Original article posted at: http://pyeongchang2018.olympics.com.au/news/world-cup-season-underway-for-cross-country-crew
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: Australia’s cross country skiing contingent have opened their World Cup campaign with some solid performances in Davos, Switzerland. The event kicked off with the Sprint events where both Barbara Jezersek and Phil Bellingham went close to qualifying for the top 30 and a coveted place in the finals.
Jezersek was just under three seconds off, placing 36th with a time of 3:04.07 while Jessica Yeaton was 1.83 seconds further back in 47th. Fellow Aussies Aimee Watson and Katerina Paul were 72nd and 74th. In the men’s event Bellingham was 49th, just 2.67 seconds out of the Sprint Finals, as Callum Watson claimed 80th, Mark Pollock, 100th and Paul Kovacs 107th.
Attention turned to the longer distance events on Sunday where the Aussies were once again well represented. Jezersek was the first Australian across the line in the 10km Freestyle in a time of 27:11.2, with Yeaton in 60th and Watson in 84th.
“Yesterday’s 10km Skate race was my race as I’m a long distance skier and I love the skate technique,” Jezersek said. “Unfortunately Saturday’s sprint took a toll on my body and I didn’t felt fresh enough to push through top 30 and collect my first World Cup points as an Australian. But the race was good and we were happy with it, but as perfectionist I wanted a bit more because I know I can reach higher this year. The Sprint result was a big surprise as I’m usually 45-50th but I managed 36th.”
In the men’s 15km Freestyle Bellingham claimed 89th in a time of 39:44.5, Watson placed 100th, Kovacs 107th and Lillehammer 2016 youth Olympian Liam Burton was in 109th.
The team will now head east to Toblach in northern Italy for next weekend’s second World Cup event featuring a 10km/15km Freestyle event on Saturday and a 10/15km Classic Pursuit event on Sunday.
“Focus is now on Toblach races especially on first one 10km Skate,” Jezersek continued. “Toblach is my favourite venue and I love to race there. It’s special course with a lot of hills and I love hills.”