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Russian skiers top the podium at Kangaroo Hoppet

24 August 2013

CROSS COUNTRY: Australia’s international ski marathon the Kangaroo Hoppet was held today at Falls Creek in north-east Victoria. In the 42km main event it was a Russian double, 2012 Hoppet winner and World Cup distance champion Alexander Legkov winning the men’s race and 2012 runner-up Marina Chernousova winning the women’s race.

After snow, rain and wind in the week leading into the event the skies cleared up for a perfect race day. The Kangaroo Hoppet is part of the Worldloppet series, which features 16 races in 16 countries and has annual participation of 135,000 skiers. Around 1000 competitors from 23 nations entered in the three Kangaroo Hoppet race distances of 42km, 21km, and 7km.

Russians brothers Ilya Chernousov and Alexey Chernousov rounded out the men’s podium, while Lauren Fritz from the USA and Chisa Obayashi from Japan were second and third women. The first Australians were Callum Watson and Esther Bottomley, both who finished fifth. The Russian team had been training at Falls Creek for the past three weeks as part of their preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The two favourites in the men’s race Legkov and Ilya Chernousov attacked early on, splitting up the main pack. Valerio Leccardi  from Switzerland and Alexey Chernousov also broke away on the “Paralyser” climb, but then were caught by Australians Watson and Alex Almoukov. This chase pack of four skied much of the race together with the top two Russians slowly extending their lead out in front.

Watson attacked near the last drink station, taking Leccardi with him, then A.Chernousov bridged across as Almoukov was dropped. Up front Legkov left his team-mate behind and skied away for a comfortable win. With a couple of kilometres to go A.Chernousov attacked and Watson was unable to follow. Leccardi skied around but couldn’t bridge the gap, taking fourth at the finish behind the Russian podium trifecta. Watson was fifth and Almoukov sixth.

In the women’s race Obayashi and Chernousova went out hard, leaving the rest of the women scattered amongst the men’s field. At the half-way point Obayashi held a slender lead ahead of the Russian, with Lauren Fritz and Jessica Yeaton from the USA holding third and fourth. Kamila Borutova from Czech, winner of the this year’s Canadian Worldloppet race, held 5th ahead of Bottomley. There was plenty of action left for the second lap, as Chernousova took over the lead and Obayashi started to struggle with slower skis as the snow softened in the sun. Fritz and Yeaton began to close in on Obayashi, while Bottomley moved up into fifth past Borutova. Chernousova went on to win by over three minutes, Fritz came through for second place, and Obayashi managed to hold on to third ahead of Yeaton. Bottomley skied in for a clear fifth ahead of Borutova.

In the 21km Australian Birkebeiner Damon Morton from Marlo came from behind to win ahead of Jackson Bursill from Canberra and Daniel Walker from Sydney. Local Mt Beauty junior Anna Trnka won the women’s event for the second year in a row ahead of Casey Wright from Melbourne and Aislinn Kildea from Wangaratta. In the 7km Joey Hoppet Liam Burton from Jindabyne and Sabrina Howell from Sydney were the winners.

2013 Kangaroo Hoppet Race Results

42km Freestyle Kangaroo Hoppet
1          Alexander Legkov         RUS
2          Ilya Chernousov             RUS
3          Alexey Chernousov       RUS
4          Valerio Leccardi            SUI
5          Callum Watson              AUS
6          Alex Almoukov             AUS
7          Reto Burgermeister        SUI
8          Phillip Bellingham          AUS
9          August Teague               USA
10        Ben Derrick                    AUS

1          Marina Chernousova      SWE
2          Lauren Fritz                   USA
3          Chisa Obayashi              JPN
4          Jessica Yeaton                USA
5          Esther Bottomley           AUS
6          Kamila Borutova            CZE
7          Aimee Watson               AUS
8          Lucy Glanville               AUS
9          Isabel Knaute                 GER
10        Irene Dunn                     AUS

21km Australian Birkebeiner
1          Damon Morton              AUS
2          Jackson Bursill               AUS
3          Daniel Walker                AUS

1          Anna Trnka                    AUS
2          Casey Wright                 AUS
3          Aislinn Kildea                AUS

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