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Watson and Bellingham pushing above their ranks in 15km Free

16 February 2018

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: Australia’s Callum Watson and Phil Bellingham have finished above their World Cup rankings in the 15km Free at the Alpensia Cross Country Centre. 

Watson placed 70th in the field of 117 after finishing in a time of 37:53.9.

His result saw him sit just over four minutes behind gold medallist Dario Cologna of Switzerland as Simen Hegstad Krueger of Norway finished with silver and the Olympic Athletes’ of Russia’s Denis Spitov claimed bronze.

“I had a pretty poor start but I managed to get a ride off one of the Swedes and forced myself to hang onto him,” Watson said.

“It was something I really needed and as soon as I had that I was set and really happy with my finish.

“It turned out to be a really good race. I was ranked 83 and finished a fair few spots above that.”

https://twitter.com/AUSOlympicTeam/status/964385346262716423

Sprint specialist Bellingham wasn’t too far behind his teammate crossing the line in 38:36.2 which was good enough for 77th having been ranked 81st coming into the race.

“That was pretty good for me,” Bellingham said.

“That’s not my main event, so pretty happy with how I went. I had fast skis and left it out on the track.

“The conditions were firm and the snow was fast.”

The duo live and train with each other for most of the year which ensures they have a friendly rivalry when it comes to racing.

“We always have a bit of a fun rivalry but in a race like that Callum usually pips me,” Bellingham said.

“We’re always trying to compete with each other.”

Watson and Bellingham will now focus on the Team Sprint that they will compete in alongside each other as they aim to make the top 12 and secure a berth in the final.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Watson said.

“Particularly with how that raced finished I’ve got the form there.”

“With how Phil and I skied in the Team sprint so far this year I think we can do some good things.”

The men's and women's Team Sprint Free events will be on Day 12 (February 21).

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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