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Australian Team Reports 1999/2000
Team News
Program Summary  - Team Results - World News
The Canadian Section
(Up until Dec 31)
Jan 11 - Not all Honey
Jan 20 -Ich Lieber Lebkuchen
Jan 26 - Welcome to the Big Time
Feb 4 - The Lull after the Storm
Feb 7 - And Then There Were Two
Feb 10 - Four Seasons in Three Days
Feb 15 - Pre-Transjurassienne
Feb 17 - Dear Ski-Friends
Feb 21 - Big Benny is Back!
Feb 22 - On the Boost

February 22 - On the Boost

 Excerpts of an email from Ben Derrick after the Keskinada:

We had elite sprints the day before in downtown Ottawa. Quite a big crowd and a sensational day. I qualified 5th, only about 1 sec off 2nd. Anyway to tell the story exactly how it was, I got knocked out in the first round by Tony Ropenen. I got beaten by a COACH!!! Bugger that. Next day I felt shit and it showed! At about the 3km point Robin and Guido Visser made the kick and I got spat so easily. Very depressing. Felt crap and was only just hanging on to the 5th-8th place pack. Then we slowed down a little after about 10km and got caught by about another 7 skiers. The pace picked up a bit and I was getting spat on all the hills. So at the 30km mark I was just hanging onto 15th place about 4mins off the lead and feeling crap. Then a funny thing happened. The first of two risks paid off. I waxed with Star F1 powder which made my skis really suck at the start (most people went with low flour), but it started to snow during the race and with about 18km to go my skis were running pretty well. So I went for it and started picking people off. A measure off how much on the boost I was is that nobody was able to stay with me for more than a couple of skates before getting dropped. Then at about 10km to go my second risk paid off. Instead of carrying a water bottle I was using insulated bum bag bottle which takes ages to get a drink from but it meant that at 40km I had liquid Coke. Sweet Coke....... Anyway I was really on the charge now and at about 7km I got a sniff of the podium. I blew past Guido at 43km and Chris Jeffries soon after. That poor bastard hit the wall harder than I have ever seen. I was now in second place and cranking, but unfortunately I ran out of track before I could get to Robin. But hey 2nd in a Worldloppet race I will take

So I am pretty darn happy at the moment. I also have a plane to catch this afternoon, so I hope that you are enjoying yourself, and remember that the Vasaloppet is in early March.

Cheers BBD

February 21 - Big Benny is Back!

News just through from Canada - Ben Derrick took second place in the Keskinada, Canada's Worldloppet race, held yesterday. This is Australia's best result in a Worldloppet event outside Australia. No report yet from Ben on his best international result. Men's 50km Results...

Meanwhile at the Transjurassienne in France, the combined French Worldloppet race and World Cup, Camille Melvey put in a gutsy performance in tough conditions. With snow falling constantly before the race and during most of it, the track was not fast and the field spread out considerably after the first few packs of World Cup skiers. Camille finished in 52nd, a pretty good place result given the caliber of the field, however with the conditions as they were it was not a good race for FIS points. Camille's race was also hampered by problems with her elbow, which she will look into upon returning to Australia. Italian Stephania Belmondo won the women's 44km in nearly two and half hours, in a sprint from World Cup leader Kristina Smigun of Estonia. Russian Larissa Lazutina took third place just ahead of compatriot Svetlana Nageijkina, all four finishing within 11 seconds. Full results can be found either on the Transjurassiene site or from other World Cup sites.

The men's 73km event was won convincingly by Johann Muhlegg of Spain. At the 28km mark Swede Staffan Larsson led a pack of about 40 skiers, then Muhlegg broke the worldloppet skiers' party on the big climb out of Bois d'Amont. At the 42km stage Muhlegg led from fellow Spaniard Gutierrez (Jesus the Man!) with Per Elofsson (SWE), Stephan Kunz (LIE), and Pietro Piller Cotter(ITA) in close contact. However when Muhlegg picked up the pace again no-one could follow, and he went on to win in a time of 3:32:15.7, over four minutes clear of Elofsson. Gutierrez made it two Spaniards on the podium with his best ever World Cup result, Piller Cotter took fourth while Kunz met the wall and dropped to 10th.

Further news on the World Cup and FIS Marathon Cup Standings in the World News section.

