2013/2014 Australian XC Ski Team International Season
SOCHI AUSTRALIA sent our largest ever Winter Olympic cross-country skiing contingent (XC) to the Sochi games.
The XC and biathlon teams were housed separately to the rest of the snow sports in the Laura Endurance Village, accessible only by gondola, with the racetracks right out the front door.
Despite some reports to the contrary, there was plenty of snow up at Laura, though warm temperatures during the day saw soft, spring racing conditions for a number of events. Our XC skiers put in solid mid-field performances and came away proud of their efforts.
It was inspirational to see aerialist David Morris pull off a silver medal in Sochi.
Aerials is a small sport internationally but to make it onto the podium at the Olympics is an amazing achievement and a testament to the dedication, perseverance and many hours of hard work that one needs to put in. Aspiring winter sports athletes should take the time to read David’s bio on his website: www. aerialskier.com.
JUNIORS The Junior/U23 Team was based in Ostersund in Sweden this year, led by the husband and wife combination of Nick and Lescinska Grimmer.
There were a few anomalies with the national team selection and any athlete who qualified for the junior, U23 or University World Championships were invited to train with the team. Unfortunately, it was an unusually bad snow season in Sweden early on, so the team skied plenty of sessions on a small loop of artificial snow.
Junior athlete Casey Wright had a stellar season and was recently named the 2014 Australian Junior Cross Country Skier of the Year.
Racing highlights included finishing just in the top fifty at the World Junior Championship, three top 16 results at the Swedish World Junior Trials and Australia’s best female result at the World University Games.
Casey is part of a great group of young female athletes coming through right now and who will make the step up to the World Cup stage before too long. WORLD CUP Phillip Bellingham was the outstanding AUSXC skier on World Cup for the second year in a row, edging closer and closer to the elusive top 30 and World Cup points.
He and World Cup coach, August Teague flew solo on a number of events this season while other athletes were ill or chasing points for Olympic selection. At one particular World Cup in Toblach, Phil was just 1.27 seconds outside of the finals.
Phil’s sixteenth place in the freestyle sprint time trial at the World U23 Championships was impressive and unfortunately the eventual silver medal winner tripped him up in his quarter final.
With such an impressive style, it’s safe to say that there are more sprint finals to come in Phil’s future.
Esther Bottomley raced only two World Cups this season but, has now racked up 41 individual starts since her World Cup debut 10 years ago.
The photo associated that we have of her on the Swissloppet circuit, was her first race back after illness about two weeks out from Sochi.
After the Olympics Esther found good form again in Switzerland with a podium third place in the Swiss Cup in Silvaplana and twelfth place in the Engadin Ski Marathon.
Many thanks to the supporters of AUSXC, in particular Falls Creek which is the National Team Training Centre, Ski & Snowboard Australia and everyone who supported the XC Towards 2014 fundraising campaign.
Look out for XC Towards 2018 activities coming up soon and follow Australian cross-country ski racing at www.ausxc.com and AUSXC on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
OLYMPIANS: Phillip Bellingham, Esther Bottomley, Callum Watson and Aimee Watson in Sochi.
JUNIORS: The Junior/U23 Team in Ostersund, Sweden, (back) Alasdair Tutt, Jackson Bursill, Nick Montgomery, Ellie Phillips and (front) Xanthea Dewez, Ash Spittle, Casey Wright and Anna Trnka.
WORLD CUP: Phillip Bellingham and coach August Teague at World Cup site Toblach, Italy.
SILVER MEDALLIST: Team mascot ‘Wally Wombat’ with Olympic silver medallist David Morris in Sochi.
RACING: Esther Bottomley racing the Surselva Marathon in Switzerland.