Dahria Beatty won the Yukon’s first gold medal at this year’s Haywood Ski Nationals in Thunder Bay, Ont.
The 21-year-old, who cleaned up last year’s event as a junior with five medals, won her first title as a senior skier in the five-kilometre skate race on Sunday.
She came out on top in a field of 71 racers, beating second-place finisher Perianne Jones by 3.7 seconds.
The win came as a bit of a surprise for both Beatty and Yukon head coach Alain Masson.
The skate race isn’t normally her best event, Masson said.
But both times she’s been on top of a national podium this year, it’s been for a skate race.
“I love five-kilometre races so I just went out hard,” Beatty said.
“They’re almost over before you know it. I’m usually stronger in the classic races but worked really hard on my technique last summer.”
Beatty said that included a lot more roller skiing and working on the roller ski treadmill at the Alberta World Cup Society facility in Canmore, Alta.
“I definitely think my technique has greatly improved in skating this year, I’m able to hold the proper position even if I get tired. In the past I’d sort of lose it.”
It’s been a very busy 2015 for Beatty so far.
Cross-country races have taken her to Latvia, Finland, Estonia and even Kazakhstan.
She said the fatigue may have contributed to her fifth-place finish in yesterday’s 10-kilometre classic, a race in which Whitehorse Olympian Emily Nishikawa won.
“I’m always happy to be in the top six on the podium,” Beatty said.
“If you have a good race you always try to hold onto that feeling for the next one. I’m tired overall from the long season but I know everyone here is too, especially those of us who’ve raced in Europe.”
The Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club, represented by 18 skiers at the nationals, sat in third place in the overall club standings as of Tuesday afternoon, Masson said.
Last year, it placed second out of 59 clubs.
Masson said the younger skiers have done particularly well, especially those racing in their first big events.
The club won three bronze medals on Sunday and had six top-20 finishes overall.
On Monday, it did even better with five top-10 finishes.
Racing conditions have been tricky this week. Warmer temperatures during the day are causing the snow to melt, while freezing temperatures overnight are causing ice. It even led to Knute Johnsgaard breaking a ski pole during his open men 10-kilometre race on Monday. He still managed to finish ninth.
“Lots of crashes and broken equipment,” Masson said.
The club still has two more sprint races, as well as the mass start on Saturday, the day the event ends.
Beatty said she’s excited to take part in her first ever 30-kilometre race.
“It’s the longest I’ve ever raced, so I’m not really sure what to expect,” she said.
“But I’m looking forward to it and we’ll see what happens.”
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