So that is the end of the race season for Camille Melvey, and probably for Ben Derrick although with his Keskinada form maybe he won enough money to head down the American Birkebeiner next weekend. We'll wait to hear from BBD. Congratulations to Camille for another tough season on the road, no doubt after a short recuperation period she will be back on the roller skis around Sydney in preparation for another Australian winter.

February 17 - Dear Ski-Friends

A short explanation of the situation with World Cup points, FIS Marathon Cup points, and FIS points for the Transjurassiene, as explained by FIS cross country honcho Bengt Erik Bengtsson:

  • Only skiers with FIS registration, and qualified to ski World Cup (under 50 points for men, 75 for women), are eligible to receive World Cup points. So if Ben Derrick wins the race (he can't, he's in Canada) and Muhlegg is second, Muhlegg still receives 100 World Cup points.
  • Only skiers with a Worldloppet passport, or who obtain one before the Engadin Ski Marathon (March 11), can claim their points for the FIS Marathon Cup.
  • Only skiers with FIS registration will receive FIS points.
  • Though the race is a World Cup, it does not carry a zero FIS point penalty. The race penalty will be calculated from the first 5 skiers as in a normal FIS race (though there is no minimum).

  • February 15 Pre-Transjurassienne

    The start of the women's 46km Transjurassienne race is at Les Rousses in France, and it is raining steadily. It is supposed to turn to snow tomorrow, dump snow on Thursday, and if everything goes according to the organisers' plans it should clear up before Sunday. This is the first time that World Cup and Worldloppet races have come together, and it should prove to be interesting, particularly for some of the better Worldloppet skiers. Some of the World Cup skiers - Botvinov and Muhlegg in particular, also Theurl and most recently Nageikina - have proven themselves on the long distance circuit before. It has certainly been a while since there was a mass-start race with as many skiers of this caliber together on the starting line.

    For Camille Melvey it should be interesting to see what sort of FIS points she can achieve. She hasn't been in her best form of late, however with a race penalty of zero due to the World Cup [Not so! See above] and given the right conditions she could maybe push the 100 FIS point barrier. Training this week for Camille will be relatively light with some short intensity.

    Swiss Championships, Les Verrieres, February 13
    Women's 15km Mass-Start Freestyle
    Results were not available directly after the race and we haven't yet been forwarded them from the race organisers. It dumped snow throughout the race, temperature maybe just below zero, and after the race we just got out of there as quickly as possible. First place went to Natasha Leonardi-Cortesi ahead of Andrea Senteler, in a time of about 48 minutes 20 seconds. Camille finished about 5 minutes 50 seconds behind, she felt that she didn't really get going and that the race was too short. Unfortunately the Swiss skiers with the best FIS points, Albrecht and Huber, didn't start and so the FIS race penalty could be as high as 67. This would give Camille points just below 140.

    Received a vague email from Ben Derrick in Canada, here's an brief excerpt:

    Last week we drove up to Parry Sound and had a race. About 20km skate and I think I won it by about 15mins. Bit embarassing really, but at least it was a workout. Felt good. Pretty cruisy. Hope to hold form for next weekend.
    Next weekend being the Keskinada, Canada's Worldloppet race, 50km skate on Sunday. Following the Keskinada, having  run out of money, Ben will return to Australia to seek some gainful employment prior to the Australian season

    February 10 -  Four Seasons in Three Days

    Arriving at the tracks at Les Cernets on Tuesday it was plus five and raining steadily.The car was turned around and Camille went for a short run instead. Testing wax that afternoon straight Swix red klister was the go. The riller was pulled out in preparation for the next day. Wednesday morning it had frozen solid, Camille skied a lap to check out the course and do a couple of sprints, but it was barely worth it on the ice. Rode Mulitigrade klister worked well though, riller was put away.. That afternoon, it started dumping snow in huge flakes. Very hard to predict the conditions for the race today, so we waxed up two pairs of classic and two pairs of skating skis for opposite conditions. This morning, temparature just below zero, clear sky, warming up to plus 5 (maybe warmer mid afternoon), a little icy in the trees, softening at the top of the course in the sun(in the afternoon), sort of dryish but mixed up with the old snow underneath elsewhere. Despite all this, waxing actually wasn't that difficult (though thanks to Danish born Ober-Engadin coach John Max Ehrtner for testing early), Camille went with Rode purple klister covered with blue stick for the 5km classic in the morning, and Streamline over Star MB2 for the 5km skate in the afternoon.Sorry for the waxing info, but there's not that much else happening here.

