Yukon Ski Team’s Natalie Hynes has been cranking out great results so far this season. This past weekend she did it at home for a change.
After collecting multiple medals on the Haywood NorAm circuit down south, Hynes won the women’s trophy at the Don Sumanik Memorial Races at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club.
That’s now two years in a row she won the Sumanik Cup that goes to the fastest male and female skiers on the long courses over two days of racing. Whitehorse’s Colin Abbott won for the males.
It’s neat to have her named engraved on the same trophy as Olympians Emily Nishikawa, Lucy Steele and Becky Scott, said Hynes.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling winning a trophy with the names of skiers I really look up to,” said Hynes. “It’s unreal, really.”
Hynes, who at 17 is racing in junior girls, was the second fastest female skier Saturday in the five-kilometre classic with a time of 15:21.2. (Open women’s Kendra Murray clocked in at 15:17.7.)
Hynes was then fastest in Sunday’s 6.6-kilometre free at 22:08.4.
“I felt pretty strong,” said Hynes. “It’s cold out and it’s a bit of a shock coming back from Silver Star and Canmore where it was warmer. On the lungs it’s kind of tough. But I’m really happy to be back; I love racing in the Yukon.”
It had been a while since Abbott raised the Sumanik Cup for males. So long he wasn’t sure if he had before.
The 25-year-old produced the fastest times for males both days to earn a second etching of his name on the trophy – the first coming back in 2007.
“I’ve been racing this weekend for the last 15 years, almost. It’s been a trials – a selection for the Arctic Winter Games 10 years ago – and it’s still fun to come back every year. It’s become a bit of a December tradition to do this,” said Abbott. “So it feels really good to race well here. It’s a nice confirmation that I’m in shape and ready to race in other places in Canada.”
Abbott finished Saturday’s 7.5-kilometre classic in 21:53.6 and Sunday’s 7.5-kilometre free in 19:44.2.
“(Saturday) felt pretty exceptional,” said Abbott. “If I asked more from my body it would give me more and that’s always a special feeling. Technically it felt really good yesterday, really relaxed. Today was good, but I still have some things to work on in terms of being efficient in skate skiing.”
The Don Sumanik races, which saw 90 skiers compete Saturday and 50 on Sunday, were also team trials for Yukon’s ski team for the Arctic Winter Games this March in Greenland.
The team won’t be announced to later this week but it’s a safe bet Hynes will be on the list.
In addition to winning four medals in five races so far this season in Haywood NorAms, Haynes was also selected as second alternate for Team Canada at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. That’s a team that consists of just one male and one female skier – not a lot of spots, in other words.
Her successes so far this season have been a “surprise,” she said.
“At the beginning of the season you don’t know what to expect until you start racing. It’s been really fun. I’ve had a great time traveling with the team this year.
“It’s amazing having (coaches like) Alain (Masson) and Amanda (Deuling) there every week. And my parents of course. And just having teammates helping me out.”
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