Revised World Cup Plans

Australian World Cup cross-country skier Callum Watson has withdrawn his entry from the 2011-2012 FIS Tour de Ski. The 22-year-old from Sydney had been overseas training for the event since the start of November, however a collision during an interval session in early December disrupted his preparation. The FIS Tour de Ski is the premier event of the cross-country skiing World Cup season, featuring nine World Cup events in eleven days over the New Year period. Watson finished the 2010-2011 Tour de Ski in 36th place, the first Australian to complete the grueling multi-stage event.

Though able to compete in some of the recent World Cup events since the collision, Watson was forced to pull out of the 30km freestyle in Davos due to breathing difficulties associated with bruising to his rib cage. Feeling somewhat disappointed with his World Cup performances in Rogla, Watson said, “Right now it feels like I just haven’t quite yet reached good form which doesn’t make sense considering some of the results I achieved in the early season in Alaska. It is still gradually getting better and it was significantly better than last weekend in Davos so hopefully it will resolve itself by the next lot of races so I can see what sort of shape I am actually in.”

Watson made the decision not to race the Tour after consultation with Australian Head Coach Finn Marsland. “It doesn’t make any sense for an athlete to start the Tour if they are not 100% healthy and in good racing form,” said Marsland. “Maybe Callum might be up to race shape by the time the tour starts, but we didn’t want to take the risk. We agreed the better plan would be to race at nation cup or European Cup level for a few weeks and aim to hit the World Cup races in January and February ready to fire.”

The new race schedule for Watson includes the Swiss Cup in Campra just before the New Year, together with other athletes from the U23 Australian Team. The likely return to the World Cup circuit will be in January at the city sprint in Milan. Fellow World Cup Team athlete Esther Bottomley will also compete there, along with rising first year senior Phil Bellingham, who just reached the qualifying standard in the European Cup in Austria last weekend.

World Cup Rogla, Slovenia

The trip to this event involved a rather interesting solo driving adventure for sole Aussie athlete Callum Watson, an amusing account of which can be read on Callum’s blog. But he did make it to the 15km mass start classic, managing to hold on to the pack for almost a third of the race, which held quite a cracking pace over the relatively short (for a mass start) 15km. Callum said the tracks on Saturday were very blown in with fresh snow, making it difficult to ski efficiently. Dropping off the pack with two other skiers, Callum experienced some pain and difficulty breathing during the middle of the race, an ongoing result of chest injuries sustained two weeks ago. However he managed to finish a respectable 11.6% off the pace in 64th place. This result is around the level that Callum achieved during the previous World Cup season, and while he was a little disappointed and frustrated, Callum hopes to be injury free for the next races.

Sunday’s freestyle sprint went smoothly, with Callum achieving a slightly better percentage result than a week earlier in Davos, finishing in 75th place. The field in Rogla was one of the smaller fields for a World Cup, providing a more condensed spread of skiers and tough competition for signing the list!

After making it back to Davos without any major hassles, Callum will join teammates for the Christmas break before the World Cup races pick up again in late December.

Bellingham Breaks Through

The weekend saw some impressive results from 20-year-old Mt Beauty athlete Phillip Bellingham, who achieved FIS points under 120 (twice in two days!) for the first time in his career. These results were a great improvement on Bellingham’s strong performance during the Australian season, particularly in the Australian Sprint Championship in August, and allow him the possibility of starting in some World Cup events. Continue reading

World Cup Season Kicks Off in Davos

Exactly three years after making his World Cup debut in Davos, Switzerland, Callum Watson lined up this weekend to kick off the European racing season for 2011/2012. Early preparations for the 22-year-old athlete began in November in Anchorage, Alaska, before moving to one of Europe’s only pieces of (artificial) snow in Davos. The lack of snow meant a short, overcrowded track was the only skiing option and an unfortunate collision with another skier a week ago meant a trip to the hospital for Watson, with suspected broken ribs. Luckily the ribs were only bruised, and determined to race this weekend, Watson got straight back in to the training, completing two interval sessions.

Continue reading

Watson Concussed One Week Out From World Cup

Australian World Cup Team member Callum Watson ended up in hospital on the weekend after a collision while training at Davos in Switzerland. Skiing on a congested loop of man-made snow Callum collided with another skier, scoring a blow to the head and some beat-up ribs in the process. Having ruled out more serious injuries at the hospital Watson is still hopeful of racing in the Davos World Cup this weekend.

More details can be read on Callum’s blog: http://callumwatsonxc.wordpress.com/
For other news from the Australian Team in Davos also head to Paul Kovacs’ Blog: http://pkovacsxc.wordpress.com/