    The women's one-day pursuit was fought out between Brigette Albrecht and Andrea Huber, both recently returned from the World Cup races in Norway. Albrecht snuck in by a second or so in the classic, and pulled away in the skate. Unfortunately for the race penalty, FIS points for the swiss women drop off rapidly after Huber and Albrecht, and the penalty will end up being just over 52.

    Camille skied reasonably well in the classic, and moved up a place in the pursuit, but is still lacking any real spark, any fire in her skiing. Her FIS points for the race will probably be over 140, not helped by the high penalty. The next few days Camille will continute to work on recovery, with a few sprints to try to kick start her motor.

    Swiss Championships, Les Verrieres, February 10
    Women's 5km/5km one-day pursuit
    1    30:05.5    Brigette Albrecht (15:23.7 classic;14:41.8 skate)
    2    30:21.8    Andrea Huber (15:25.6; 14:56.2)
    3    30:44.4    Natascia Leonardi Cortesi (15:51.7; 14:52.7)
    4    31:17.2    Sereina Mischol (16:03.5; 15:13.7)
    5    31:54.1    Flurina Bachmann (16:53.6; 15:00.5)

    30    34:34.6    Camille Melvey (18:07.8 - 31st, 16:26.8 - 28th)

    Men's 10km/10km one-day pursuit
    1    52:35.2    Reto Burgermeister (1st classic; 4th skate)
    2    52:56.3    Patrick Roelli (5th; 1st)
    3    52:57.7    Wilhelm Aschwanden (3rd; 2nd)
    4    53:10.2    Christian Stolz (2nd; 3rd)
    5    54:28.8    Dominik Berchtold (6th, 8th)

    For some World Cup results from the past week plus the Marcialonga, go to the World News section.

    February 7 -  And Then There Were Two

    Today the junior team - Matt O'Rourke, Katie Calder, Chris Darlington, Christie Dowling, and coach Nick Almoukov - drove off towards Munich and a flight to Australia tomorrow. There were rumours of a Rage Against The Machine concert tonight in Munich, however that definitely wasn't included in team budget.

    Some news through from Ben Derrick at the NORAM Continental Cup in Duntroon. No times available (No doubt available from XC Canada), however Ben placed 5th in the 10km freestyle, only 27 seconds behind race winner Robin Mc Keever. Here are some excerpts from Ben's email:

    Show me the money - part II. Yep right at the moment I have a huge $25 cheque sitting in my wallet waiting for me to cash it in and retire off the interest. But the good news is that I got it for coming 5th in the 10km free at the Duntroon CC. Robin was 1st then Chris Jeffries (who the hell is that?), Justin Freeman, Andrew Johnston then me, Shane Stevens, George Grey, Lee Chuchill. Pretty good race about 27sec behind RM and about 13 off JF. Anyway today was the 15km classical pusuit. I was really really not looking forward to this one! But I hung on for 8th. Unfortunatley no money for that so I guess that I will have to keep on skiing for a bit yet. Skis were a bit off today, but I actually skied quite well. Good to link up with Keebs[Brian Keeble, Australian Team Manager 1991-93, now semi-resident in Toronto]. He is like my personal manager and it is working out great although I think that I will have to kill him in about a week if he doesn't start driving a bit faster but I'm sure that the judge will understand. Hope all is well.
    Cheers  BD.
    Yesterday in the OPA Continental Cup (formerly Alpen Cup) Camille Melvey and Chris Darlington each skied 15km freestyle. Darlo wasn't 100% healthy after his cold and skied quite well considering. Camille didn't seem to be at her best, but still posted her best FIS point result in Europe this year. It is hard to say how this two week period at altitude has affected her, however she seems just a little flat. Camille will rest now a few days leading into the Swiss Championships, which produced some good results for her last season.

