Beatty wins double cross country gold

YELLOWKNIFE Yukon cross-country skier Dahria Beatty has claimed two gold ulus after two days of competition.

YELLOWKNIFE

Yukon cross-country skier Dahria Beatty has claimed two gold ulus after two days of competition.

The 14-year-old Arctic Games veteran won the 2.5-kilometre classic on Monday and the 500-metre freestyle sprint on Tuesday.

And she’s not even close to being finished

“Sprints are fun, and I’ve gotten a lot better at them over the last year, but I do prefer longer races,” said Beatty, after her fourth race of the day.

Beatty was confident going into the sprint finals on Tuesday, after winning her qualifying heat by over four seconds.

She’s already looking ahead to her next race on Wednesday – “We’ve got the distance skate race, and a mass start, which I’m looking forward to, because you get to go head-to-head with the other competitors,” said Beatty.

Wednesday was supposed to be a rest day, but the cold temperatures forecast for Friday forced the remaining races to be pushed forward a day.

It’s tough on the skiers to race four days straight, but veterans like Beatty and Ziggy Reimer know their bodies well enough to keep racing without a rest day.

“I’m so exhausted,” said Reimer after her fourth sprint of the day at the YK Ski Club, where a cold wind complicated things for competitors who skied heats starting around 10 a.m. and finished at 4:30 p.m.

 “My trick is to lie on my back, and rest my legs on the wall — you can feel the lactic acid draining out of your legs, it’s great.”

Many of Yukon’s best skiers opt out of the Arctic Games, because the national championships often run at the same time or the week after.

“If a skier wants to do well at the nationals, there’s no way they could do both events,” said Yukon coach Sara Nielsen. “It’s unfortunate that those athletes have to choose, because the Arctic Games are so much fun.

“On the positive side, that opens the door of the Arctic Games for many younger and less-experienced skiers.”

Some members of Team Yukon are skiing up two age groups, because of holes in the roster.

“I’m very impressed with the younger skiers; they’re running around in a big mob, having a great time,” said Nielsen.

The presence of skiers from the Russian province of Yamal, and the Sami of northern Scandinavia adds a new element to races.

“It’s really cool, we’re not just racing against them, we get to meet them, and see their culture, and their style of skiing,” said Beatty.

Coach Nielsen said that the Sami, especially, are known as the originators of skiing.

“It’s in their blood, and even if we don’t speak the same language, we communicate through our sport.”

Other Yukon ulu winners in cross-country skiing are Fabian Brook, who took a silver in the 2.5-kilometre classic on Monday, and Nesha Wright, who won a bronze in the same event.