There was exciting racing at Perisher this weekend with the opening races of the 2017 Australian Championship featuring four different winners. On Saturday July 22 Phillip Bellingham from Mt Beauty and Barbara Jezersek from Sydney each claimed victory in the Freestyle Sprint, then on Sunday Katerina Paul from Taggerty won the 5km Classic and Philippe Nicollier from Switzerland edged out the locals to win the 10km Classic.
Full results are available here in PDF format:
On Saturday Jezersek was in a class of her own, comfortable winning the time trial and blowing away the field in the finals. The battle for the minior podium places was much more tactical, with Katerina Paul pulling away from Aimee Watson just in the final 150m of the uphill finish. This was Jezersek’s first national title as an Australian citizen. Bellingham had closer racing in each of his quarter, semi and A-finals, but put the power down when it was needed and notched up his 8th Australian title ahead of Callum Watson and Paul Kovacs.
With Jezersek skipping Sunday’s race due to a rib injury the 5km Classic was wide open. Paul had a slender lead at the 3 km mark before finishing strongly to claim her first open distance title 30 seconds ahead of Aimee Watson, with Sarah Slattery taking 3rd. In the 10km it was neck and neck for the top spots until the final kilometre. Nicollier won by just 6 seconds ahead of Bellingham, with Kovacs taking third another 13 seconds back and just 3 seconds ahead of Callum Watson.
These races also counted as selection for the Australian Junior Team. 19-year-old Seve de Campo from Melbourne and 15-year-old Emily Champion from Sydney each claimed top U20 spot on both days as well as a top five place in the open class. Next weekend the competitions are all about the juniors with the Australian Junior Championship at Falls Creek, with age classes from U20 down to U12.