Finishing less than six and a half seconds behind the top sprinter in the world sounds pretty impressive.
However, racing on the intensely competitive World Cup sprint circuit, Graham Nishikawa discovered that it’s only good enough for 52nd place.
That was the result in Canmore last Saturday in the men’s 1.2-kilometre sprint, as Nishikawa battled it out in the qualification round to try and win a place in the heats, and ultimately, to get onto the podium.
Despite the placing, Nishikawa was pleased with the result.
“I was so close,” he commented after the race.
“I was only two-and-a-half seconds off qualifying, and I got the best FIS (International Ski Federation) points I’ve ever received in a race.
“At this level, I don’t even know if I’ve had a good race or not, I just go as hard as I can and hope to qualify.”
The race was eventually won by Sweden’s Emil Joensson, who outsprinted a Russian and a Finn to take the men’s title in a photo finish.
On the women’s side, Canmore hometown favourite Chandra Crawford delighted the thousands of fans lining the fast, relatively flat course as she claimed her first ever World Cup victory.
Crawford used a combination of superb gliding ability and tactical smarts to top the podium.
On the day before, Nishikawa raced a tough 15-kilometre free technique race, finishing in 50th place, less than three minutes behind Italian Valerio Checchi, who claimed gold in the event with a time of 36:04, despite the cold and slow conditions.
Racing in her first-ever World Cup event, sister Emily Nishikawa raced to a 53rd position finish in the women’s 10-kilometre race, finishing 6:52 behind Ukrainian Valentina Shevchenko.
Graham now heads off to Ottawa to compete in the Eastern Canadian Championships which begin next weekend, while Emily goes to Wisconsin to compete in a series of U.S. regional races.