    OPA - Continental Cup, Pontresina, February 5/6
    Women 15km Freestyle Mass Start
    1    GER    39:23.7    Constanze Blum
    2    GER    39:24.0    Anke Reschwamm
    3    ITA    39:28.1    Antonella Confortolla
    4    ITA    39:31.9    Arianna Follis
    5    ITA    39:48.2    Lara Peyrot

    27    AUS    45:20.7    Camille Melvey FIS Points 132.38

    Men 30km Freestyle Mass Start
    1    GER    1:09:43.9    Janko Neuber
    2    ITA    1:09:44.6    Florian Kostner
    3    ITA    1:09.45.6    Klaus Mariotti

    Junior Men 15km Freestyle Mass Start
    1    GER    34:11.3    Ron Spanuth (World Junior Champion 10km)

    Under 18 Junior Men 15km Mass Start
    1    GER    35:46.9    Christian Seeger

    22    AUS    42:57.9    Chris Darlington

    The Swiss Championships begin on Tuesday in Les Verrieres with sprint races, however Camille will skip these races to concentrate on the longer distances.

    February 4 - The Lull after the Storm

    The Junior team has now rejoined Camille Melvey in Pontresina Switzerland, where there will be an Alpen Cup competition this weekend. It was a long drive out of Slovakia - departing 10am Strbske Pleso, arriving 12:30am Innsbruck, then a three hour drive to Pontresina the next morning. The stresses of the World Championships and travel have taken their toll - all four juniors are sick, and quarantined away in an apartment. Maybe the guys might race this weekend, however it's all over red rover for the junior girls. No, they are not going to die, it's all over for racing for this season. Okay, flash back to last week....

    World Junior Championships continued. Summary of Results
    The sprint races were very well run, with none of the collisions or controversy which have sometimes plagued the World Cup sprints. Katie and Christie moved up a couple more places compared to the 5km, finishing in 64th and 65th place respectively. Matt and Chris had been claiming the whole trip that they weren't sprinters, however Matt performed quite creditably to be in touch with the pack, 76th place, 16 seconds up to 53rd place. Chris was right, he is not a sprinter. The surprise performer in the sprint competition was the US team. All four girls qualified in the top 16, all four guys qualified with 3 in the top 6, and Chris Cook posting the fastest qualifying time. In the end, Kris Freeman finished 8th and Rebecca Quinn 7th. Is the start of a new era of sprinting for US skiing?

    The last races, the 15km and 30km classic, proved to be the toughest for the Australian skiers. Waxing conditions were difficult, snowing, sometimes dumping snow, around 0 to -1. In the 30km it cleared up for a while with the sun shining through, however gusts of wind would blow snow of the surrounding trees, sometimes you couldn't see 2 metres in front of you. Unfortunately, Katie and Christie didn't have enough grip in the 15km. Katie claimed to have the worst race of her life. Christie never wants to ski a 15km race again. Matt ,who had been struggling with increasing pain in his shins over the previous two weeks, pulled out of the 30km after about 20km. He was still feeling good where he could double pole, but as soon as he had to diagonal the pain in his legs was too much. Chris pulled out a incredible effort just to finish the race. On the whole, not a memorable day for Australian skiing.

    The relays were held in there somewhere, they were quite exciting to watch, with Sweden coming through on the last leg past Germany and Norway to take 2nd in the men's four by 10km behind Russia, and the Swedish girls establishing an early lead and holding off challenges from Norway and Russia to win the gold for the second year in a row.

    In the aftermath of this World Championships, there are a few questions to be posed and answered, including the future size of teams, selection standards and overseas preparation. In the meantime, put your hands together and congratulate Matt and Chris and Katie and Christie, it's not easy to travel away to the other side of the world for two months to compete against the best in the world in a sport that's alien to your own country.

    Swiss Cup, Silvaplana, January 29/30
    Meanwhile in Switzerland, Camille had been skiing up and down the Engadin adjusting to altitude and preparing for the Swiss Cup races in Silvaplana. Holed up in Hotel Julier, Camille was assisted by former Swiss team member Juerg Capol, now head of the Silvaplana "Kur- und Verkehrsverein".The results for the Swiss Cup races can be found via this website, however here is a short summary:

    Womens 5km Skate, January 29
    1    SUI    16:59.1    Brigitte Albrecht
    2    SUI    17:00.1    Andrea Senteler
    3    SUI    17:25.5    Andrea Huber

    15    AUS    19:20.1    Camille Melvey FIS points - Penalty(<60.5) plus 83.01
    26 skiers in start

    Women's 15km Classic, January 30
    1    SUI    39:58.4    Andrea Huber
    2    SUI    41:34.0    Laurence Rochat
    3    SUI    42:06.0    Nathalie Kessler

    13    AUS    44:32.9    Camille Melvey FIS points - 141.77
    19 skiers in start

    January 26 - Welcome to the Big Time

    The 2000 World Junior Championships in Strbske Pleso Slovakia opened on the 24th and the first races were yesterday. It was a tough opening for the Australian team. Christie Dowling and Katie Calder were 72nd and 73rd in the 5km skate, and Matt O'Rourke and Chris Darlington were 92nd and 94th in the10km skate.

