Hoppet race against time
GALE force winds and intermittent rain have proven challenging for Kangaroo Hoppet organisers this winter.
Two weeks out from the big day and race director Ben Derrick said every effort was being made to prepare the course.
About 1000 skiers are expected to compete in the 26th Hoppet, the Falls Creek leg of the Worldloppet series.
“Our trail crew and groomers are installing temporary bridging and farming as much snow as possible to link up the weak areas on the course,” he said.
“With light snow forecast for the next few days and more closer to race day, we are hopeful that the full course will be open for the event.
“As a fall-back we have various courses and scenarios that we will assess as the event day approaches.
“We will always have the participant safety and enjoyment as our number one priorities.”
ONCE again the Kangaroo Hoppet is under siege with elite cross-country skiers from across the globe targeting Australia’s leg of the Worldloppet.
Four time winner Ben Sim, who has returned to crosscountry skiing, is the last Australian to top the dais but that was way back in 2009.
Since then it has been the Swiss, Czech and Russians.
This year American Matt Gelso and Estonia’s Varuh Teppan, fourth in the Hoppet in 2014, carry elite international credentials and will be vying for their first Worldloppet titles. Sim and Nick Montgomery seem the most likely locals.
The women’s field shapes as a contest between North America and Australia. Mary Rose and Deedra Irwin from the US have been training in Falls Creek for the past three weeks and will have good form following lead up races.
Brooke Darlington, formerly of the Canadian Ski Team, and 2011 world championship representative, has been training consistently in 2016 and will use her considerable experience to be among the contenders for the podium.
Triple Olympian Esther Bottomley, pictured above, has two previous Hoppet titles while up and coming Australian athletes Kat Paul and Ellie Phillips, are other Australians with winning chances.
COUNTDOWN: Phil Bellingham has been churning through the kilometres in a bid to be at his peak for the Kangaroo Hoppet.