2016/2017 National Team Announcement

The SSA Cross Country Committee is pleased to announce the official National Teams for 2016/2017. A record 26 athletes have have accepted invitations to join the World Cup, Continental Cup, U23 and Junior Teams. The majority of these athletes will head overseas in the coming months in preparation for major competitions including the 2016/2017 World Cup series, the 2017 World Championship in Finland, the 2017 World Junior/U23 Championship in the USA, and the 2017 World Universiade Winter Games in Kazakhstan.

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Callum Watson at the 2016 Canada World Cup Tour

World Cup Team
– Phillip Bellingham, 25 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Jessica Yeaton, 25 (WA, APU Ski Club)

Continental Cup Team
– Aimee Watson, 29 (NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Callum Watson, 27 (NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Paul Kovacs, 26 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Mark Pollock, 23 (VIC, Wangaratta Ski Club)
– Nick Montgomery, 23 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Casey Wright, 21 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club/UAA Ski Team)
– Katerina Paul, 20 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)

U23 Team
– Casey Wright, 21 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club/UAA Ski Team)
– Abe Wright, 20 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Katerina Paul, 20 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)

Junior Team
– Stella Ajani, 19 (VIC, Victorian Junior Team)
– Lilly Boland, 17 (NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Matthew Bull, 18 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Liam Burton, 18 (ACT/NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Seve de Campo, 18 (VIC, Ski Club of Victoria)
– Emily Champion, 14 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Finlay Clarke, 18, (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Freya Clarke, 16 (VIC, Victorian Junior Team)
– Phoebe Cridland, 15 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Dominic Cooper, 19 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Jarrah Forrer, 16 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Nelle Forster-Berghuis, 17 (ACT, ACTXC)
– Gabrielle Hawkins, 18 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Ella Jackson, 19 (VIC, Victorian Junior Team)
– Darcie Morton, 16 (VIC, Livigno Sports Club)
– Bentley Walker-Broose, 15 (NSW, NSWXC)

The two athletes on the World Cup Team Phillip Bellingham and Jessica Yeaton will start the season in different continents. Bellingham will be based in Davos from November to January, targeting World Cups and Continental Cups in Switzerland, Slovenia and Italy. In similar fashion to last season, Yeaton will race predominantly on the US SuperTour, before joining up with Bellingham and other athletes from the Continental Cup Team at the start of February to tackle the 2018 Winter Olympic test World Cup in Pyeongchang.

Similarly the Continental Cup Team athletes are split between Europe and North America, with Callum Watson, Aimee Watson, Mark Pollock and Nick Montgomery racing the season predominantly in Europe, and Paul Kovacs, Casey Wright and Kat Paul starting the season in the USA. All Continental Cup Team athletes are also pre-qualified for the 2017 World Championship in Lahti, Finland, which is the main target event of the season.

Also set to race for Australia this season is Barbara Jezesek, who became an Australian citizen in October. Though not yet a member of the Australian Team (qualification for the team can only be from results achieved as an Australian), Barbara is eligible to compete on World Cup and at the World Championship and should have no problems meeting the team performance standard for the next intake.

With the World Junior/U23 World Championship in the USA for the first time since 1997, the Junior/U23 Team will have its primary base in Sun Valley, Idaho. The US Nationals at Soldier Hollow at the start of January provides a great opportunity for the team to test out the competition tracks for the World Junior/U23s at the same venue 3-4 weeks later. With a number of athletes pre-qualified and others aiming to qualify it is anticipated that around 10 Australian athletes will compete at the championship, including Continental Cup Team athletes Casey Wright and Kat Paul on the U23 side, and 2016 Youth Winter Olympians Lilly Boland and Liam Burton amongst others in the junior events.

The first FIS event of the 2016/2017 season for Australians will be in Muonio, Finland on November 11-13, where Aimee Watson is set to compete, followed by Callum Watson shaking out the cobwebs in Bruksvallarna the following weekend. The Junior Team has an altitude training camp coming up at the Falls Creek starting on November 20, with the official junior tour starting on December 4.

Progress throughout the international season can be followed on the AUSXC website and also via team/athlete social media posts.  Donations to the team can be made via the XC Towards 2018 campaign.

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