Beatty, Johnsgaard selected for junior/U23 worlds team

What a week it's been for Whitehorse cross-country skiers - and it's only Wednesday.

What a week it’s been for Whitehorse cross-country skiers – and it’s only Wednesday.

Whitehorse skiers Dahria Beatty and Knute Johnsgaard have been selected for Canada’s team for the World U23 and Junior Championships, Cross Country Canada announced Monday.

The news of the U23/junior team was followed by the announcement Canada’s Olympic team, which included Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa, on Tuesday.

For Beatty, making the junior worlds was high on her to-do list for the season.

In fact: “It was at the very top,” said Beatty.

Beatty and Johnsgaard qualified for Team Canada at the Haywood NorAm and Buff Sprints in Canmore, Alta., last week and over the weekend. The races doubled as selection for the U23/junior worlds and the Olympics.

“It was a big relief because my first couple of races were really disappointing,” said Johnsgaard. “I broke a pole in one race and in the other race things weren’t going my way.

Making the team “was just a big relief more than anything … I wasn’t sleeping very good, so I’m just glad it’s over.”

Beatty, who will compete in the junior division, and Johnsgaard, who will compete in U23, both finished up in Canmore with their best results.

Beatty skied to second place in the 10-kilometre skiathlon on Sunday. (Whitehorse’s Annah Hanthorn, who wasn’t selected for the team, placed fourth.)

“Going into the last race I knew if I had a strong race I would most likely be able to secure my spot,” said Beatty. “I’m really excited this year. The group of girls I’m going with are so strong, it’s a great group of skiers, so I’m looking forward to racing with them. Hopefully we can do well on the international scene and start bringing the level of skiing up in Canada.”

The 19-year-old Beatty took fourth in the junior women’s five-kilometre classic on Thursday. She also snagged fourth in a sprint Saturday after winning her semifinal.

Sunday’s race “was definitely the most positive of the weekend,” said Beatty. “I felt good all the way through and executed the plan I wanted to.

“I had some difficulties in the race on Thursday. I started a little too strong and too hard and then at the three-kilometre mark in the race I completely came unwound and my legs blew up. My body started shaking and it took everything I had to finish that race. I’m amazed I didn’t drop more places than to fourth.”

The junior worlds, which are taking place in Val di Fiemme, Italy, will be Beatty’s third.

Beatty took a 25th place finish at just 15 years old and was the top Canadian in 2010.

She also produced 23rd and 25th place finishes at the 2012 junior worlds.

This season marks Beatty’s last as a junior age skier.

“I was so pleased when Knute had a good race on Sunday morning, it inspired me to have one too,” said Beatty.

Johnsgaard finished the trials strong with seventh place in the 30-kilometre skiathlon on Sunday, in the open division against those racing for spots on the Olympic team.

The 21-year-old began the trials with 13th in the open men’s sprint last Wednesday and 14th in the 15-kilometre classic Thursday. Johnsgaard placed 12th in a second sprint Saturday after dropping out of the B final to save his legs for Sunday’s distance race.

“I broke a pole and didn’t make the final,” said Johnsgaard. “If you’re not in the (A) final, I didn’t have a chance to make the qualifying criteria by going into the B final. So there wasn’t any point in racing for seventh place.”

Johnsgaard, who is in his first year of skiing in the senior division, competed at the junior worlds two years ago in Turkey. He placed 49th in junior men skiathlon and 51st in the sprint for the second best Canadian finish.

“I got really sick when I was in Europe and I had terrible races, so I’m looking for some redemption this time,” said Johnsgaard.

Cross Country Canada named 10 skiers for the juniors and seven skiers for the U23 worlds that run from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3.

Team Canada skiers will leave Thursday for a training camp in Austria to begin the acclimatization process.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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