Callum’s season began with his first ever sub 50 FIS point race in Goms Switzerland. To put this in context these are the lowest FIS points achieved by an Australian athlete in a distance race since Ben Sim in 2010. Since 2010 only Phil Bellingham and now Callum have achieved a sub 50 FIS point result. The event was a Middle European Continental Cup (OPA) Mass start skate. Callum was able to stick with the leading pack for much of the 15km on what is known as one of the toughest race courses in Switzerland. Within this pack of skiers were many World Cup athletes including World Cup medalist Maicol Rastelli and Fabio Pasini both of Italy.
“Skiing with these boys right up until the final kilometer and finishing 15th was one of the most exciting races of my life!” Callum commented, “It made me remember why I like ski racing and has given me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”The end results was 15th out of 72 with 47.19 FIS points.
Callum’s next best results came several weeks later in Ostersund, Sweden. Callum placed 5th in a competitive field made up of Swedes and Norwegians. This is his highest ever placing in the northern hemisphere as a senior athlete. (In 2009 Callum won two Junior Swiss Cup FIS races in Feutersoey)
“Placing 5th in Ostersund was just as rewarding as my OPA Cup result but was certainly tough going in the cold weather.” Said Callum, “To battle for top places in a competitive field along with the feeling of good form coming along gave me a lot of energy to fight for every second.” End result was 5th out 39 with 66.11 FIS points
Callum has raced at the top level of the sport for the last eight years. When asked what factors he believed contributed to the improvement at this point in his career he answered as followed:
“The major factors that have contributed towards my most recent results are certainly the hard work that I put in over summer. (Callum spent the European summer in Sweden as opposed to returning to race in Australia). It certainly wasn’t easy going with balancing an incredibly challenging training load and working in a restaurant most days between 10am and 3:30pm.
On many of these days, it felt like I would sit down only to eat! Fortunately I found good quality in basically every session. I had my coach Mattias here to help me with technique on many sessions along with having some of the fastest guys in Sweden to make me push harder than ever in interval sessions. Gauging progress is easy in that way. If you know you can keep up with those guys in more and more intervals, you know exactly what sort of gains you are making. That in its self is motivating. The long summer days also make it easier particularly when mixing with a tough workload. Training until 8pm at night is no worries when the sun is shining.”
As for the rest of the season Callum has now met the full World Cup qualification criteria and has been given start rights by the Australian coaches to race in the Ulricehamn, Falun and the Pyeong Chang World Cup as well as the Lahti World Championships.
You can stay up to date by liking Callum’s athlete page on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/callumwxc/?fref=ts)