The Monique Waterreus Award is usually presented to the Whitehorse junior skier with the strongest national performances over the previous season. This year international performances tipped the scales.
As the only Whitehorse skier to compete at the Junior World Championships last season, finishing as the top Canadian in two races, cross-country skier Janelle Greer was given the Waterreus Award at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club annual general meeting last Wednesday.
“It’s great; I’m really happy about that,” said Greer. “It’s usually based on the nationals, but I got an email from Claude (Chabot, executive director of the Whitehorse club,) that this year it’s mostly based on my results in Europe.”
“We have lots of good junior skiers that compete nationally, but last year she was definitely the best from Whitehorse,” said Alain Masson, head coach of the Yukon Ski Team. “She is very good technically, very efficient technically, she is a very good competitor, so she’s able to put everything together on days that really count. She has a good attitude towards competition. To make it to that level, you need a combination of skills and she obviously has many of those.”
At the Junior World Championships at the start of February in Otepaa, Estonia, Greer was the top Canadian in two junior women’s events, coming 21st in the 1.2-kilometre sprint (qualifying in 20th), 34th in the five-kilometre free, and also grabbed 36th in the 10-kilometre pursuit.
“That was my second time that I had been to the world juniors,” said Greer. “It’s always great to see racers from other countries, see what they do differently, how they train and prepare for races. It’s a lot of fun to go to.”
Greer qualified for the worlds at the Haywood NorAm World Junior/U23 Trials in January at Thunder Bay, taking second in the sprint, fifth in the pursuit, and fourth in the distance skate race in the junior women division.
At 19, this season is the last she will be eligible for the World Junior Championships, placing it at the top of her to-do list.
“That’s definitely my goal,” said Greer. “I’d love to go to that and, hopefully, place between top 15 and 20 in a race. This year it’s a skating sprint, which might not be beneficial for me. I don’t know, I guess we’ll see when the season starts.”
Though excelling internationally, Greer also produced stellar national results last season.
At the 2011 Haywood Ski Nationals in Canmore, Alberta, where she attends the Alberta World Cup Academy, Greer won gold with Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa in the women’s team event. She also came 11th in the 10-kilometre and 16th in the sprint.
Nishikawa and Greer are two of five Whitehorse skiers on Canada’s national team, along with senior Graham Nishikawa, and juniors Knute Johnsgaard and Dahria Beatty, last year’s recipient of the Waterreus Award. (Of the 25 spots available on Canada’s national cross-country teams, Yukoners occupy five, more than BC and Ontario combined.)
Competing for the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games at the start of the year in Halifax, Greer finished 12th in the sprint and 7.5-kilometre free, and then cut that in half to take sixth in the 10-kilometre classic. She also helped Yukon’s relay team reach fourth.
At the first NorAm races of the season last December in Vernon, BC, Greer won gold in the classic sprint.
Greer first competed at the Junior World Championships in 2009 at Praz-de-Lys, France, competing against skiers two to three years older than herself. There, Greer finished 34th in a 1.3-kilometre classic sprint – a benchmark for the territory – and was the third Canadian to cross the finish line. Racing in a 10-kilometre pursuit, Greer took 37th out of a field of 70 and was the first Canadian over the line and only the second of her age in the event. She qualified for the worlds with a third- and two fourth-place finishes at the World junior Trials in Canmore, Alberta, the previous January.
She was also the juvenile aggregate winner at the 2007 Haywood Nationals.
Monique Waterreus, an inductee of Sport Yukon Hall of Fame in 1991, began competing in cross-country skiing nationally and internationally in 1976 at age 15.
Over her career she accumulated 10 Canadian Championship medals including six gold at the junior level. She twice represented Canada at the World Junior Championships, competed in numerous World Cup races in Europe and Canada, and won the season-long NorAm race series in the 1981/82 season. In 1982 she won the International Ski Marathon in Sapporo Japan. She is also a four-time recipient of Sport Yukon’s Female Athlete of the Year award and was given the Commissioners Award in 1982.
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