Let the 2015 Winter Universiade begin!

The 2015 World University Winter Games begin tonight with a skate sprint. The event will be held in Strbske Pleso which is in Slovakia. Australia will be represented by Phillip Bellingham, Callum Watson, Jessica Yeaton, Jackson Bursill and Anna Trnka.

“With three members of our World Cup Team this is one of the strongest teams that we have sent to the university games,” commented SSA XC High Performance Manager Finn Marsland. “All five athletes seem to be coming into form at the right time and it will be exciting to see how they can perform.” The best ever Australian cross country skiing result at the WUWG was 9th by Esther Bottomley in the Freestyle Sprint in 2011, and the best ever distance result was 18th by Chris Heberle in the 15km Freestyle in 1991.

The WUWG are promoted as the second largest winter sports event behind the Olympics. A number of different sports will be held including alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, biathlon, ski jumping, ice hockey, figure skating and curling. For 2015 the Games will be held across two different countries. In Slovakia will be the cross country, nordic combined and ski jumping at Strbske Pleso, and biathlon at Osrblie. All other events will be held near Grenada in Spain. The Games will be broadcasted in 100 different countries including Australia where a number of the cross country events will be shown live on Eurosport.

Heading up the Australian support team for the first time is Randy Gibbs from the USA, a long-time US Ski Team wax tech now taking up coaching once again. Filling out the small waxing team is local Slovakian Radoslav Zima. Last but not least is physiotherapist/manager extraordinaire Claire Coltman, who has supported the Australian Team at the last two WUWG.

Today’s skate sprint is the first of the five events and one that Australia has a chance to do really well in. Phil Bellingham goes into this event ranked fourth whilst Jessica Yeaton is ranked 12th. “Phil and Jess have a very good chance to make the finals, but the other Aussies could also be in the running,” said Marsland.  “Once the head-to-head racing begins, tactics start to come into play and anything is possible.”

Australian Team
Phillip Bellingham (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club / Dala Sport Academy)
Callum Watson (NSW, Cooma Ski Club / Dala Sport Academy)
Jessica Yeaton (WA, APU Ski Team)
Jackson Bursill (NSW, NSW XC Ski Team)
Anna Trnka (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)

Events
25 January – Freestyle Sprint
26 January – Mixed Gender Classic Team Sprint
28 January – 5/10km Classic Individual Start
30 January – 3*5km/4*10km Relay (no Australians competing)
31 January – 15km Freestyle Mass Start (Female)
1 February – 30km Freestyle Mass Start (Male)

Links

Follow the WUWG on social media: #ausxc #uniroos #tatry2015

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