    Most of the skiers were disappointed with their results - no-one was expecting to win, however we were hopeful that the other teams we have been comparing to throughout the trip - Austria and Canada - would be higher up the result list. Not sure if there are results on the web anywhere else, however here are some limited results.

    Christie Dowling finished the 5km quite strongly, however had problems getting going in the first km, which was realtively flat. After 1km she was already 24 seconds behind Katie and a long way off the first. With about a kilometre to go one of the USA skiers caught her from 2 minutes behind, and Christie hung with her all the way to the finish. Now we just have to work out how to get her ski fast from the start.

    Katie Calder never really came back from her illness in Canada a month ago. It has been a crash course of hard intervals and races since coming to Europe, however coming into the World Championships with only 3-4 weeks of healthy training was always going to be tough. During the last few weeks she has also had problems with her legs cramping, and just hasn't looked like the same skier from the Australian season..

    Matt O'Rourke and Chris Darlington felt that they didn't ski as well as they could ski, however considering that they have only been training seriously for about one year with Nick Almoukov, it is a credit that they have come as far as they have.

    There are three days now before the next race, sprints for the first time at a major championship. All skiers will ski a qualifying time trial, with 32 qualifying for the 4 person per heat knockout format. It will be a big task for any of the Australians to qualify for the finals, however the team is hopeful of placing a little higher in the time trial.

    More news later in the week.

    Deutchland Pokal, January 22/23, Friedenwieler Germany

    With heavy snow falls and poor visibility it took about 8 hours to drive from Ramsau to Friedenweiler near Freiburg, close to the French border. The race distances for Camille - a 1km freestyle sprint on the Saturday and a 5km freestyle on the Sunday. There were lots of teams present for the race, from Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, even Argentina, however most were junior teams and the senior fields contained mostly Germans. This meant that the FIS race penalty was probably not going to be that low.

    The sprint was always going to be tough for Camille as she is not a sprint specialist and only 8 skiers qualifying to the finals. Camille placed 11th in the 1km time trial, about 20 seconds off the pace. The 5km was more to Camille's taste, however a 10 or 15km would have been even better. Camille placed 8th in the women's senior field, just over two minutes behind the winner. Unfortunately we were unable to stay around after the race to get the official results with the FIS point penalty, however the race points without the penalty would be about 83. Possible penalty - somewhere between 60 and 80. Not fantastic points for Camille in her first FIS points race of 2000, however there are plenty of more opportunties coming up over the next few weeks.

    Women's 1km sprint
    1    Jana Richter
    2    Katje Hartmann 2:42.2 (fastest qualifying time)
    3    Steffi Volkel
    4    Gabi Waldau

    11 Camille Melvey 3:02.1
    14 in start, 8 qualifying for finals

    Women's 5km freestyle
    1    15:30.3    GER    Steffi Volkel
    2    15:31.1    GER    Gabi Waldau
    3    15:59.0    GER    Katje Hartmann
    4    16:42.2    RUS    Natalja Golyosa
    5    16:44.8    GER    Jana Richter

    8    17:39.2    AUS    Camille Melvey

    January 20 - Ich Lieber Lebkuchen

    Camille Melvey produced one of the best Australian results of the season so far with a solid performance in the International Koasalauf in St Johan Austria on January 16. Camille won the 21km classic event in a time of 1:14.28.What was more promising was that Austrian World Cup skier Renate Roider, who skied the 42km event, was only 3 and a half minutes ahead of Camille at the 21km mark. The winner of the men's 21km classic event was relay World Champion of 1999 Michail Botvinov.

