At the recent AUSXC Cocktail Night in October SSA CEO Michael Kennedy announced a special allocation of $30,000 as Pyeongchang campaign funding. Now with the racing season about to begin the Australian Team is set to have unprecedented support in lead-in to the Winter Olympics.
“With the prospect of additional campaign funding from SSA we quickly identified physio and waxing support on World Cup as our main priorities,” said SSA XC Head Coach Valerio Leccardi. “Last season we rarely had more than two coaches or techs on World Cup, and we only had physio support at the World Championships.”
Randy Gibbs from the USA is now set to join the team as head wax technician for two periods of World Cup racing in December and January. Gibbs was with the Australian Team at the 2017 World Championship and was already lined up for Pyeongchang. Joining Gibbs and the Australian Team for the first time is Gus Kaeding, who was hand-picked by Gibbs after Bryan Cook who waxed for the team last season wasn’t available due to new work commitments with Salomon.
“Randy brings so much experience and confidence to the team,” said Phil Bellingham, who first had race support from Gibbs at the 2015 Winter Universiade where he and team-mate Jessica Yeaton both finished 8th in the Sprint. “He is also a really fun and positive guy to have around, his easy-going attitude means we all get along with him really well.” Bellingham’s comments were echoed by Yeaton: “Randy takes a lot of the stress out of racing, as I am always confident that I’ll have great skis even when the conditions are tricky.”
On the physiotherapy side, Ben Bond is set for his first international tour with the XC team after recently signing on with the OWIA Medical Service network. Bond was introduced to the team by long-term physiotherapy coordinator Tim Retchford several years back, and has been screening and treating athletes on domestic camps primarily on a voluntary basis.
“The last time we had physio support overseas for any extended period apart from the Olympics or World Champs was with Tim Retchford back in 2010,” said SSA XC Program Director Finn Marsland. “Ben has been on international tours with cycling teams, but this will be first time with us. The athletes know him well from camps in Australia and are super excited to have him with us on the circuit.”
Bond will be at all the December and January World Cups together with Gibbs, Kaeding and Leccardi, including the final weeks before the team flies to Pyeongchang. The final piece in the Olympic waxing team, Paul Moore from Canada, will join the team directly in Korea.