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Jezeršek receives citizenship and looks towards PyeongChang

18 November 2016

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: She is the newest member on the Australian cross country skiing team but Barbara Jezeršek might just have the most experience.

Born in Slovenia, the 30-year-old competed for her birth country at both the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games before making a move to Australia.

Now with a chance to make her third Olympic Games, Jezeršek received her Australian citizenship at the start of October and is ready to race in the green and gold.

“Following Sochi I took a couple of months off to think what I would do next,” Jezeršek said.

“After my first season as a ski instructor in Perisher I decided that I would stay in Australia and start my new life. The idea of representing Australia at the 2018 Winter Olympics began to grow so I re- connected with my former junior coach Ales Gros.

“We are now training and focusing on every step towards PyoengChang and getting my shape back or at least get it close to where I was before Sochi.”

After not being allowed to compete for eight months while gaining citizenship, Jezeršek’s bid for another shot on the Olympic stage is about to ramp up.

“I had a lot of good pre-season training in Australia and I am now training with my marathon team (Team Pioneer Investments) in Sweden where the snow is superb.

“We will compete in two Visma Ski Classic races in Switzerland and Italy and then I will have my first race for Australia at the World Cup in Davos in early December.

“I will then do more Visma Classic races before looking to peak for the 2017 World Championships in Lahti, Finland, where I plan to do four or five races.”

While Jezeršek’s knows how hard it is to qualify for an Olympic Games, she has every intention of not only lining up for her adopted nation in Korea but topping her previous Olympic best.

“My first Olympics in Vancouver I still believe was the best. I still remember the Opening Ceremony and it was magical. It was there that I secured my best Games result with 17th in the Skiathlon.

“In Sochi I was attacking that result however I made a small mistake which cost me a top 12 position and I finished 19th.

“Now looking ahead to PyeongChang my goal is to beat that 17th place finish and represent Australia the best I can.”

No matter the result, a third Games appearance would be an exceptional feat for Jezeršek who grew up aiming to excel in a different sport.

“Before I started skiing I was a swimmer and only did cross country occasionally because my brother was a Nordic Combined athlete. One year I got bronchitis however and switched to cross country and soon made national junior teams and went from there.

“After watching my brother Andrej compete at the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics on television I decided I wanted to try and beat his results.”

Fourteen years later and the Jezeršek family’s legacy is still well and truly alive.

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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