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Cruel conditions test Cross Country skiers

27 February 2017

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: Conditions weren't kind for Australians Ben Sim and Jackson Bursill in the men's 30 kilometre mass start at the 2017 Sapporo Asian Games.

A downpour of snow moments before the commencement of the race made the going tough for the 20 members of the field.

“It was tough conditions out there,” said 23-year-old Jackson Bursill.

“Basically 10 seconds before the starters gun went off the heavens opened up and started dumping snow.

“The chemicals we put on the base of our skis were more prepared for the conditions that were existing pre-heavens opening which meant big sections of the course were quite slow for us and it was hard to keep with the pack.”

Vancouver Olympian Sim was the best performed of the two Aussies, finishing in 13th position in a time of one hour, 35 minutes and six seconds.

“I was really happy with my race actually,” said Sim.  

“I skied with the front guys for probably a third of it and then got a bit too cooked.

“From there I sat with a couple of boys and we managed to work together which was nice. I managed to finish off pretty well but it was a tough day.”

Sim attributes his good result to the rivalry he struck other competitors while out on course.

“If those guys weren’t with me, unfortunately I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did.

“We’ve had those conditions before, that’s winter sports it just sucks when you can’t really nail it on the day.

“We also don’t have 20 pairs of skiis over here, which some of the guys do but we did the best we could and are pretty happy with it."

Bursill crossed the finish line in a time of one hour, 48 minutes and 13 seconds which put him into 18th place.

“Definitely not the worst, but I think for me that was the most adverse conditions that I’ve had to race in compared to what we were expecting.

“Pretty tired but satisfied. Definitely very satisfied.”

After a gruelling week of Asian Winter Games competition, the experienced Aussies will now take time to consider their futures in the sport.

“I’m quite motivated to keep training, but I don’t know if it’s actually going to happen. I will try and race a little bit more seriously through the Australian season especially with the Olympics coming up,” said 31-year-old Sim.

“I don’t really know why I retired it was just a decision that I thought I should probably hang the boots up and move onto the next stage of my life.

“It’s not a decision I regret but I will always miss skiing.”

Michelle Cook
olympics.com.au

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Ben Sim
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Ben Sim

Jackson Bursill