    Camille also placed second in the mid race sprint, which included competitors from both the 21 and 42km events, which earned her another trip to podium at the prize ceremony and 1500 Austrian schillings. At the prize ceremony we ran into Pistol Pete Moysey from New Zealand, who is now resident in Austria very near to St Johan. For any interested in contacting Pete, his email address is: ski.moysey@tirol.com

    International Koasalauf, January 16

    21km Classic Women
    1    1:14.28    Camille Melvey (13th overall)

    42km Classic Women
    1    2:27.56    Renate Roider ( 1:11.58 at 21km)

    21km Classic Men
    1    1:00.58    Michal Botvinov

    42km Classic Men
    1    2:08.40    Gerhard Urain

    50km Skate Women
    1    2:21.05    Maria Theurl

    50km Skate Men
    1    2:09.31    Christian Hoffmann

    The same weekend the junior team was doing battle at the Austrian Junior Championships - report from Christie Dowling below...

    Austrian Junior Championships.
    Mitterbach, Austria
    Jan 15 & 16
    Report from Christie Dowling

    Travelling in Europe is always interesting and the trip from Ramsau to Mitterback was no exception.  Finn drove to the best of his amateur rally driver abilities and Nick tried to keep up in the van, which he managed to do quite well through the windy alpine roads.   We made good time and had reached our accomodation, “Gasthouse Klapper”, early that afternoon.  Nick, Finn and the boys managed to somehow wangle the best rooms, leaving Katie and Christie with no television, no carpet and a thermometer inside which read a chilly nine degrees.  Being the big tough girls that they are, Katie and Christie stuck it out under the proviso they get pick of the rooms at World Juniors.

    Gasthous Klapper was situated just a five minute drive away from the race site  The course was relatively flat, with two big hills at about the 2 and 4 km mark.  Snow was hard packed promising a quick race the next day.That afternoon  Katie, Christie, Matt and Chris all skied the course and tested various skis and were looking forward to the race.  Dinner that night was Austrian sausages wrapped in Austrian bacon with big Austrian potatoes and salad drowned in Austrian dressing.  And lots of it. Lucky us!

    The morning of the skate race (5km for girls, 10 for the boys) dawned sunny and clear.  There was a pretty small field of skiers, but they were the best from all the diferent clubs in Austria so it would be a tough race.  The girls race was especially close with the winner posting 13:37. Christie came in 6th (15:14) and Katie 8th (15:18) with only three seconds between, and both within 10 seconds of the girl who placed 5th.  Katie described her skate race as:
    “Entertaining.  I think I really impressed 3 Austrians when I took a corner wrong and almost took them out with me.  Hmmm...something positive....Okay apart from falling over and skiing technically poorly, the cardiovascular system is finally starting to work.”

    The guys had their first taste of big international competition and both held their own with Matt placing 18th and Chris 20th.  The racers went home to a big Austrian schnitzel each.

     The next day they woke up to a much whiter Mitterbach.  It had snowed lightly all night and was continuing to do so.  The conditions for waxing were not too bad and everyone had satisfactory grip wax for the race.  The interesting thing about this classic race was that it would be a pursuit.  Again 5km for the girls and 10 for the boys.  Due to the tight results of the day before both Katie and Christie had good starts and this made for an exciting race.  They skied most of the race together, working the hills well but were dissapointed when the girls they worked so hard to catch got away easily on the downhills.  Both Katie and Christie are now looking for a wax technician willing to work for lebkuchen.  The boys were much happier with their classic results, their percentage behind the winner improving from the day before.  When asked about his race Chris Darlington replied “It was pretty good, much better than the skating race and my new skis are good”.  This comes after our recent trip to the Fischer factory.

    That afternoon we did a record pack and made our way home to Ramsau.  Finn had called (he had left after the skate to go to St Johan with Camille for a race) and told us to go home the way we came, and not the way he had tried.  Somehow we managed to come home the way he told us not to, but thanks to Katie’s navagational skills (she and Finn could make a great rally team one day)  we made it back safe and sound.

