Birkebeiner had three award recipients at the annual 2013 Ski & Snowboard Australia Ski Awards held recently.
- Allison Stoddart — Participation & Sport Development (cross discipline award)
- Phillip Bellingham — Cross Country Skiing Athlete of the Year
- Anna Trnka — Cross Country Skiing Junior Athlete of the Year
Over the last twelve months Allison Stoddart has worked tirelessly for the betterment of Australian cross country skiing, at almost every level of the sport. On the coach education side Allison re-accredited and organised a Level 2 coaching course, built a new Level O coaching course from scratch, and revised all cross country skiing coaching resource material. She oversaw the establishment of the first Australian Fast & Female event, which had over 120 participants at Falls Creek at the start of July. Throughout the year Allison was one of the two main coaches with the Victorian Junior Squad, organising training camps and coaching at events during the Australian winter. During the international season Allison undertook a double tour, working first as manager/coach for the Australian Team preparing for the World Junior Championship, and then backing straight up to support the senior team at the World Championship in Italy and at the World Cups in Switzerland and Finland. Always putting the athletes’ interests first, Allison is an exceptional role model for athletes and coaches alike.
This was Phil Bellingham’s breakthrough year. Starting the international season as the team’s youngest and least experienced World Cup skier, Phil ended it as the team’s best and most consistent performer. His single best World Cup result was 50th / 73 starters in the Quebec Sprint, and he was also the top Australian performer in the World Cup Sprints in Sochi and Lahti, the two cross country Olympic benchmark events. In each of these events he was between 4 and 6 seconds outside of qualifying for the finals. Phil also teamed up with Callum Watson to finish 22nd in the World Cup Team Sprint in Quebec, and 25th in the World Championship Team Sprint in Val di Fiemme. In this latter event he gained a lot of media attention by skiing off the front of the field on the opening leg. Finally he finished the season in Europe with an impressive 14th place out of 160 starters in the invitational Red Bull NordiX in Czech, where he also claimed the title of best trick with a back-flip off the final jump.
This season Anna Trnka had the distinction of becoming the first female Australia cross country skier to make her debut in the World Championship and World Junior Championship in the same year (Ben Sim in 2003 and Paul Gray in 1989 are the only Australian males to do so). In the World Junior Championship in Czech Anna was the top ranked Australian athlete in the individual distance and skiathlon events, and skied an impressive opening leg of the 4 x 5km relay alongside Ukraine and Kazakhstan and ahead of Canada. At the World Championship in Italy Anna was the highest ranked Australian in the 5km Freestyle qualification race, finishing 11th and narrowly missing qualifying for the 10km Freestyle by just 4 seconds. Anna has one more year remaining as a junior and a promising international skiing future.
Thanks to Finn Marsland for supplying the citations and to Nick Parkinson
for the photo taken at the Awards Ceremony.