Wednesday, August 21, 2002 - Athlete Perspective
Aussie Report: The Racing Begins

By: Sarah Peters

I have just started my second week on the Aussie snow. I have been in Australia a tad longer as I spent a two very, very full days in Sydney with my Sydneysider friends. I reckon you can't spend 36 hours travelling and loose a day in the process with out doing a little sight seeing!

Actually, the sight seeing hasn't stopped. On Wednesday night I had my first live kangaroo sighting! There were two licking salt of the side of the road down from Perisher. As we drove past, they hopped off into the bush. I was very excited to see some wild and alive roos as it is not uncommon to see kangaroo and wombat road kill. I am still hoping to see more of these very cool animals.

Wednesday was also the day of my first race called the KAC Cross Country Classic or the Martini. The race followed an oversnow road from Perisher resort to Charlottes Pass resort and covered 8.5 km. I was informed that the race course altitude was 1800 m plus. (The 1750 m measurement is for the car park!) So with two days of skiing under my belt, I wasn't expecting too much from the race except for a bit of pain. And painful it was!! The long gradual climbs and thin air were hard on the old lungs but I managed to finish a respectable 3rd. I was rewarded for my efforts with a kangaroo embroidered beanie (Aussie for toque) and a sizable gift certificate to the local cross country ski store.

My next race was on Saturday - the 21 km Snowy Mountains Classic and Australian long distance championships. I anticipated feeling much better for this race until I woke up on Friday. I was so stuffed (Aussie for tired) on Friday after four solid days of training, one of driving, two of sight seeing and two of travel that my ideas of a brilliant performance met reality. I reminded myself that I am here to train and set about preparing for Saturday.

The Snowy Mountain Classic mass started at 10 am. The 21 km loop had been groomed the night before. Unfortunately, the regular groomer was either sick or drunk as the course came equipped with mid-track holes and tight icey corners. To be fair, I'm sure the freeze-thaw conditions they have daily are not the easiest to groom. But the course was not the easiest to ski and after five days on snow I was not able to stay on my skis. I had a minor tumble due to the mass start, took a spectacular downhill roll, and was "bumped" over by a serious, fellow competitor! All things considered, I was happy with my fourth place finish and it was definitely an interesting experience...

Waxing for the snow is also interesting as it tends to change very quickly. I like to leave classic skiing to later in the day as if you start too early you will be reapplying klister at least once or twice. I am not alone in my waxing woes. Along with a heap of great Australian skiers, there are other international visitors.

These visitors include Gaber who is Slovenian. He is a wax technician by profession and spent last season waxing for the Austrian nordic team! This year he will be working for the US Nordic Combined team. There are also two South Korean National Team skiers and their coach. They have both been to the olympics and Bok attended the Junior World Championships in Canmore! I was excited to talk to them as it gave me the opportunity to try out my limited Korean (taken eight years ago) on them! I think they appreciated my efforts. Yesterday, near the end of a hard double poling session their coach looked at me, said "Cera" as in Sarah, and gave me a thumbs up.

For the upcoming week, I have heaps more training and three more races. These are still training races in preparation for the Hoppet Loppet. To end this report, I should admit that I have tried the infamous Aussie pizza - onion, tasty cheese, bacon and EGG - and am slightly addicted to vegemite!

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