Na­tional team skiers re­turn to home base

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - NEWS - By STRUAN JONES

AUS­TRALIA’S best cross-coun­try skiers will con­verge on Falls Creek in the last week of June, for their an­nual Na­tional Team Train­ing Camp.

The camp marks the start of the Aus­tralian ski sea­son, and is an op­por­tu­nity for the ath­letes to meet with fel­low team­mates and coaches, to train to­gether and dis­cuss the sea­son ahead.

For many, it will be the first time back on snow since a busy and suc­cess­ful north­ern win­ter – which in­cluded the PyeongChang Win­ter Olympic Games in South Korea.

Se­nior mem­ber of the team Mark Pollock says that it’s a great time to meet ev­ery­one again af­ter a pe­riod of re­duced train­ing.

“Ev­ery­one’s re­freshed, peo­ple are keen for the Aus­tralian sea­son ahead, and the camp is an op­por­tu­nity to mea­sure your train­ing and abil­ity against other mem­bers of the team,” he said.

An eclec­tic mix of about 10 cross-coun­try skiers from Vic­to­ria and NSW make up the na­tional team.

The ath­letes man­age their own train­ing on top of their work or study com­mit­ments, and will of­ten travel over­seas to­gether and meet at races at home and abroad.

For many, Falls Creek will be their home for the next few months, to get as much time on snow as pos­si­ble be­fore head­ing to Europe for a big 2018/19 sea­son which will cul­mi­nate in the Ski­ing World Cham­pi­onships in Aus­tria.

The June camp in­volves a tough week of train­ing, in­clud­ing gym ses­sions and daily skis in both the skate and clas­sic dis­ci­plines.

Aus­tralian head coach Va­le­rio Lec­ca­rdi will also work with the skiers with video anal­y­sis and feed­back.

Pollock ad­mits that while cross-coun­try ski­ing is an in­di­vid­ual sport it still in­volves a big team as­pect.

“You train a lot by your­self and you com­pete by your­self , but there is still strong ca­ma­raderie between the team­mates,” he said.

“When you’re all com­pet­ing in an event and your team­mates per­form well, it re­ally lifts you, it lifts the team.”

For Ella Jack­son, 20, this will be her first June camp as part of the se­nior team.

She’s look­ing for­ward to train­ing along­side Olympians.

“You can’t do it by your­self in ski­ing,” she said.

“When you race you’re rep­re­sent­ing all the peo­ple that have helped you get there. I don’t feel pres­sure, I feel sup­ported.” Se­lec­tion to the na­tional team is com­pet­i­tive. Along with solid race re­sults, tal­ented skiers must prove to the coaches and se­nior mem­bers they are com­mit­ted to the sport and their own im­prove­ment - and the suc­cess of the whole team.

If they meet those high stan­dards, young skiers will be for­mally in­vited to join the team.

They all agree that the best part of the Aussie win­ter is be­ing where they’re most com­fort­able.

“It’s just fun, train­ing and rac­ing with friends at home is amaz­ing,” Pollock said.

“You share some­thing spe­cial with ev­ery­one out there on the moun­tain.”

IN THE MIX: Ella Jack­son is just one of Aus­tralia’s cross coun­try skiers who will train at Falls Creek this win­ter.

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