Team Yukon loses two medal contenders for Games

This week, just before the release of Yukon's roster for the Canada Winter Games, two high-profile names were removed.

This week, just before the release of Yukon’s roster for the Canada Winter Games, two high-profile names were removed.

Cross-country skier Dahria Beatty and freestyle skier Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon will no longer compete at the Games, which begin Saturday in Prince George, B.C.

Beatty, who has decided to race in Europe, and Geoffroy-Gagnon, who is out with an injury, were medal hopefuls for Yukon.

“(Beatty is) one of the highest ranked skiers in under-23, which is what Canada Games is for skiing,” said cross-country ski team head coach Alain Masson. “Fortunately with Kendra Murray and Annah Hanthorn, we still have two skiers who are ranked among the best in Canada.

“So we still have a very strong women’s team, but Dahria would have been one of the highest ranked skiers we had for the women.”

“It’s huge and we are disappointed, but he came to the decision himself and was very mature about it,” said Lynda Harlow, president of the Yukon Freestyle Ski Association and mission staffer for the freestyle team. “We were hoping he could get out on skis on the weekend to try but because of the cold weather he hasn’t been able to train for weeks now.”

Beatty raced for Canada at the FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Championships 2015 last week in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She led the Canadian team in the sprints on Feb. 3, placing 20th, and then claimed 30th in the 10-kilometre free two days later.

With those strong results, the national team member decided to stay in Europe for more major races.

“I will be racing in Latvia then Estonia in the Scandinavia Cups and then going to Lahti, Finland after that before returning to Canada in mid march for the Haywood Ski Nationals,” said Beatty in an email to the News.

Beatty won five medals, including three gold, and placed first in the junior women aggregate standings at the Haywood nationals last year.

Yukon’s Knute Johnsgaard and Annah Hanthorn, who also competed in Kazakhstan, are returning to compete in Prince George.

Geoffroy-Gagnon suffered an ankle injury during a practice run before a competition at Big White Ski Resort just outside of Kelowna a month ago.

He became the first Yukoner to win a gold medal – collecting three in total – at the Canadian Junior Freestyle Skiing Championships last March.

“He is understandably upset about it and we all feel so bad for him,” said Harlow. “Lucky for us though, Dylan Reed has been training really hard as is going now for us. He has been skiing really well, training hard and is at the top of his game, so we expect to see some pretty exciting stuff from him as well.”

Freestyle skiing will take place in week one and cross-country skiing in week two at the Games.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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