The SSA Cross Country Committee is pleased to announce the official National Teams for 2015/2016. A total of 23 athletes have have accepted invitations to join the World Cup, Continental Cup, U23 and Junior Teams. Major competitions in the coming season include the 2015/2016 World Cup series, the 2016 World Junior/U23 Championship in Romania, and the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Norway.
World Cup Team
– Phillip Bellingham, 24 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Callum Watson, 26 (NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Jessica Yeaton, 24 (WA, APU Ski Club)
Continental Cup Team
– Paul Kovacs, 25 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Aimee Watson, 28 (NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Jackson Bursill, 22 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Nick Montgomery, 22 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Alasdair Tutt, 22 (ACT, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Casey Wright, 20 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Stella Ajani, 18 (VIC, Team Ivanhoe)
– Lilly Boland, 16 (NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Matthew Bull, 17 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Liam Burton, 17 (ACT, Cooma Ski Club)
– Finlay Clarke, 17, (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Seve de Campo, 17 (VIC, Ski Club of Victoria)
– Nelle Forster-Berghuis, 16 (ACT, ACTXC)
– Gabrielle Hawkins, 17 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Ella Jackson, 18 (VIC, Victorian Junior Squad)
– Damon Morton, 19 (VIC)
– Darcie Morton, 15 (VIC, Livigno Sports Club)
– Katerina Paul, 19 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Hamish Roberts, 19 (ACT, NSWXC/ACTXC)
– Abe Wright, 19 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
Three athletes are on the World Cup Team, with Callum Watson joining the provisionally named athletes Phillip Bellingham and Jessica Yeaton. Bellingham will compete in the most World Cups this winter, targeting Freestyle Sprints with the aim of breaking into the top 30 and racing in the finals. Yeaton will race predominantly on the US SuperTour, building towards the Canadian World Cup Tour in March. Watson will race in Sweden in the first half of the season before targeting World Cups in February then the Canadian World Cup Tour.
Watson withdrew from a number of races in the 2014-2015 season while on the come-back from a punctured lung in 2014. In selecting him back into the World Cup Team the Selection Committee considered Watson’s results during the 2015 Australian winter and were satisfied that he had returned to competing at the required performance level.
Some athletes on the Continental Cup and U23 Teams will also have the opportunity to start some World Cups, including Paul Kovacs who is on a similar schedule to Yeaton and aiming for the Canada Tour, and Jackson Bursill who will join Bellingham for the Sprint and Team Sprint World Cup in Slovenia as part of his preparation for the 2016 World U23 Championship in Romania.
A record 14 athletes are on the Australian Junior Team, headed up by Kat Paul who competed at the 2015 World Junior Championship and is already A-qualified for the 2016 World Junior Championship in Romania. A number of other juniors are B-qualified, with more opportunities to qualify up until February 7. From within the Junior Team under 18 athletes Lilly Boland and Liam Burton are nominated to represent Australia at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Norway in February.
Unfortunately junior Abe Wright who was already B-qualified for Romania will be unable to attend due to a recent mountain biking accident that saw him break both wrists and a collarbone. Wright’s recovery plan will see him building back towards the 2016 Australian winter.
The first event of the 2015/2016 season for Australians is this weekend November 21/22, where Bellingham will race in the Swedish season opener in Bruksvallarna. The Junior Team has one last dryland training camp coming up at the Falls Creek National Training Centre in December, with the official junior tour beginning in early January.
Progress throughout the international season can be followed on the AUSXC website and also via team/athlete Twitter updates and athlete blogs. Donations to the team can be made via the XC Towards 2018 campaign.