st place, just over four minutes behind Jen Douglas from the USA.

The Continental Cup series moves now to Kimberley in British Columbia. It may be difficult to send reports from there but we'll do our best. There was a World Cup today in Toblach, but we have no results here yet.

Canmore Continental Cup
December 12 1998
Again, FIS points are unknown at this stage
Men 20km Skate
1    54:04.3    John Bauer    USA
2    54:58.3    Donald Farley    CAN
3    55:04.3    Chris Blanchard    CAN
4    55:45.4    Steve Cyr    CAN
5    56:14.4    Andrea Paluselli    ITA
6    56:23.6    Rob Whitney    USA
7    56:30.0    Jean Paquet    CAN
8    56:38.1    Christopher Jeffries    CAN
9    56:45.8    Carl Svenson    USA
10    56:54.1    Guido Visser    CAN
11    56:56.3    Pat Weaver    USA
12    57:02.7    Robin McKeever    USA
13    57:25.6    Scott Loomis    USA
14    57:46.8    Ivan Margaroli    ITA
15    58:21.1    Ben Derrick    AUS

38    1:00:49.8    Finn Marsland    AUS

103 in start

Women 10km Skate
1    30:47.5    Jen Douglas    USA
2    31:05.2    Jaime Fortier    CAN
3    31:17.0    Milaine Theriault    CAN
4    31:29.4    Nancy Dassie    CAN
5    31:41.8    Rebecca Quinn    USA
6    32:02.4    Amanda Fortier    CAN
7    32:27.2    Marie-Odile Raymond    CAN
8    32:55.2    Wendy Wagner    USA
9    33:11.2    Marie-Helene Martin    CAN
10    33:11.3    Marta Green    CAN

21    34:52.1    Camille Melvey    AUS

60 in start

December 11 - Continental Cup Quotes

Some thoughts on the first Continental Cup races from the team:

Finn Marsland: "When we decided at a fairly late stage to come over and do the December Continental Cup races in North America (which wouldn't have been possible at all without support from Carl Melvey), I didn't really have enough training behind me in September and October to expect to do well early on. My plan was to train through these races and try to come up into form in mid-to-late January in Europe. However, when you start racing it's hard to keep these things in perspective. You know you haven't done the work but you still want to do well. I'm disappointed with this first result. I started okay but didn't keep good form up the hills in the second half of the race."

Camille Melvey:

"And it came to pass that I began to slip;
That I was unable to set my wax properly;
But I must persist and find the strength to continue on;
That I may finish with dignity;
And Behold;
And I say unto you - give me the strength;
And the wisdom; That I will ski this hill;
And ski it according to plan."

Ben Derrick: "They say I'm a weakie for not doing the first race, but we'll see tomorrow."

Tomorrow in the Continental Cup, 20km skate for men and 10km skate for women.

Canmore Continental Cup
December 11 1998
Full Results should be posted soon on the Canadian X-C Website: At this stage FIS points are unknown.
Men 10km classic
1    28:09.0    Donald Farley    CAN
2    28:27.5    Andrea Paluselli     ITA
3    28:39.2    Chris Blanchard    CAN
4    28:40.0    Renato Pasini    ITA
5    29:00.4    Robin McKeever    CAN
6    29:06.5    Robert Whitney    USA
7    29:38.2    Phil Villeneuve    CAN
8    29:39.9    Patrick Weaver    USA
9    29:47.1    George Grey    CAN
10    29:48.5    Ivan Margarolli    ITA
11    29:52.8    John Bauer    USA
12    30:20.2    Carl Svenson    USA
13    30:20.8    Stephan Kuhn    CAN
14    30:41.8    Kris Freeman    USA
15    30:44.2    Scott Loomis    USA

19    30:54.7    Finn Marsland    AUS
99 skiers in start

Women 5km Classic
1    16:11.3    Milaine Theriault    CAN
2    16:30.8    Wendy Wagner    USA
3    16:43.3    Rebecca Quinn    USA
4    17:01.0    Jaime Fortier    CAN
5    17:02.0    Marie-Odile Raymond    CAN
6    17:05.4    Nancy Dassie    CAN
7    17:11.9    Amanda Fortier    CAN
8    17:30.7    Christa Case    USA
9    17:34.4    Marie-Helene Martin    CAN
10    17:40.6    Jen Douglas    USA

25    18:46.8    Camille Melvey    AUS
62 skiers in start

World Cup Very Shorts
Action from the World Cup Knockout Sprints in Milan: Sweden claims another World Cup victory. Matthias Fredrickson won in the final ahead of Peter Schlickenreider from Germany, with Matthias's younger brother Tobias taking thrid ahead of Norwegian Odd-Bjorn Hjelmeseth. It seems controversy may have surrounded the sprints as some of the men were eliminated when they finished a lap too early - including Schlickenreider in the final.

Norwegian Anita Moen-Guidon won the women's final ahead of Slovenian sprint specialist Andreja Mali, with Bente Martinsen third. Canadian Beckie Scott was knocked out in the 2nd round by Moen-Guidon, and took 9th place by virtue of having the fourth fastest qualifying time.

December 6 - The race circus begins
What's the number one rule to remember for ski racing? The number one rule is - no hold on, actually it is don't forget your skis or boots. Okay, or poles. The number two rule is - well skiing fast is pretty important, also good wax, okay dress appropriately, colour coordinate of course, and wear clean underwear in case you have an accident. Anyway, you should always ensure you know the course. In fairness to Ben and Camille, they were not the only ones to ski the wrong way, and the women's course was not marked very well. As so many skiers got lost, or for some other reason, the pursuit race in the afternoon was changed to a 15s interval start. Some words of advice for 15 second interval starts; Watch out as numbers come up pretty quickly and they may not let you take a flying start.

