After Tour de France, Swimming and Athletics World Championships, it's now time for a little refreshment: The new skiing season of the Worldloppet will be opened by the traditional Knagaroo Hoppet in Australia this weekend! The Kangaroo Hoppet (42km skating technique) will be happening for the 23rd time in Falls Creek, Victoria.
Snow came relatively early this year, but parted soon again. But since the calendar turned its page to August, the weather has been good to the Organisers of the “Hoppet”: 60cm of new snow arrived since the beginning of the month and put the Hoppet track into perfect conditions. These were also already enjoyed by noone else than Alexander Lekov and Ilya Chernousov who prepare their Olympic season at the moment in Down Under. The whole track is now in perfect shape (in total 50km of groomed trails await those who come early to prepare the Hoppet) and everything looks good to have - once again - the original Hoppet track this year! With average snow depths of over 1 metre across the Bogong High Plains, conditions are looking really good for this year's Hoppet. The course is groomed and open for training. Temperatures today are between -7 to -3 with bright blue sky, however, more snowfall is announced in the afternoon. On "Hoppet Day", temperatures around 0 are expected.
Who's on the start list?
With top ranked internationals Alexander Legkov and Ilya Chernousov from Russia taking part, there is no doubt who the clear favourites are for this year’s Hoppet. But who else can we look out for contending for a place on the podium. Alexey Chernousov, Ilya’s brother, would be keen to move up from last year’s fourth place, but will be facing a strong challenge from Swiss Valerio Leccardi, a previous Hoppet winner, Swede Victor Gustafsson, and Australian Olympic Team contenders Callum Watson, Phil Bellingham and Alex Almoukov.
The women’s field is more open, with Marina Chernousova from Russia who placed second in the Hoppet last year will be keen to take the top spot this time. Also in contention for podium places will be Australian dual Olympian Esther Bottomley and fellow National Team member Aimee Watson, together with Americans Jessica Yeaton and Lauren Fritz who between themselves collected a few podium finishes in the 2013 USA Super Tour, Czech Kamila Borutova who won this year’s Gatineau Loppet in Canada, and Chisa Obayishi from Japan who is currently leading in the FIS Australia New Zealand Continental Cup.
A specialty of the Kangaroo Hoppet: The Pouch class!
With three distances 42km, 21km and 7km on the same day, the Kangaroo Hoppet is a real family event. A tradition has grown up with locals to enter their children in the event, and either carry them in backpacks or slings, or tow them in traditional pulkes or modern prams with skis. This created some problems for the organisers as entries were submitted in the Under 8 age class and children towed around by very athletic parents recorded the fastest time in their age class. To overcome this a new 'pouch class' has been created for children who complete the course with assistance from an adult. The name 'pouch' coming from the fact that kangaroos carry their young in a pouch.
High class guests to race the Hoppet!
No other than the Australian Minister for Sport, the Hon Hugh Delahunty, will get on his skis to enjoy the Kangaroo Hoppet this year! Besides him, members of the organising committees of Tartu, Transjurassienne, and Vasaloppet, and Mary Lee, the Head of the Merino Muster, the New Zealand candidate for associate membership of Worldloppet which took place last weekend, will be on the start line. Several multiple masters like Hannes Larsson, Jan Vadlejch and Robert Palliser will also be taking part.
For more information on the race
In general: http://www.hoppet.com.au/
Contact for any press and media inquiries: Allan Marsland, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year's winners:
Men: 1st Alexander Legkov (RUS), 2nd Ilya Chernousov (RUS), 3rd Ivan Alypov (RUS)
Women: 1st Maria Gräfnings (SWE), 2nd Marina Chernousova (RUS), 3rd Esther Bottomley (AUS)