The JWOC week continued today with the Middle distance qualifying race in the forest around San Martino di Castrozza. It was a challenging day for the Aussies with complex rock detail on steep hillsides with mixed visibility pine forest and a rough forest floor adding to the challenge.
San Martino lies between 1400m and 1600m above sea level. The arena for qualification races this morning was the Sporting Hall in the village.
Once again the competition terrain was dominated by coniferous woods, with visibility ranging from good to poor. Plenty of rock and contour detail challenged competitors, with pre-race commentary suggesting the need for good compass technique, particularly on down hill legs. Race conditions were ideal.
The qualifying races consisted of 3 Heats with the top 20 from each heat going through to tomorrow’s A Final, places 21-40 running in the B final and the remainder running the C final. The sombre mood amongst the Australian team at the end of the qualification races reflected the fact that there were no ‘A’ qualifiers today. However, three were in the mix for a top twenty heat placing until quite late in proceedings.
NSW representative Josh Blatchford continued his consistent performances in his first JWOC competition. He finished 27th in qualification heat 1, but was the closest of the Australian’s to an ‘A’ qualifier, missing out by 27 seconds. Tasmania’s Sarah Buckerfield had her best run to date in women’s qualification heat 2. Her time of 31:28 placed her in 21st position, 32 seconds out of a top twenty position. In women’s qualification heat 1 Aislinn Prendergast from Victoria placed 23rd, 31 seconds off an ‘A’ qualifier, in a time of 31:47.
Middle distance qualifiers always seem to serve up some disappointments, though it is worth noting that Lachlan Dow from the ACT, along with Tasmanian’s Callum Fagg and Oscar Phillips, will join Josh Blatchford in the ‘B’ final tomorrow. In JWOC 2008 in Sweden only Oliver Mitchell was able to qualify for the ‘B’ final. Max Neve and Leon Keely will contest the ‘C’ final. All six girls will contest the ‘B’ final – insufficient entries warranting the inclusion of a third race.
Middle distance ‘C’ and ‘B’ finals commence at 9:00am local time tomorrow. The ‘A’ finals get underway at 10:00am, and should prove to be an exciting spectacle. JWOC competition concludes with the relay event on Saturday at Val Canali.
Women Heat 1
1. Mari Arnesen Norway 25.19
20. Stine Hagner Denmark 31.13
23. Aislinn Prendergast Australia 31.47
28. Bridget Anderson Australia 33.45
Women Heat 2
1. Ivana Bochenkova Czech 23.53
20. Bettina Aebi Switzerland, 30.56
21. Sarah Buckerfield Australia 31.28
29. Krystal Neumann Australia 33.14
Women Heat 3
1. Vera Madlova Czech 27.20
20. Perrine Obstetard France 34.35
24. Belinda Lawford Australia 37.05
27. Lilian Burrill Australia 33.30
Men Heat 1
1. Martin Hubmann Switzerland 26.20
20. Dzians Monich Bulgaria 31.39
27. Josh Blatchford Australia 32.06
41. Max Neve Australia 34.25
Men Heat 2
1. Matej Klusacek Czech 26.17
20. Vili Niemi Finland 30.52
30. Lachlan Dow Australia 33.17
36. Callum Fagg Australia 34.22
Men Heat 3
1. Matthias Kyburz Switzerland 26.43
20. Rasmus Nielsen Denmark 30.55
40. Oscar Phillips Australia 35.22
Leon Keely Australia DSQ
Additional reporting from Karen & Russell Blatchford