Bow Corridor Regional Race - Canmore, Dec 6.
Men 7.5km Classic
1    17:00.3    D.Farley    CAN
2    17:54.4    R.McKeever    CAN
3    18:03.9    P.Villeneuve    CAN
4    18:35.7    F.Marsland    AUS
5    18:37.4    G.Bond    CAN
6    18:44.2    G.Mclean    CAN
7    18:53.5    J.Paquet    CAN
8    19:02.5    A.Kates    CAN
9    19:06.6    D.Vachon    CAN
10    19:08.6    B.Derrick    AUS (Ben skied a little bit extra, losing maybe 30 seconds)
21 in start

Women 5km Classic
1    13:08.0    M.Theriault
2    13:48.0    J.Fortier
3    17:16.1    T.Betcherman
4    18:20.0    K.Zidek
5    18:55.5    S.Dominik

Camille: 20:38,9
(Camille went the wrong way, stopped, and eventually came back to find someone putting flags in.)

Men 7.5km Skate
1    22:06.9    D.Farley    CAN
2    22:41.2    R.McKeever    CAN
3    23.01.5    P.Villeneuve    CAN
4    23:09.4    B.Derrick    AUS
5    23:32.3    G.Bond    CAN
6    23:46.3    G.Mclean    CAN
7    23:54.5    F.Marsland    AUS
14 in start

Women 5km Skate
1    15:04.9    M.Theriault    CAN
2    15:55.6    T.Betcherman    CAN
3    17:02.4    K.Davies    CAN
4    17:14.5    C.Melvey    AUS
5    17:49.4    J.Thompson    CAN

Just to top off the excitement, Finn missed his start in the skate by maybe 5 seconds, and Ben fell in the finishing straight and pulled the grip off his pole. Just lucky we got all this stuff out of our systems in this regional race and will be ready to go into professional mode in the Continental Cup races starting on Friday.

As an added bonus this report, here's a peek at BBD's first week of training in Canmore.

December 3 - Feet up in Canmore
The team is well settled now at the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge in Canmore. Snow has been falling every couple of days since we arrived and now the skiing is pretty good. There was a low-key sprint relay event last night and Camille won a pizza. There's no doubt here that Australian skiers have been based here before. Every second person you meet asks what Sean Melbourne or Cameron Morten are doing, and everyone here must know by now that Paul Murray is surfing and mountain biking over the summer.

The Canadian Team has just returned to town after races in Silverstar on the weekend (classic and skate results). For Aussies with past connections in Canada, the Canadian Head Coach is now Dave Wood, and the Junior Coach is Alain Parent (Alain was coach of the Yukon Ski Team which visited  Australia in 1994.). Canada now has a pretty young team, especially after deciding to overlook the top two guys, Donald Farley and Chris Blanchard, for team selection. Both Farley and Blanchard are still racing and based out of Canmore, but now supported by personal sponsors. Blanchard spent the summer racing mountain bikes and is now with the "factory" Rossignol team, and rumor has it that Farley has been training harder than ever and is psyched up to let his results do the talking.

World Cup Shorts (very)
Well how can we report on World Cup, we're in Canada. Just about everything here was found on the net somewhere. For a slightly more comprehensive summary, try XCskiworld. In the women's opening 5km skate in Muonio, Czech Katarina Neumannova edged out Italian Stephania Belmondo by half a second. As usual there was a handful of Russians in the top ten, including former biathlete Anfisa Reztsova in 5th place. It must be all the go for biathletes to swap to cross country as Norwegian star Ole Einar Bjorndalen was also prominant in the men's field. Who would have picked it except for half of Sweden, Per Elofsson won the men's opening 10km skate a full 15 seconds ahead of the Bjorn Daehlie. Elofsson cranked last season with a podium finish in his first year as a senior, now it looks like there's no stopping him. To top it off, he also anchored home the relay the next day, making up over 50 seconds on Hetland and outsprinting the Norwegian to the line. Per is "The Man". Also of note in the top 10, first year senior Martin Koukal from the Czech republic took 7th place. A man to watch.

That's about it for now, hopefully soon we'll get the goss on the Australian Junior Team and their plans in Europe. There's a regional race on this Sunday in Canmore, 2 by 5km pursuit for women and 2 by 7.5km pursuit for men. We don't know yet how long in between the two races, but it should be fun and most of the Canadian team will be racing. Being the first race it will probably hurt too.

November 26 - Last Minute Panic
Ooh yeah, the plane leaves in a day and a half and the team plans are not even on the website yet. Don't worry about the international drivers licence or travel waxing the skis, get the computer ready for updates on the road. If everything goes well, this report page should be happening in a week or so. Relax, the first races are not until the 11th of December in Canmore - ok World Cup will have already started and assorted races here and there will be happening, so if you're really desperate try XCskiworld's ski news section.

Stage one of the Australian team plan consists of Camille Melvey, Ben Derrick and Finn Marsland heading to Canmore in Canada in preparation for some North American Continental Cup races. There'll also be junior team heading to Pontresina in Switzerland, but more of that later. With luck the laptop will be firing and reports will be coming in.

To contact the team on the road, try the following addresses:

cmelvey@aol.com (not accessible while in North America)



Okay, time to start packing.

(Oh by the way, Beckie Scott from the Canadian team is emailing reports to trailsports, there's also a good interview on XCskiworld)


XC is the official website of the Skiing Australia Cross Country Committee. It is produced with the assistance of the Australian Sports Commission, and the Kangaroo Hoppet. The editor can be contacted via hoppet@netc.net.au.