Hop­pet race against time

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.