National team skiers return to home base
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.