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Australian World Cup cross-country skier Callum Watson has withdrawn his entry from the 2011-2012 FIS Tour de Ski.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.


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