    Austrian Junior Championships Results

    Girls 5km skate/5km classic pursuit

    1. Zehenter   13:37.8   16:02.4 (Overall place, name, skate time, classic time)
    2. Salfellner   14:12.7   17:04.8
    3. Pinter   14:23.0   17:12.3
    4. Pabst   15:07..5   17:05
    5.Walker   14:32.4   18.08.7
    6. Erler   15:15.0   17:32
    7.Calder   15:18    17:30.1
    8.Dowling   15:14    17:37
    9 Zinkl    15:19.5    DNS

    Boys 10km skate/10km classic pursuit

    1. Grabmayer    23:30    28:16 Overall place, name, skate time, classic time)
    2. Schwarzenbacher    24.12    28.39
    3. Pinter    23:50    29:13

    15. O'Rourke    27:26    35.32
    17. Darlington    28:20    37:34

    An unexpected event for the team this last week was the Dutch Championships. We ran into some Dutch team members who kindly extended us an invitation.Not all the team competed as it didn't fit in with everyone's training programs. There was no junior class, so everyone skied in the open events. Just for fun (?) the coaches skied the races as well.

    Dutch Championships
    Ramsau, Austria, January 17 and January 20
    Women's 10km Skate
    1    25:59.6    Elspeth Straub NED
    2    27:12.7    Camille Melvey
    3    27:53.9    Annemarie Straub NED
    4 in start

    Men's 15km Skate
    1    34:37.3    Erik van Leeuwen NED
    2    37:01.0    Finn Marsland
    3    37:01.1    Machiel Ittman NED
    4    37:08.7    Matt O'Rourke
    Nick Almoukov would have finished about 20s after Matt, but failed to cross the finish line
    25:38.0    Chris Darlington (10km only)
    14 in start

    Women's 5km Classic
    1    15:47.7    Camille Melvey
    2    15:53.2    Annemarie Straub NED
    3    16:45.1    Christie Dowling
    5 in start

    Men's 10km Classic
    1    27:40.0    Finn Marsland
    2    29:01.8    Gijsbrecht Brouwer NED
    3    29:42.6    Matt O'Rourke
    4    29:42.7    Machiel Ittman NED
    5    30:12.1    Nick Almoukov
    6    30:56.0    Chris Darlington
    14 in start

    So now it's almost goodbye to Ramsau. Tomorrow Camille and Finn head off to Germany for a FIS international and on Saturday the junior team drives off for Strbske Pleso, and the World Junior Championships. Finn will join the team in Slovakia on Monday, while Camille will start her altitude block in Silvaplana Switzerland.

    There was some better news at the end of the USA championships, with Ben Derrick placing 11th in the 50km and Belinda Phillips 16th in the 30km. No detailed report has come through from Ben yet though. Again, results most likely linked from John Downings XCskiworld website.

    Other news here is that the Dolomitenlauf, Austria's Worldlopped race had been moved to Ramsau due to warm temperatures and strong winds destroying the snow conditions in Lienz. Bye for now.

    January 11 - Not All Honey

    Welcome to the next stage of the team reports. Location middle Europe for the next month or so. We've just received some interesting news from North America. More details later.

    In Europe everything is ticking along without too many hitches. The World Junior team (Matt O'Rourke, Chris Darlington, Katie Calder, Christie Dowling, no particular order), support crew (Finn Marsland, Nick Almoukov, youngest to oldest) and Camille Melvey arrived in Munich on January 3, picked up a Peugeot van courtesy of the AIWS and delivery driver Jeannette Korten (Australian Alpine Ski Team), picked up another Peugeot (stationwagon) from an irate German (long story), and drove through to Ramsau in Austria. Okay, short detour in the station wagon to drop off Ms Korten to her team-mates in Axams. Many thanks to Heinz Pitzer, ski school owner/manager extraordinaire long time supporter of the Australian XC team who kindly arranged all the team's accommodation in Ramsau.

    Snow conditions here are very good, lots of touring tracks plus the race tracks from the 1999 World Championships. The first week took some adjusting to Austrian food, however now the team has a three story house with fully equipped kitchen to ourselves and we are cooking up a storm. There is a semi resident "babushka" who comes in regularly to berate us generally and to stack the dishwasher, she also agreed to do everyone's washing but after a day and a half we are still missing a couple of socks and a tracksuit top. She is 81 year's old and loves to talk, it is a pity that Finn and Katie's german is only good enough to hang on to maybe a quarter of the conversations.

    This weekend Nick will take the juniors to the Austrian junior championships in Mitterbach (~2-3 hrs drive towards Vienna), 5km skate and 5km classic pursuit for the girls, 10km skate and 10km classic pursuit for the guys. Finn and Camille will travel the opposite direction for the International Koasalauf. Last weekend the competition was the Tauernlauf, only half an hour away in Alternmarkt....

