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Hanthorn gives 'breakthrough' performance at NorAm

Yukon Ski Team's Annah Hanthorn competed in two races at the Haywood NorAm in Rossland, B.C. over the weekend.

Yukon Ski Team’s Annah Hanthorn competed in two races at the Haywood NorAm in Rossland, B.C. over the weekend.

She ended up climbing the podium four times.

The 19-year-old was so quick on the trails, not only did she win the junior women’s races, she made the podium in the senior women’s division as well.

“We were cheering on the boys and one of the girls was like, ‘Have you seen your result, you want to look at it? ... You’re third.’ I was like, ‘Third junior?’ ‘No, third overall,’” said Hanthorn.

“So we all screamed and had a moment there, hugged each other. So I was definitely surprised.”

Hanthorn, who is a member of the junior national team, began the weekend with first for juniors in the open women’s 7.5-kilometre classic. She was also third overall behind two senior competitors, and just 13.8 seconds behind the gold medal winner.

Fellow Whitehorse skier Dahria Beatty was a spot behind Hanthorn, picking up a bronze as the third-place senior.

“It was surprising but very exciting at the same time,” said Hanthorn. “Overall, I’m very excited and happy with my results. Coming into it, I just wanted to make sure I was relaxed, ready, excited and happy to go.

“The first race, I finished and I wasn’t completely happy with my race because I thought my first lap had gone a bit slow and I felt like I had to go faster in the second lap to make up some time. But I was definitely OK with the race.”

Hanthorn kept up the pace on Sunday, capturing junior women gold in the 11-kilometre classic. She was just 21 seconds from the top time on the day, putting her second overall with senior women.

Beatty, who is a member of the national development team, placed seventh for senior women.

“It was totally a breakthrough weekend for Annah Hanthorn,” said Yukon Ski Team head coach Alain Masson. “It was a really good weekend for Annah. She was the best junior and under-23 skier as well.”

Hanthorn and Beatty weren’t the only Yukon skiers cracking the top 10 in Rossland.

Yukon’s Hannah Deuling, Natalie Hynes and Adrienne Hynes placed top 10 both days for junior women.

Deuling placed sixth Saturday (18th overall) and fifth Sunday (16th overall). Natalie, who just won her first Don Sumanik Cup in Whitehorse two weeks ago, came eighth Saturday and seventh Sunday. Sister Adrienne came ninth Saturday and 10th Sunday.

Yukon’s Marcus Deuling and Caelan McLean also reached single digits in Saturday’s 11-kilometre classic, placing fourth and ninth, respectively, in junior men. Marcus and McLean took 12th and 15th in Sunday’s 15-kilometre classic.

Other Yukon results include Alexis Gee placing 14th Saturday and 20th Sunday, Hannah Shier 15th and 19th, and Mira Mason 16th and 14th, all in junior women.

On the junior boys side, Simon Cash notched 12th and 13th, Mac Prawdzik 14th and 21st, and Hudson Lucier 21st and 26th.

Yukon Elite Squad’s Knute Johnsgaard, skiing in open men, came 11th overall on Saturday and 22nd overall Sunday.

“On Sunday, Simon Cash definitely had his best race in his young career,” said Masson. “Marcus Deuling was the fourth junior (on Saturday) and was his best race ever. Hannah Deuling on Sunday was sixth in open junior - she’s still a juvenile this year.”

“Some of the athletes made huge progress. We’re a lot fitter and are skiing a lot faster than in previous years.”

The Rossland NorAm was the third and final event used by Cross Country Yukon to determine Yukon’s ski team for the Canada Winter Games this February in Prince George, B.C. The roster was not released by press time, but Hanthorn, Beatty, Johnsgaard and Whitehorse’s Kendra Murray have been pre-selected to represent Yukon at the Games.

All four skiers, and plenty of other Yukoners, will be back in action for another NorAm this weekend at Silver Star in Vernon, B.C. The event is also the trials for the FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Ski Championships.

This past weekend’s NorAm was originally supposed to feature a free technique sprint Saturday followed by a distance classic Sunday. However, because of warm temperatures and a lack of snow, officials made a last-minute decision to make both races distance classics, which worked out fine for Hanthorn.

“That’s what I would prefer and is definitely my strength,” said Hanthorn. “Last weekend was a strength and something I enjoy - I like distance classic.

“This week it’ll be exciting to work on some of my weaknesses like skating technique and sprinting as well.”

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