World Junior/U23 Classic Sprint Report

2015 World Junior / U23 Championship, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Competition Day One – Classic Sprint

The opening day of competition in Almaty featured Classic Sprint events for all athletes. In the junior women’s Sprint Xanthea Dewez finished 43rd, Australia’s best place at a World Junior Championship since 2005 and the second best ever place by a female athlete (after Esther Bottomley’s 21st place in 2003). Kat Paul in her debut World Junior Championship was not far behind in 50th place. In the U23 men’s Sprint Nick Montgomery and Mark Pollock finished 49th and 50th respectively.

Xathea and Kat Almaty2015

The competitions in Almaty are perched on the edge of what seems to be a quarry overlooking the city. The race organisers did a great job in getting the track into shape and removing most of the stones from the trucked in snow. The course was tough, with the first two thirds of the race mostly winding downhill to the bottom of one big hill.

The course profile caused times in the qualification to be stretched out – 18 seconds separated the top 30 in the junior women. Xanthea Dewez was the closest Australian to making the finals, eight seconds out. “I really thought I had a chance at making the top 30 today so initially after the race I was a little disappointed,” said the 19 year old from Wangaratta. “However, I know I put everything in and gave it my best shot, and I’m happy to achieve my best World Juniors result in my last year.” The junior women’s sprint final was won by Victoria Carl from Germany.

This was Kat Paul’s first ever race outside of Australia and North America. “I really enjoyed it, the atmosphere was incredible,” she said after the race. “I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be. The crew nailed the wax and we had great skis. I was cooked by the top of the last hill, I certainly left it all out there on the track.”

The U23 men were towards the back of a smaller field than usual at this level of competition. “For a classic sprint this was really good for me,” said Nick Montgomery. “I kept my technique together and skied in control. I’m looking forward to the 15km on Thursday which is the main event for me here.” Mark Pollock is also targeting the 15km as his main event of the championship.

Xanthea and Kat race again tomorrow in the women’s 5km Freestyle; Australia has no starters in the junior men’s 10km.

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