    January 8/9 - International Tauernlauf, Alternmarkt
    Some confusion over the age for juniors in Austria left all the juniors except Chris Darlington skiing unofficially in the junior 10km skate. [For the techos, 'Jugend' means under 18, and 'Junioren' means under 20] No real drama though, it was only for training. Matt and Christ fought it out for a while before Matt pulled away in the last few km to finish about 30 seconds ahead in what would have been 6th place, about a minute behind the first Austrian. Katie started quite fast, leading the eventual race winner in the first few km, before having problems with leg cramps and dropping back to finish about 20s behind Christie, who would have taken 2nd place (if she was a year younger).
    Mens 10km Skate Tauern Jugendlauf
    1    20.27.6    Christian Rainer AUT
    -    21.30.0    Matt O'Rourke
    6    22.00.9    Chris Darlington

    Womens 10km Skate Tauern Jugendlauf
    1    23.51.1    Marlene Kendler AUT
    -    24.46.1    Christie Dowling
    -    25.06.6    Katie Calder

    So that life wasn't all honey the junior guys skied the Tauernlauf 30km skate the next day, along with Camille, and Nick skiing to keep the guys honest. Camille skied a very solid race, fighting amongst lots of the men, and took 2nd place about 5 minutes behind the first woman, Karin Alice Bleimhuber of Germany. Matt had the best race of the Aussie guys, overtaking Nick about 5km before the finish and taking 24th place overall.Nick finished about a minute back in 27th place, and Chris took 35th place another couple of minutes behind. Nick paid the price of being under-dressed in cold conditions. No not that price, rather he was frozen all over and shook uncontrollably for half and hour after the race, lost skin off his nose, and feeling from his fingers and some toes..

    Men 30km Skate
    1    Alexander Marent AUT
    2    Christoph Sumann AUT
    24    Matt O'Rourke
    27    Nick Almoukov
    35    Chris Darlington

    Women 30km Skate
    1    Karin Alice Bleinhuber GER
    2    Camille Melvey
    3    Angelika Amon Haas AUT

    There was also a 60km skate, sorry no times, however there was a three way sprint at the end of the race, won by - yes the sprint king - Peter Schlickenreider of Germany.

    Okay now to the excitement from the USA championships. It's difficult to sum up the whole situation better than Ben Derrick, so here is an excerpt from his post 30km email....

    G'day, if you don't want to see some bad news then stop reading right now.

    Okay you're still with me so here goes....

    Sprint race Belinda 48th, me 67th. Unbelievable. Skied like a bastard.  More on that later. The eventual winner was Nash then Phil V ahead of Wadsworth swenson and two others. I wasn't really paying attention. We really sucked in that one. Maybe one of the reasons was we moved accomodation the day before. You know how we booked a really cheap hotel? Lets not do it again. Enough said I will tell you more when we get home. Now we are staying at the Homestead Resort. Very nice lets not talk about the cost but trust me on one thing that it was the right decision to move.

    Today was the 15/30km. Tell you what I would take the sprint race anyday. Belinda missed the wax by a mile. I'm talking really way too sticky. Tough conditions for waxing. She went with Rode yellow and ran most of the course. I guess she has now learned the lesson of Gelb. No results yet but she will be way down. My race was on a mixture of Toko multirange and orange klister, fresh snow tracks 100% glazed. really tricky waxing but I think mine was as good as anyone. Not that it mattered because I ripped a binding off a ski at the about the 4.5km mark. A DNF was not the result I was looking for. Many people pulled out. Heaps I think. Eventual winner was Farley I think Nash and C.Freeman were there somewhere. Anyway you can see results on the web somewhere.

    Okay more bad news. Belinda dropped the car off and they just gave us a quote for  the windscreen and damage to the skiboot (BP went under something a bit low on the way to the airport). Window $460 and Coffin $450 plus $63.70 tax. This has gone on your mastercard. You can sort it out with BP later. So be careful with your limit. Only other news is that at the moment I feel in shit form but Belinda feels okay. Will email you again on Thursday. Wish all you guys the best of luck and ski well.

    Cheers Ben

    Full results from the USA Championships can be found via the XC Skiworld Website

    Next report after the Austrian Junior Championships, with hopefully better news from the rest of the US Championships.

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

    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.