Report from the Dresden World Cup on January 13/14.
Original article posted at http://pyeongchang2018.olympics.com.au/news/historic-weekend-for-australian-cross-country-team
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: It’s been a historic weekend for Australia’s cross country skiing team just weeks out from the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Jessica Yeaton and Barbara Jezersek made Australia’s first ever Team Sprint final, finishing 10th, while Callum Watson and Phil Bellingham just missed out on achieving the same feat in the men’s event as they claimed 12th overall.
Bellingham kicked off the weekend by finishing 27th in qualification for the Individual Sprint, 5.64 seconds off the leading time, to make the 30-man Final for the first time.
Lining up in a tough quarter-final which featured the eventual gold and bronze medallists, Bellingham finished just 2.35 seconds back on the 1.2km course, in a time that would have won two of the other heats.
Yeaton just missed the Individual Sprint quarter-finals herself after finishing 35th, less than a second off qualifying, as Jezersek claimed 45th and Watson finished 61st.
The next day the women turned it on in the Team Sprint to finish sixth in their semi-final and progress to the final, with nations such as Norway, Russia, France and Austria missing the cut.
The Aussie duo, who each completed three circuits of the 1.2km course, finished the final in a time of 14:00.93, 27.53 seconds off the Swedish winners who were involved in a thrilling finish with a second Swedish team and the USA.
The Aussie men were agonisingly close to qualifying for the Team Sprint final themselves, finishing just 1.2 seconds behind the winner of their semi-final and also ahead of higher ranked nations Germany, France, Austria and Canada. Italy went on to claim the gold ahead of Sweden and Russia.