Cross Coun­try 2016-2017

Alpine News - - Contents - By Finn Mars­land XC Ski­ing Pro­gram Direc­tor Ski & Snow­board Aus­tralia

THE 2016-20172016- 2017 north­ern win­ter was a big sea­son for the Aus­tralian XC Ski Team. While we are still dream­ing of the re­sults achieved by the other Ski & Snow­board Aus­tralia dis­ci­plines (Britt Cox, amaz­ing), a num­ber of mile­stones were passed that de­liver a lot of hope for the fu­ture.

A re­ally pos­i­tive as­pect of the sea­son was the breadth of events con­tested and the num­ber of ath­letes in­volved. Through­out the sea­son Aus­tralian teams raced at the World Cham­pi­onships in Fin­land, the World Ju­nior/U23 Cham­pi­onships in the USA, the World Univer­si­ade Win­ter Games in Kaza­khstan, the Asian Games in Ja­pan, and World Cups in Switzer­land, Ger­many, Italy, South Korea, Es­to­nia, Swe­den, Nor­way and Canada.

The team also com­peted at con­ti­nen­tal cups, na­tional cham­pi­onships and na­tional cup races in most of these coun­tries and more. On one week­end alone in Jan­uary, AUSXC ath­letes com­peted in eight dif­fer­ent na­tions on three con­ti­nents (not count­ing any­one back in Aus­tralia).

Two high­lights dur­ing the sea­son were team ef­forts, which are not as com­mon in what is mostly an in­di­vid­ual sport. The 4 by 5km re­lay team of Jes­sica Yeaton, Aimee Wat­son, Bar­bara Jez­ersek and Kat Paul was the first re­lay team of ei­ther gen­der to fin­ish at the World Cham­pi­onship since 1993, a task that has be­come in­creas­ingly harder due to short laps and the risk of be­ing lapped out.

A All four ath­letes gave it their all on the day to get the team across the line in 14th place. At the Ju­nior World Cham­pi­onship, the boys’ team of Liam Bur­ton, Seve de Campo, Jar­rah For­rer and Matt Bull were the first re­lay team to be en­tered since 1995, and they also did their coun­try proud, fin­ish­ing in 15th.

Prior to this sea­son Aus­tralia had 3 in­di­vid­ual World Cup points to our name, scored by Paul Mur­ray in 2005 (2) and Ben Sim in 2009 (1). Now we have a to­tal of 9, thanks to Jes­sica Yeaton (8) and Aimee Wat­son (1) in the PyeongChang test event, with Jess’s 24th place in the 15km Skiathlon, which is now AUSXC’s best ever in­di­vid­ual World Cup place.

Twenty-fourth is also now Aus­tralia’s best re­sult at the Nordic World Cham­pi­onship, cour­tesy of Bar­bara Jez­ersek in the 15km Skiathlon on Lahti. Col­lec­tively the team picked up one top 30, two top 40s (Bar­bara and Jess), three top 50s (Phil, Bar­bara and Jess), and just about ev­ery­one rac­ing at the Worlds scored a per­sonal best re­sult.

The last mile­stone to re­port on this sea­son is from the Asian Games in Sap­poro, where Aus­tralia com­peted as a guest na­tion for the first time. Casey Wright stunned the field to win the Sprint qual­i­fi­ca­tion, and then went on to fin­ish in 3rd place in the A-fi­nal, the best re­sult for the Aus­tralian Team at the games. Tech­ni­cally it wasn’t a podium, but we are claim­ing it. To­day an Asian Games podium, to­mor­row the World.

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PHO­TOS: AUSXC

◆ RAC­ING: Casey Wright (above) re­turned a great re­sult at the Asian Games in Sap­poro to fin­ish third in the A fi­nal. ◆ PODIUM FIN­ISH: Kat Paul (right) on the podium at one of the XC cham­pi­onships held over the north­ern hemi­sphere win­ter.

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