Logie faces tough cross country assignment in Thredbo

Whilst Australia's winter Olympians are shredding up the ice and snow in Vancouver, some of the nation's best prospects for London 2012 will be carving up trails of a different kind at Thredbo's alpine playground. The nation's best mountain bikers head to the Snowy Mountains this weekend, February 12-14, for the third leg of the Australian Mountain Bike Series.

However Canberra's Heather Logie won't have any time to stop and admire the spectacular scenery this weekend, she has a job to do.

After taking Tasmania's premier mountain bike stage race, the Wildside MTB 2010, two weeks ago, Logie is shaping up as the strongest contender to dethrone Tasmania's Rowena Fry in the women's cross country event on Saturday morning.

One of Australia's best hopes for London 2012, Fry is the outright leader in the national series standings.

Dominating the event in Hobart and at the national championships in Adelaide, things didn't go quite according to plan for Fry in Shepparton three weeks ago, a puncture forcing her to settle for fourth place, despite a hard chase to regain ground. Fry bounced back the next day and dominated the short track, in which she hasn't been beaten yet this season.

Logie has been forced to play bridesmaid twice to Fry - both in Hobart and at the nationals.

"Rowena is the benchmark for all of us," said Logie. "The next two events in Thredbo and Stromlo (Canberra) are quite technical so they're definitely in Rowena's favour, and they'll play to her amazing skills on a technical singletrack."

"The last event in Stromlo (March 12-14) would have to be my best chance of beating her. If I can live and breathe the track for the next couple of weeks, and take advantage of my home track and home crowd I'm in with a chance."

Logie's rise through the mountain biking ranks has certainly been impressive. The former adventure racer only made the switch to the sport in October last year, an Achilles injury forced her to stop running, ultimately leading her to throw all of her energy into riding.

Although Logie has the motor to match it with the best, the technical aspects of the sport have been the 31-year-old's biggest hurdle.

"I have the base fitness and endurance however my technical skills still need a lot of work. One of my best attributes is that I don't have a lot of fear, however that means I fall off the bike a lot."

"The technical aspects have certainly been a challenge, however my improvement over the last four months has been incredibly fast."

Logie has already tasted success on the world stage - she was actually crowned world rogaining champion in 2006 - however she still has a lot of unfinished business on the international scene.

"My focus over the next six months is to improve my technical skills and confidence.

"I figure this is my chance. At the age of 31, I've given myself three to four years to see how fast I can go and see what I'm capable of. I would love to see how I would go on the world stage and compete at some World Cup events. I know I have a lot of work to do to improve my skills and gain race experience.

"Ultimately it would be great if Rowena and I could push each other to improve and put up a strong challenge for London 2012."

Meanwhile in other events in the Australian Mountain Bike series, the men's cross country has been a tale of two between current Australian champion Daniel McConnell and young gun Lachlan Norris who notched up his first win in the elite level at the last national series round in Shepparton.

Norris is expected to arrive in Thredbo in strong form, having recently returned from New Zealand where he won the king of the mountain title on the road in the Tour of Wellington.

In the downhill events, the husband and wife team of Chris Kovarik and his Canadian wife Claire Buchar will start as favorites in Thredbo.

Buchar's strongest challenge will come from fellow Canadian Leigh Douglas who won the opening round of the series just prior to Christmas in Tasmania, where she now lives, but had to contend herself with third at the second round in Shepparton.

In the absence of World Champion Caroline Buchanan, Queensland's Sarsha Huntington will take control of the women's four cross event, with American Barry Nobles who won on debut in Shepparton, starting as favourite amongst the men.

The four cross will happen on Friday, then cross country races take their turn on Saturday. Finally, the short track, enduro and downhill events conclude on Sunday.

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