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Aussies embark on Swedish (& Finnish) escapade

25 November 2013


BIATHLON/ CROSS COUNTRY: Australian Biathlon and Cross Country Olympic hopefuls are competing in Sweden over the weekend as they ease themselves into the northern hemisphere winter.

Olympian Alex Almoukov leads a young crop of biathletes in the first IBU Cup in the sleepy town of Idre, close to the Norwegian border.

Almoukov has had a solid pre-season training in Russia, read about it in his blog here >>

It is an exciting time for 21-year-old Dyllan Harmer and 19-year-olds Daniel Walker and Lucy Glanville who join the experienced Almoukov in the first race of trimester one. Walker lists qualifying for the IBU Cup this year as one of his career highlights.

It is also an important race because IBU events are divided into three trimesters for each season. Athletes need to reach a minimum standard to progress to the next trimester. Trimester one ends at Christmas, with IBU Cup races in Norway and Austria to follow this weekend of racing.

Meanwhile, Cross Country’s Callum Watson and Phil Bellingham will be in nearby Bruksvallarna for the FIS Swedish Cup.

During the Australian winter Watson set a new VO2 max test AIS record of 88.3, so this will be a good hit-out to measure his on-snow form.

To hear more about how Bellingham prepares for competition, click here >>


CROSS COUNTRY: Australian Cross Country duo Phillip Bellingham and Callum Watson opened their European campaigns in Bruksvallarna, Sweden.

Bellingham reached the men's Sprint Pursuit 1km final where he finished a credible 27th out of 103 competitors overall. Bellingham also performed strongly in the 10km Classic to finish 57th ahead of Watson in 84th position. There were 178 racers in the field.

Racing against 124 competitors, Watson clocked 00:36:10.1 to finish 44th in the 15km Freestyle event.

Watson's sister Aimee was also a late addition to the FIS race in Inari, Finland.

The 26-year-old from the Cooma Ski Club finished 38th in the 5km Classic and 29th in the 10km Freestyle, collecting FIS points of 106.8 and 88.7 respectively- her best points since 2009.

Watson also proved herself against athletes with much higher FIS rankings than her from countries such as Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Russia and Japan. It was a very promising weekend for her chances to qualify for Sochi.

BIATHLON: At IBU Cup 1 in Sweden, Alex Almoukov led the Australians in the first 10km Sprint. Almoukov finished 56th, 2:08.5 off the pace of Russian victor Timofey Lapshin, missing only one target.

Dyllan Harmer finished 124th (3 shots missed) and Daniel Walker was 135th (4 shots missed) out of 140 finishers.

Both Harmer and Walker improved on their results in the second 10km Sprint the following day. Harmer finished 93rd out of the 131 finishers, dropping only one shot. Walker was placed =122nd but missed five shots. Almoukov did not contest the second sprint.

In the two women's 7.5km Sprints, Australia's sole female representative Lucy Glanville finished 105th and 93rd out of 107 and then 96 finishers respectively. Glanville missed three targets in her first race but struggled with the gun the following day, missing six shots.

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