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Yeaton's breakout season pushing her towards PyeongChang

25 March 2017

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: A breakout season against the sport’s elite has Jessica Yeaton emerging as one of the nation’s leading contenders for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

The 25-year-old cross country skier from Perth who bases herself in Anchorage, Alaska, has put together her best season to date with strong results throughout North America and Europe.

After putting in some solid performances in Canada and the US to start the season, she headed to the PyeongChang 2018 Test Event where she made it through to the Sprint final.

In her fifth and final event of the 2017 World Championships she went close to making the top 30 in the gruelling Mass Start before she rounded out the season by missing the Quebec World Cup Sprint final by just a quarter of a second.

“This has definitely been my best season to date,” Yeaton said.

“Although I had a number of performances at the beginning of the season that I wasn't totally satisfied with, I have been really happy with my results since the PyeongChang World Cups in early February.

“It feels great to race consistently well on the international level - with a few exceptionally good performances mixed in there - as that is something that I have struggled to do in the past.”

The strong 2016/17 season hasn’t come out of nowhere though.

“It’s been lots of hard work.

“The compounding years of structured training has given me a great base, which has resulted in having the fitness to jump into intervals with top USA World Cup skiers like Sadie Bjornsen and Kikkan Randall.

“Skiing behind them has helped me improve my technique and racing skill set and helped me to become a much more efficient skier overall.”

With thousands of kilometres in the legs over the past few months Yeaton certainly deserves some time off.

“I will take a break in April and work as much as I can before structured training begins in May again.

“I will still be really active though; we had a great snow year in Anchorage, so there will be amazing spring skiing, which is one of my favourite things!”

Following the break Yeaton’s focus will turn to becoming an Olympian.

“As the qualification criteria stands, I am in a good position to make PyeongChang.

“However, to ensure that spot and reach my goals of being a competitor rather than just a qualifier at the Olympics, I need to spend the off-season training months focusing on my weaknesses as well as continuing to improve my strengths.”

Australia is likely to qualify two men and two women for the cross country events at PyeongChang 2018, and Yeaton will look to book one of those spots. Other contenders for the female quota places include two-time Slovenian Olympian Barbara Jezserek, who has recently became an Australian citizen, Sochi 2014 Olympian Aimee Watson, and U23 athletes Katerina Paul and Casey Wright, who are just beginning to mark their mark on the international stage.

Matt Bartolo
olympics.com.au

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