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Strong southern season has Barbski primed for best Olympic result

9 October 2017

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: She loves a BBQ, can handle Vegemite and now Barbara ‘Barbski’ Jezersek is hoping her solid southern winter season will help the Slovenia-born skier secure some strong results in the green and gold when she soon heads north.

Jezersek, who has previously been to two Olympic Games for Slovenia, put together a recent string of strong results that included taking out the prestigious Kangaroo Hoppet and overall Australian and New Zealand Cup series.

“It was a great Australian and New Zealand season,” said the 30-year-old who was given her Aussie nickname Barbski by fellow Australian team member Kat Paul.

“After not racing last season, this year has been totally opposite. My results were fantastic especially the Kangaroo Hoppet result and final races in New Zealand. That showed me my training is working and that I'm becoming stronger.

“I'm dedicating much more time towards my training and final preparations before the European season and Olympic Games.

“I'm working hard, I trust my coaches training program and the results I've achieved this season proves that I'm heading the right way. I can say that I'm confident that I will secure my best result (at an Olympic Games) in PyeongChang for Australia.”

That previous best she is looking to beat is a 17th place finish in the Skiathlon at the Vancouver 2010 Games which would also ensure she would secure Australia’s best ever cross country result at a Games.

She knows that she will have to continue to put in the work both on and off the snow if she is to reach her goal.

“I've just completed a three-week training period of base training - it was recovery after racing season and to rebuild my basic body strength and endurance.

“Now the last four weeks before I head over to Europe will start my final pre-race preparations. It will be less of long sessions and more high intensity sessions - intervals. Lots of roller-skiing, swimming, running and hill bounding on sand hills at Palm Beach.

“Gym plan will change from basic to more specific - plyometric and explosive/dynamic strength. As soon I get to Europe I will spend a week at home and do some physical tests and go for snow training camp.”

From there Jezersek’s World Cup season will begin as she aims to lock in her PyeongChang 2018 spot and then take it to the world at the 2018 Games.

“I'm excited to return to Davos (where the opening World Cup race will be held) which is one of my favourite venues to race.

“This season I’ve set high targets for myself and I will do everything I can to reach them. I will combine World Cup races with Visma Ski Classic races - so it will be mix of long and short distance races.”

While the colours she is racing in might be relatively new, her coach, recently appointed Australian head coach Valerio Leccardi, provides her a bridge between her early career and the present.

“I’ve known Valerio for more than 15 years. I remember when we both were racing back in Europe and I’m really happy that we have someone I know.

“We both have the same vision and philosophy so we get along very well. Last season at World Champs in Lahti, I had the opportunity to spend more time with him and we got to know each other more.

“My personal coach will not be with me in PyeongChang, so Valerio is going to be really good support. He will be a good person to talk to and to ask for help if needed.

“Our whole team is great including our ski tech dream team - Randy, Bryan and Paul.”

Jezersek will compete in her first race of the season a Visma Ski Classic race in Pontresina, Switzerland in early December.   

Matt Bartolo

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