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Leccardi and Calder win Australian sprint race

Mon, Aug  10, 2009 - By Ski & Snowboard Australia

This past weekend, Falls Creek is hosted the Australian Sprint Championship and Australian 15-30km Championship. The Sprint event on Saturday August 8 has Open and Junior categories, while the Women's 15km Freestyle and Men's 30km Freestyle on Sunday August 9 has Open and Masters categories.

The Falls Creek Junior Cup was held on Sunday, and while it is not a championship event it is a junior selection race. The Open class events also count towards the FIS Australian - New Zealand Cup, and international skiers have already arrived to provide extra competition for the Australian Team.

Valerio Leccardi of Switzerland, who narrowly missed the finals of the 2009 World Championship Sprint by 0.01 of a second, won the sprint race in 2:06.3. Two and a half seconds back was teammate Gaudenz Flury. The Swiss captured all three podium places when Thomas Diezig came in third.

Australian Paul Murray had just returned from New Zealand where he was training with the US Sprint Team, was gunning to add one more Australian Sprint title to his belt before his planned retirement in 2010. Murray came up short, finishing a disappointing 13th in 2:18.5. The top Australian was Mark Van Der Ploeg in 4th.

In the women's field, reigning Australian Champion Esther Bottomley was beaten by former Australian skier Katie Calder, 2:16.1 to 2:12.0. Calder is now skiing for New Zealand. Darcy Baxter finished third in 2:25.9.

Aimee Watson, who struggled with some minor injuries this last month skied solidly in her first distance race at Perisher last weekend but only managed 5th.

15-30 km race results were not yet available at publication time.