Cross Country ANC Cup - Perisher
20 August 2013
CROSS COUNTRY: Racing action in the 2013 FIS Australia New Zealand Cup moved to Perisher Valley last weekend for the sixth and seventh races in the series.
Swede Victor Gustafsson cleaned up in the men's events, while in the women's events top honours were split between USA skiers Jessica Yeaton and Lauren Fritz. The competitions were organised by Snowsports ACT and the NSW Snowsports Association on behalf of Ski & Snowboard Australia.
In the Classic Sprint on Saturday August 17 Australian Phillip Bellingham won the men's time trial ahead of team-mate Callum Watson and Gustafsson. Most of the athletes raced on klister in the time trials and through most of the finals, then sago snow began falling just before the A-finals. Gustafsson made a tactical decision that secured him the victory, switching to skating skis and double poling the race. The Swede took the lead at the start, and once he made it over the top of the course in front no-one was going to catch him. Watson took second place ahead of Bellingham.
In the women's finals the Fritz the fastest qualifier led the entire way and held on at the finish ahead of a fast finishing Yeaton. Chisa Obayashi of Japan took third place. Anna Trnka was the highest placed Australian, claiming both the Australian and Australian Junior Championship titles for her efforts.
On Sunday August 18 strong winds and drifting snow forced race organisers to reduce the competition distances and run all events on a 2.5km loop. In the women's 5km Freestyle Yeaton started second last and had her main competitors in her sight for most of the race, almost but not quite catching second placed Fritz from 30 seconds behind. Third place and the Australian title went to Trnka. The top seed Obayashi struggled in the challenging conditions and finished 6th.
The men's 10km Freestyle was an exciting affair with three competitors in contention for much of the race – Gustafsson, Watson, and Australian World Cup biathlete Alex Almoukov. Gustafsson led at the early splits, but Watson surged the virtual lead early on the last lap before fading to third place behind Gustafsson and Almoukov. Just 24 seconds separated the top three at the finish. The first junior was 17-year-old Hamish Roberts in 5th place overall, the young skier from Canberra scoring FIS point under 120 for the first time.
With one event remaining in the 2013 FIS Australia – New Zealand Cup Obayashi and Gustafsson lead the series standings. The final event in the FIS ANC series is the Kangaroo Hoppet 42km at Falls Creek on Saturday August 24.