RETRANS from Aust Olympic Committee today
CROSS COUNTRY: Australian Cross Country skiers are in an uphill battle towards Sochi on the unsuspecting slopes of Chamonix, France this weekend.
Brother/sister duo Callum and Aimee Watson and Victorian Paul Kovacs are chasing vital Sochi qualification points to determine their Olympic fate.
Overall Australia has a quota allocation of two men and two women for the 2014 Games in Cross Country Skiing, however only one woman is under the FIS/IOC A-qualification standard.
Phillip Bellingham, Callum Watson and Esther Bottomley have all met the A-qualification standard, while Aimee Watson is currently sitting on an average of 100.57 FIS points – just outside the required standard of 100 points.
At the Austrian Cup 5km Classic race last Monday Aimee was just 5 seconds short of the points she needed. Now Aimee needs just one more result of 105 FIS points to put herself in the mix for Sochi and hopes for a strong showing at the FIS OPA Cup in Chamonix.
The qualification equation is similar for Paul Kovacs, who sits just outside the A-qualification standard on 100.35 FIS points. However, Australia only has a quota for two men and Kovacs is currently sitting in third position in the rankings.
If more athletes are qualified than Australia has a quota for, athletes will be nominated to the Australian Team according to their best two World Cup results in nominated Benchmark events.
With one weekend of Benchmark World Cup events remaining (in Poland on January 18/19), the men’s ranking is as follows: Phillip Bellingham – 72.92%, Callum Watson – 91.04%, Paul Kovacs – 98.23%.
The final piece of the Chamonix puzzle is that Callum Watson needs to improve his world ranking by around 20 places in order to compete in the 30km Skiathlon and 50km Freestyle events in Sochi. He needs a couple of results in the 60-65 FIS points range to ensure that this happens.
In the meantime Phil Bellingham will contest the World Cup race in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic this weekend. Esther Bottomley was also set to compete in Nove Mesto, however came down with a cold and opted to sit the weekend out to make sure she is healthy for the next event.
It is down to the pointy end of the season for Australia’s endurance skiers, and with just a handful of races remaining, carpe diem.
Taya Conomos/ AUS XC | sochi2014.olympics.com.au