After travelling from Davos (SUI) on the 2nd of January, the Junior team arrived in Ostersund Sweden. The first primary focus of the trip to Sweden was to compete in the Scandic Cup (Swedish Cup) races that were held last weekend in Asarna. The races were in the same format as the World Junior Championships which meant they were perfect preparation for what’s to come for this group of athletes. With many still aspiring to achieve set standards to meet higher levels of selection for the World Junior Champs, it was a great opportunity for these athletes to put it all on the line and see what they could achieve.
The weekend was a great success with Friday’s 5/10km skate seeing some impressive results from all of our athletes. Bentley Walker-Broose, Emily Champion and Darcie Morton all achieved personal best performances in terms of FIS points and placed well in their age group standings at 41st, 21st and 22nd respectively. Nic Blackwell found a return in form skiing to a strong 45th place and Declan Burke achieved his 2nd best ever FIS point result after experiencing a challenging first period with several setbacks.
Saturday’s event being the 10/20km classic mass start was not the focus and therefore not raced by any of our athletes apart from Darcie Morton who was keen to gain experience in the event. It was her first attempt at a classic race at an international level and she skied it with such strength that you never could have guessed. A poor ranking combined with getting tangled in a crash at the start, meant Darcie started out on the first climb at the back, however gradually worked her way through more than half of the entire field to place 44th overall.
The classic sprint on the final day was certainly a challenge for all athletes with icy conditions and very short 800m/1100m courses for the women and men respectively. All of our athletes gave it all in an attempt to make finals which is no easy feat in an ultra competitive field such as this one. Bentley came close placing 40th, however Emily managed to put together a strong performance in the tricky conditions to make it through to her first ever international sprint finals by finishing the prologue in 25th place. The third quarter that she was placed in was a fast one, however she skied with confidence and managed to move up 1 more place to 24th position.
The team has now moved to Bruksvallarna to use the remaining 10 days to place full focus on the final training block before heading to Lahti for the World Junior Championships. Well done to all of our athletes and special thanks to Alex from the British Team who was a pleasure to work. Together, both British and Australian Skiers had some very competitive skis to work with and we are thankful for our ongoing collaboration with the British Team. Also special thanks to Tom McMahon and Teresa Riman for their inputs and helping to create seamless level of teamwork that certainly played a vital role in this successful weekend.
– Callum Watson, Junior Team Coach