Wright & Bellingham Win AUS Open

August 10
Australian Racing

Winter Olympians Casey Wright and Phillip Bellingham took home the top honours in the 2021 Australian Open Championships at Perisher on the weekend of 7-8 August. These were the first on-snow Australian Championhip events to be held since 2019, and also part of the 2021 FIS Continental Cup series. Unfortunately a number of leading athletes were unable to travel to the event due to travel restrictions across the country. The competitions were organised by NSWACT XC on behalf of Snow Australia.

Full results are available on Alpine Timing and also on the FIS website.

Neither of the eventual winners of the Freestyle Sprint were the fastest in the qualification time trial on Saturday. Jindabyne local Zana Evans was 1.7 seconds quicker than Wright over the 1.2km course, while amongst the men ACT Academy of Sport skier Seve de Campo was 3.4 seconds clear of his younger brother Fedele. In the head-to-head rounds Evans and Wright had a smooth run through to the A-final where they were joined by 2-time Winter Olympian Aimee Watson and Rosie Fordham. Wright and Evans were neck and neck through the race until the final climb, where Wright edged away for a clear win, with Watson taking the bronze medal. There was tight racing in the men’s semi-finals but the top four qualifiers ended up making it through to the A-final – the de Campo brothers, Bellingham and up-and-coming junior Hugo Hinckfuss. The final became a drag race between Bellingham and Seve de Campo, going right down to the wire with about a toe length separating synchronised lunges over the line. Fedele de Campo took third.

Men Sprint Podium – Fedele de Campo, Phillip Bellingham, Seve de Campo
Women Sprint Podium – Aimee Watson, Casey Wright, Zana Evans

The distance races on Sunday took place on the tough Perisher 5km loop, with two laps for women and three laps for men. The often variable grip waxing conditions at Perisher were not as challenging as they can be, with the snow transforming to klister conditions earlier than usual. In the 10km Classic Wright stamped her authority on the race, starting as the back-marker and overtaking most of the small field. Evans was the closest after 5km, half a minute off the pace, but she too was caught from a minute behind part way through the second lap. Wright’s winning time of 30:26.9 put here atop the podium ahead, with only the other medal winners Evans and Watson finishing within 10%.

The margins were closer in the men’s 15km Classic, but already on the first lap Bellingham had control of the interval-start race. A 19 second lead over Seve de Campo after 5km went out to 37 second at 10km, though de Campo fought on and kept the tim gap to 44 seconds behind Bellingham’s finishing time of 40:58.0. Mark Pollock was consistent throughout the race for a clear third place, just under 5% off the winning pace.

Zana Evans and Casey Wright, Women 10km Classic / Mark Pollock, Men 15km Classic

The other half of the 2021 Australian Open Championship at Falls Creek has been postponed to 4-5 September, dependant on Covid-19 travel and event restrictions permitting the competitions to be held.

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