The SSA Cross Country Committee is pleased to announce the official National Teams for 2017/2018. Twenty athletes have accepted invitations to join the World Cup, Continental Cup, U23 and Junior Teams, and preparing for major competitions in the coming season including the 2017/2018 World Cup series, the 2018 World Junior/U23 Championship in Switzerland, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
World Cup Team
– Phillip Bellingham, 26 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Barbara Jezersek, 31 (NSW, Team Pioneer Investment)
– Callum Watson, 28 (NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Jessica Yeaton, 25 (WA, APU Ski Club)
Continental Cup Team
– Aimee Watson, 30 (NSW, Cooma Ski Club)
– Paul Kovacs, 27 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Mark Pollock, 25 (VIC, Wangaratta Ski Club)
– Casey Wright, 22 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club/UAA Ski Team)
– Ella Jackson, 19 (VIC, Victorian Team)
– Katerina Paul, 21 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Nicholas Blackwell, 18 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Liam Burton, 19 (ACT/NSW, Cooma Ski Club/Åslia Skilag)
– Seve de Campo, 19 (VIC, Ski Club of Victoria)
– Emily Champion, 15 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Finlay Clarke, 19, (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Phoebe Cridland, 16 (NSW, NSWXC)
– Maysen Duffy, 15 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Jarrah Forrer, 17 (VIC, Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Club)
– Darcie Morton, 17 (VIC, NSW Biathlon)
– Bentley Walker-Broose, 16 (NSW, NSWXC)
This is a big season for the Australian Team, with 8-9 athletes in contention for Pyeongchang 2018 selection and a large Junior Team in Europe to gain experience and prepare for the World Juniors. Between November and February the bulk of team athletes will be based in Davos, the home town of Head Coach Valerio Leccardi. The first World Cups being contested will be Davos and Toblach in December. With perhaps only 1-2 athletes starting the opening races of the Tour de Ski in the final days of 2017, in January the World Cup team will target the Dresden World Cup for Team Sprint experience and then use the Seefeld World Cup for final preparation for Pyeongchang.
Leading the charge for Pyeongchang are Barbara Jezersek and Phillip Bellingham, winners of the 2017 FIS Australia – New Zealand Continental Cup series. Jezersek finished 24th at the 2017 World Championship in her first season racing for Australia, and is aiming to crack the top 20 in Pyeongchang. Bellingham has been Australia’s most consistent performer on World Cup over the past 4-5 years, and is currently the only XC skier to have met the AOC’s Tier 2 performance standard. Close on their heels, Jessica Yeaton scored an Australian best 24th place and Callum Watson a personal best 31st place at the Pyeongchang test event earlier this year. Other skiers qualified to race World Cup this season are Aimee Watson, Paul Kovacs, Kat Paul, Casey Wright, and junior athlete Liam Burton.
The Junior/U23 Team has a mix of athletes looking to perform at the Goms Junior/U23 World Championship and others building experience and gaining their first taste of competition in Europe. Burton, Kat Paul, and Seve de Campo are already A-qualified for these events and aiming to improve on their performances at past championships. Lead-in competitions will include the Swiss and Austrian Championships, which will also be the main races targeted some of the younger team members.
The first Australians competing overseas these season will be Aimee Watson in Muonio, Finland on November 10-12, and Callum Watson in Bruksvallarna, Sweden on November 11-12. Athletes will begin to arrive in Davos from November 16. 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.