Grace Crane continued her winning form in today’s Australian Sprint Championships at Bicheno, while Denmark’s Rune Olsen made a flying visit to take the men’s race. Large parts of the course were on coastal rock shelves, and the rainy conditions made the going challenging.
Crane had additional opposition compared to last weekend, with Lizzie Ingham making the trip to Tasmania. Ingham ran a very good first half of the race and extended her lead to as much as 35 seconds around the halfway mark, but Crane gradually hauled that in and pulled away over the final controls to take a 14-second win. Aislinn Prendergast picked up third after a solid run.
Olsen lived in Melbourne for a period in the mid-2000s, and was sufficiently well-absorbed into the local culture to make a trip from Oslo to see his team in the Grand Final (and run the Sprint Championships while he was at it). Despite his limited preparation, he took control of the race in the second half after a tight contest with Bryan Keely, winning by 20 seconds in the end. Keely took second and the resident title. WOC sprint finalist Tim Robertson lost his chance of winning when he dropped 30 seconds at the third control, but recovered well enough to complete the placings.
Todd Neve continued a good week to take out the junior men’s race ahead of Oliver Poland and Brodie Nankervis, while Heather Muir also made it another win ahead of Lilian Burrill and Amy Buckerfield.
Crane’s win keeps the women’s individual title in the senior National League alive. She closed the gap to Rachel Effeney to six points, enough to take the competition outright if she wins tomorrow and Effeney is third or worse. The senior women’s team title is also up for grabs over the weekend, with the Queensland Cyclones extending their lead over the Victorian Nuggets to five points today, while six points cover the Canberra Cockatoos, Tassie Foresters and Nuggets in the junior men’s competition.