Phil Bellingham has been Australia’s most prominent World Cup racer so far this season competing in two World Cups and in two stages of the Tour de Ski. His highest finishes were 51st in Davos and 54th in Toblach.
Phil arrived in Europe early and had a solid block of altitude training in Davos. Leading into his first World Cup in Davos he competed in a Swiss Cup race in the nearby Goms Valley. Here Phil finished 11th in the sprint after qualifying 8th with 61 FIS points and 14th in the 15km classic with 68 FIS points. These results would send most Australian athletes into a tail spin of excitement however for Phil these results are the normal.
Following these races Phil competed in his first World Cup for the season a skate sprint in Davos. Phil finished 51st out of 96 starters which is his 5th highest placing in a World Cup, 7th highest if you count stage World Cups.
Phil’s next major race was the first two stages of the 2017 Tour de Ski. Before this he competed in an OPA Cup which was held back in the Goms valley. It is here that Phil feels he had his top performance of the season so far: “The best races I had were the OPA Cups in Goms where I qualified top 30 in a classic sprint for the first time and backed it up with another top 20 in the 15km classic the next day.” Phil’s results here were 19th in the classic sprint after qualifying 22nd with 81 FIS points and 17th in 15km skate with 62 FIS points.
The Tour de Ski races where not a high point for Phil finishing 72nd in the first stage a sprint and 76th in second stage a 10km Classic. “I had a good training block after the OPA Cup races and probably over did it a bit in terms of being in good condition for the Tour de Ski. Hopefully the training pays off later in the season.”
The training block has started to pay off with Phil finishing 54th in the World Cup in Toblach last weekend and with a win in the Ostrava city sprint in the Czech republic this weekend. Phil will now get back on the World Cup circuit and follow it through to Falun.
Interesting statistics about Phil:
Phil has a total of 59 sub-100 FIS point results. The Australian record is Ben Sim with 68 sub 100 results, then Phil, then Paul Murray with 47 and Callum Watson with 46.
Phil has placed in the top 60 in a World Cup 13 times. The Australian record is held by Esther Bottomley with 35 sub 60 results, then Paul Murray with 21, then Phil with 13 followed by Ben Sim with 11.
Although not a complete measurement I think we can safely conclude that Phil Bellingham is now up there among the greatest Australian XC Skiers of the modern era.