World Cup Szklarska Poreba, Poland

Last weekend the World Cup circuit moved to Szklarska Poreba, Poland for two days of sprint and distance racing. Australia’s regular World Cup athletes, Callum Watson and Esther Bottomley both competed. This World Cup weekend also saw Bottomley’s distance World Cup debut on the second day of racing in the 10km classic.
In the freestyle sprint race, Bottomley finished 56th from 61 finishers. The women’s final was won by Sweden’s Ida Ingermarsdotter. In the men’s event, Watson finished in 70th in the qualification round. Canadian Devon Kershaw was the winner of the men’s final event. While Callum held his starting rank in the sprint, he said the race was an example of ‘small dog syndrome’: “I felt strong but got mauled by the big dogs!”
Making her distance World Cup debut, Bottomley finished in 60th place in the women’s 10km classic event the next day. Not surprisingly, the podium was taken by a trio of Poland’s Kowalcyz and Norwegians Bjoergen and Johaug. Norway also rounded out the top 5.
In the men’s 15km classic, Callum Watson placed 62nd from a field of 68, 4:45 minutes off the winner Johan Olsson of Sweden. Switzerland’s Dario Cologna and Russia’s Alexander Legkov rounded out the men’s podium. Watson’s result earned him a solid 98 FIS points.

Aus Team for Erzurum 2012

The Australian Team for the upcoming World Junior and Under 23 Championships has now been confirmed. The following athletes will compete in Erzurum, Turkey:

Under 23:

Callum Watson
Phillip Bellingham
Paul Kovacs

Junior:

Mark Pollock
Alasdair Tutt
Hamish Roberts

The Under 23 athletes are fully qualified, while the junior athletes will contest one event each.

For furtherdetails on the events, go to: http://www.erzurum2012jwsc.com/en-EN/HomePage/

Moscow & Rybinsk World Cups

The next city sprint in the World Cup circuit was held in Moscow, Russia. Three Australian athletes took part in the sprint- Esther Bottomley, Callum Watson and Mark Van der Ploeg. The conditions for the sprint were cold with cold, dry snow making times slower and the field spread out.

Esther Bottomley finished 54th in the women’s time trial, with the final event being won by Poland’s Justyna Kowalcyz. Callum Watson and Mark Van der Ploeg finished 63rd and 64th respectively, equal to the bib numbers they wore on the start line. Teodor Peterson of Sweden was the men’s final winner.

Coach Finn Marsland said, “I had high expectations for this event that were not met. The location was great but the crowd was disappointing, and unfortunately all three of our athletes there picked up a minor cold as we left Austria. It was very cold and slow snow, which helped to spread out the time gaps.”

After the sprint in Moscow, Callum Watson and Mark Van der Ploeg headed for Rybinsk to contest the 15km Freestyle Mass Start event there. Conditions were also cold in Rybinsk, with the race held at -18 degrees on very dry, slow snow. The course was held next to a scenic frozen lake, approximately 30 minutes out of Rybinsk. Finn Marsland commented, “In contrast to Moscow the atmosphere in Rybinsk was incredible. Great crowds and carnival feel, despite -20 degrees in the middle of nowhere.”

“The boys recovered quickly from their colds and skied reasonably well in the 15km. Callum would have liked to have hung with the main pack for longer but he didn’t quite have the extra gear. It was a good effort from Mark to avoid being overlapped on the 2.5km loop.”

Callum Watson finished in 59th place, 5:43 minutes off the race winner Canadian Devon Kershaw. Mark Van der Ploeg was next in 60th.

The team is currently completing an altitude training block in Livigno, Italy. Some of the athletes will then move to Erzurum, Turkey for the World Junior & Under 23 Championships.

Austrian Championships, Bad Ischl

The Australian Team had good representation at the Austrian Championships in Bad Ischl with 11 athletes competing over the three days of racing. Esther Bottomley started the racing with a bang, qualifying first in the women’s freestyle sprint event with a 4 second gap to the second qualifier. Continue reading

Estonian World Cup

Catching up on the last few weeks of international racing action, during which Australian athletes have competed in the Estonian World Cup races at Otepaa and the Austrian Championships in Bad Ischl.

In Otepaa, Esther Bottomley made a gutsy effort in the classic sprint– the only woman who opted to forego the grip wax to double pole the entire course. Continue reading