Thursday, August 29, 2002 - Athlete Perspective
Aussie Report: Australian Championships

By: Sarah Peters

To start off my second week in Jindabyne, I decided to seek better accomodation. The Snowy Mountain Backpackers was okay but nine roommates and little air circulation can get a tad annoying. On one of my runs around town, I'd noticed the very Canadian sounding Mad Mooses Guest House. A quick inquiry and voila, my new home.

Mad Mooses is run by Stewie Freeth who isn't Canadian in the least but loves moose. It is a wonderful place with a very homey, clean, colourful and sometimes lively atmosphere. I only had three roommates for the first few days and then only one on the weekend. As well, a daily hot and cold breakfast was included and it only cost me five dollars more a night than the Backpackers. If you ever find yourself headed to Perisher Valley to ski be sure to book in at Mad Mooses Guest House ().

So with better sleeping arrangements secured I got ready for Australian Championships. Luckily, the groomer had recovered from his ailments and the FIS sanctioned course was ready for pre-skiing on Thursday. Thursday also brought in a few more racers though most had stayed for the week. By late Thursday, the start times were anounced and I waxed my skis for a 10 am start on Friday.

Fridays race was a 10 km classic. Women went first at 10 am with the men starting at 11. The day was fine and clear but at 10 am the track was still rock hard. I finished race waxing my skis with a few minutes to spare and hoped that the klister would hold up. The first 5 km loop went well until the last km when I stacked big time on a tight corner. The frozen corduroy (groomed track) managed to bruise and burn my arse as I skidded across it. It also managed to rip off my klister as I continued tentatively down the hill. The second and final lap found me following Lee Chun Ja for a bit and then Katie Calder. Chun Ja went straight up in the track - everywhere. Katie ran outside the track as I struggled to dig my edges in enough to herring bone! The downhill finish was stack free and I finished in third place - Chun Ja, Katie and then myself. Luckily, my burn was quickly soothed with Warren Feakes magic Italian cream - thank you Warren.

Saturday started bright and clear again ready for sprint day. I was feeling a bit sore from Friday but decided to take part nonetheless. A few more racers were in attendance for the sprints. Australia encourages athletes to focus on sprinting and allocates National Team sprint positions. Esther Bottomley and Paul Murray currently hold these positions. The sprint course was 850 m long and I qualified- to my surprise - in sixth position. My new found sprint success was soon ended. I was eliminated in the semi-finals but was rewarded for my efforts.

During my warm down ski with Chris Darlington - who represented Australia at World Juniors - we were stopped in our tracks by an echidna!! An echidna is the marsupial version of a porcupine. They are rare to see and many Australians have only seen them on their five cent piece! Needless to say the biologist in me was very happy. I was even happier still when Circa (another Aussie skier who waxed for the team at World Juniors) took me out wombat watching on Saturday evening. We only saw one but it was huge and alive. I slept well that night and awoke ready for the 5 km skate.

For the skate day, the men went out on the hard course at 10 am and the woman got a softer course for our start at 11 am. I was the second last starter for the day and was ready to go. I pushed hard, had cleaned downhills but wasn't able to catch Katie. Chun Ja finished first, Katie second and myself third. Katie and I were pleased because we had greatly reduced the time difference between Chun Ja - a world cup skier - and ourselves.

The happiest skier of the day was Ben Sim. Ben Sim is a 17 year old wonder. He beat Park Byung Joo (who I mistakenly called Bok last week) in by 12 seconds and received under 100 FIS points. This qualified him for World Cup 2003 sprint races and World Championships. He is definitely one to watch.

Aussie Champs ended with an outdoor awards presentation in the sun with medals and lollies (Australian for candies). I had to say good bye to many new found friends - Byung Joo, Peter and Leslie, Stewie and company, and racers not planning to attend the Hoppet! Skiing in New South Wales was fabulous and I was sad to leave.

Until next week, when I will be skiing the infamous Kangaroo Hoppet course in Falls Creek.


The podium from the women's 10km classic at the Australian National Championships, left to right: Katie Calder, Chun Ja Lee, and Sarah Peters. (photo: Finn Marsland)


Sarah laps through in the 10km classic race at the Australian Championships, in which she finished 3rd. (photo: Warren Feakes)


Sarah rubs on some "magic Italian cream" from Warren Feakes after a nasty crash at the Australian Championships. (photo: Warren Feakes)


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