Aussie sprinters take on gruelling Alpensia course
13 February 2018
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: Australia’s cross country contingent have take on one of the toughest Sprint courses they’ve ever competed on in Alpensia.
Making it even more difficult were changing wind conditions and steady snowfall.
All four competing Australians pushed exceptionally hard but were unable to get in the top 30 in their qualification runs to progress to the quarter-finals.
Contesting in the Classical technique, Phil Bellingham finished the men’s 1.5km qualification course in 3:31.54, good enough for 65th out of 80.
Hakola Ristomatti of Finland topped the time sheets.
"It was solid but not exactly what I was hoping for," Bellignham said.
"I was hoping to be a bit closer to the top thirty but I left it all out there.
"I went out hard but I also thought I was hitting my goal pace pretty well.l I just found at the top of that second hill I was flooding with lactic acid and I just didn't have what I needed to."
In the women’s 1.25km event Australia had three competitors line up in the 68-strong field.
Having finished 50th in the opening Skiathlon event on Day 1, Jess Yeaton was Australia’s best placed women in 48th, crossing the line in 3:33.01, just under 9 seconds off making the quarter-finals.
"I was hoping for a little better, but I'm ok with it," Yeaton said.
"The course was really hard and since I last skied it (last year) you go straight from the first hill into the big hill and there is even less rest."
Endurance specialist and now two-time Olympian Aimee Watson finished the course in 3:44.87 to claim 58th.
"It was a bit tiring," Watson said.
"I was a bit flat coming out of the start and didn't feel like I was going that fast but I felt better going up the second hill so that's always good.
"I haven't raced for a couple of weeks so it's always good to go at race pace."
Olympic debutant Casey Wright rounded out the trio crossing the line in 63rd with a time of 3:49.80.
"It was ok, it wasn't quite as fast as I wanted but I definitely gained a lot of experience skiing with all these amazing girls," Wright said.
"It's pretty special to now be an Olympian. It's been at the top of my goal list for quite a few years now so I'm stoked. I can put a big tick next to that one."
Sweden’s Stina Nilsson has the quickest time of the qualifiers finishing in 3:08.74.
Yeaton and Watson, along with Barbara Jezersek, will return to Olympic competition on Day 6 in the women’s 10km free event.
Bellingham resumes alongside Callum Watson in the men’s 15km Free on Day 7.