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Austrians and French lead Australia – New Zealand Cup

Fri, Aug  22, 2008 - By Finn Marsland, FIS

Competition in the 2008 FIS Australia – New Zealand Cup (ANC) for Cross-Country Skiing has been hot over the last two weeks, with athletes from Canada, Japan, Switzerland and France taking on the locals from Australia and New Zealand. After four events, Esther Bottomley (AUS) and Geoffroy Pais (FRA) lead the series.

Second to Bottomley in the ladies’ standings is Milaine Theriault (CAN), who won both distance events at the Snow Farm in New Zealand. Theriault won the 10km Classic ahead of Katherine Calder (NZE) and the 5km Freestyle ahead of Sumiko Ishigaki (JPN). Bottomley leads the series with a first and second place from the two sprint events.

The four men’s events have had four winners. Pais won the opening Sprint Freestyle at Perisher Valley in Australia, Tomio Kanamaru (JPN) won the Snow Farm 15km Classic, Shohei Honda (JPN) won the Snow Farm Sprint Freestyle, and Robin McKeever (CAN) won the Snow Farm 10km Freestyle.

Next weekend the ANC continues at Falls Creek with the Australian Championship events on 23rd-24th August. Though the Japanese and Canadian athletes are not coming to contest these events, the international contingent will still be strong, with skiers from the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and the USA joining Pais from France. The final ANC event is the Kangaroo Hoppet 42km free technique race on 30th August, where two of the top contenders will be 2008 American Birkebeiner winner Evelyn Dong (USA), and 2008 Dolomitenlauf winner Victor Novotny (CZE).