Never before had three Whitehorse cross-country skiers competed together at a senior world championships and they made their presence known.
Knute Johnsgaard, Dahria Beatty and Olympian Emily Nishikawa were among the best on the Canadian team at the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships last week in Lahti, Finland.
Last week was Beatty’s first senior world championships.
“It was an awesome experience and it was so wonderful to have so much support from the Whitehorse ski club and community,” said Beatty in an email to the News. “I was really happy with how hard I fought in each race. During world champs my body wasn’t feeling as good as I had been the week prior … but I gave everything in each race and still had pretty strong and consistent results posting top-40s in all my races.”
Thanks to Beatty, Nishikawa and teammates Cendrine Browne and Katherine-Stewart Jones, Canada saw one of its best finishes in over a decade and a half.
The four placed 10th out of 15 in the women’s 4×5-kilometre relay on March 2, marking Canada’s third-best finish ever in the event and the highest since 2001.
“I struggled a bit and had higher hopes for my individual performances, but was thrilled with the relay race,” said Nishikawa in an email. “It is such a unique race where you are racing your heart out for your teammates and we all came together and did just that, so that was very special to share in that success with my teammates.”
“The relay was the most exciting race for me,” said Beatty. “My teammates skied great and it was so awesome to be able to anchor the team.”
Beatty also teamed up with Browne to place 13th out of 17 in the team sprint on Feb. 26. She opened the championships placing 37th in the women’s sprint as the top Canadian on Feb. 23. The 22-year-old followed that up with a 39th-place finish in the 10-kilometre classic on Feb. 28 and 34th in the 30-kilometre free on March 4.
“This was only my second 30K ever,” said Beatty. “I went out fast with the pack and tried to stay with the group as long as possible. It was a really hard but fun race.”
Nishikawa, who was competing at her third senior worlds, placed 38th in the women’s 15-kilometre skiathlon on Feb. 25 and was the second Canadian, one spot behind teammate Stewart-Jones. The 27-year-old also took 37th in the 10-kilometre classic and 40th in the 30-kilometre free.
Johnsgaard, like Beatty, was at his first senior worlds.
“I’m feeling quite run down at this point in the season but was quite happy with how I raced considering,” said Johnsgaard in an email. “I didn’t have any stand out results but every race was a great experience, something I hope I can build on leading into my next major championships — the Olympics next year!”
Johnsgaard finished the championships with a 55th in the 50-kilometre free on March 3, a race that saw Canadian Alex Harvey take gold. The 24-year-old also placed 56th in the 15-kilometre classic on March 1, finishing as the second Canadian. Johnsgaard’s top result was 53rd in the men’s sprint on Feb. 23 and he also placed 55th in the 30-kilometre skiathlon on Feb. 25.
“There was a big Canadian flag signed by a ton of up and coming Yukon skiers that made it all the way to Finland! That was awesome, and meant a lot to the three Yukoners on the start line for Canada, myself included,” said Johnsgaard.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org