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Hard and Fast Track for Kangaroo Hoppet

Mon, Aug  27, 2007 - By Allan Marsland

The seventeenth Kangaroo Hoppet, Australia's international ski marathon, was held today at Falls Creek in north-east Victoria. Thomas Freimuth from Germany won the 42km event ahead of 2006 winner and Australian champion Ben Sim. Third place went to Adam Swank from the USA. The women's 42km event was won by Katherine Calder from Canberra, ahead of Esther Bottomley from Mt Beauty and Falls Creek local Belinda Phillips.

The Kangaroo Hoppet is the opening race of the 2007/2008 Worldloppet series of cross country skiing marathons, which are held in 14 countries around the world. A good freeze overnight saw the track hard and fast for the start, then softening under the sun during the day. Almost 1100 competitors from 22 countries entered in the three race distances of 42km, 21km, and 7km.

2007 Kangaroo Hoppet Start, Falls Creek
Photo by Charlie Brown

In the men's event six skiers broke away early on, including Freimuth, Swank, 2006 runner-up Pascal Grab from Switzerland, and Australians Sim, Ben Derrick from Falls Creek and Chris Darlington from Jindabyne. Swank broke the pack up at the "Paralyzer" climb up the 12km mark then Freimuth began a series of attacks over the top of the course that left him alone at the front with a short gap ahead of Sim. Grab started to have breathing problems from a rib injury caused by a fall earlier in the week, and after the 15km mark was only able to use one arm for the rest of the race. Sim was within 10-20 seconds of Freimuth until about the 30km mark when the elastic finally broke. Freimuth won in the time of 1:46:57, nearly two minutes ahead of Sim. Derrick skied up to Swank and the two worked together until they hit the Paralyzer for the second time, then Derrick had nothing left on the climb and it was all he could do to finish and hold onto fourth place ahead of Darlington in fifth.

Kangaroo Hoppet Men's Podium 2007
L-R: Ben Sim, Thomas Freimuth, Adam Swank
Photo by Charlie Brown

Calder made a good start and already after 7km had about a 30 second lead over Bottomley, Phillips, and Camille Melvey from Bondi. Her lead extended throughout the first 21km loop to be five minutes ahead of Bottomley, who had built up a 30 second lead over Phillips. Melvey dropped back through the field while Carla Zilstra-Evans from the Netherlands was moving up. Calder won in the time of 2:08:00, a massive 15 minutes ahead of Bottomley. Zijlstra-Evans took fourth place two minutes behind Phillips, with Irene Dunn from South Australia in fifth and Samantha Bondarenko from New Zealand in sixth.

Kangaroo Hoppet Women's Podium 2007
L-R: Esther Bottomley, Katherine Calder, Belinda Phillips
Photo by Charlie Brown

Australian junior skiers filled the podium places in the 21km and 7km events.

Freimuth is one of Germany's top marathon skiers, with wins this year in the 50km freestyle at the 2007 Konig-Ludwig-Lauf (the German Worldloppet event) and the International Skadi-loppet. His victory today launches his assault on the 2007-2008 FIS Marathon Cup, a series of eight ski marathons based on the Worldloppet series.

Calder recently returned to Australia after spending most of the past two years training in Switzerland. Her win today confirmed her as the winner of the 2007 FIS Australia / New Zealand Cup, which gives her a special quota start in the 2007-2008 World Cup series with all expenses paid. The male winner of the series was Paul Murray of Mt Beauty, who missed the Hoppet due to illness however secured victory in the ANC last weekend at the Australian Championships.

2007 Kangaroo Hoppet 42km

 

Top 10 Men

 

Top 10 Women

1, Thomas Freimuth, GER
2, Ben Sim, NSW
3, Adam Swank, USA
4, Ben Derrick, VIC
5, Chris Darlington, NSW
6, Leon Spiller, VIC
7, Anthony Evans, NSW
8, Andrew Mock, VIC
9, Neil van der Ploeg, VIC
10, Mark van der Ploeg, VIC

1,, Katherine Calder, ACT
2, Esther Bottomley, VIC
3, Belinda Phillips, VIC
4, Carla Zijlstra, NETHERLANDS
5, Irene Dunn, SA
6, Samantha Bondarenko, NEW ZEALAND
7, Camille Melvey, NSW
8, Felice Beitzel, VIC
9, Lescinska Fackerell, VIC
10, Jane Scheer, NSW

 

2007 Australian Birkebeiner 21km

 

Top 5 Men

 

Top 5 Women

1, Alex Almoukov, NSW
2, Simon Flower, VIC
3, Callum Watson, NSW
4, Ewan Watson, NSW
5, Alan Eason, GREAT BRITAIN

1, Aimee Watson, NSW
2, Chloe McConville, VIC
3, Juliette Booth, VIC
4,Laura Calissoni, ITALY
5, Jessica Gray, VIC

 

2007 Joey Hoppet 7km

 

Top 5 Men

 

Top 5 Women

1, Mark Pollock, VIC
2, Phillip Bellingham, VIC
3, Paul Kovacs, VIC
4, Alastair Tutt, VIC
5, Robert Jones, VIC

1, Georgia Merritt, VIC
2, Anna Trnka, VIC
3, Aislinn Kildea, VIC
4, Lucy Glanville, NSW
5, Siobhan Jones, NSW