Graham Nishikawa demonstrated to the Canadian ski community that he is a force to be reckoned with as he scored a decisive victory in the Open Men’s 20-kilometre continuous pursuit race on Saturday.
The race, held in Quebec City, consisted of a 10-kilometre classic loop followed by a 10-kilometre free technique loop on a cold, snowy course.
Nishikawa covered the hilly 20-kilometre race route in just over 58 minutes, including the time it took to switch skis and poles between the two loops.
Former national team member Robin McKeever was 11 seconds behind in the hard-fought race that attracted a field of over 60 in the intensely competitive open men’s category.
The fatigue from Saturday showed a little as Nishikawa lined up once again on Sunday to race a 10-kilometre classic race. Still, he finished a strong fourth place, only 17 seconds behind winner Alex Harvey, who had skipped the Saturday race.
The Noram races have been a major test of stamina of late, as the men have competed in seven races in the series over the last three weeks. Nishikawa had some disappointing results in the first few races, but has been getting better and better as the season progresses.
Yukon ski team head coach Alain Masson noted that “the competition in this series is intense. There are at least 10 men in each event that have the potential to win and they are all hungry.”
The skiers, most of whom train full time, are all vying to either keep or gain coveted spots on the Canadian National team as the country gears up towards the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The only other Yukoner competing in Quebec was National Junior Team member David Greer, who finished 8th on Saturday and 7th on Sunday in the junior men’s category. Greer, after a stellar season last year, is feeling tired as he adjusts to training full time.
The skiers now get a well-earned break from racing, as the Noram series enters a one-month hiatus.
Salvation Army 6
Salvation Army’s Kurtis Hills and Brittany Milner scored two goals each, and Emily Dorosz and Thomas Mostyn scored as well. Aric Hansen took the MVP nod.
Harold Risby scored three for ReMax, and Clay Limacher and Alex Hopkins scored as well. Eric Fekete was named player of the game.
Whitehorse Star 10
Kluane Mechanical 2
Matthew Smith led the Star with a four-goal night, while Graham Mainer-Pearson and JJ Paul scored two each and Stacey Macklon and Jeni Pierce added goals as well. MVP honours went to the whole team on this one.
Kluane Mechanical’s scorers were Harley Gudbranson and Garret Heynen. Sebastian Lapres took the MVP honours.