Johnsgaard, Nishikawa take second at eastern XC championships

After three days of racing, two Whitehorse skiers were on the podium at the Haywood NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships over the weekend in Cantley, Quebec.

After three days of racing, two Whitehorse skiers were on the podium at the Haywood NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships over the weekend in Cantley, Quebec.

Like the western championships two weeks before, the easterns used a mini-tour format, meaning skiers needed strong results in all three races to capture medals in the overall standings.

Knute Johnsgaard and Emily Nishikawa, did just that, taking second overall in their respective divisions. It bodes well for the two skiers as they turn their attention to the World Junior Championships and World U23 Championship later this month in Turkey.

“I’m pretty happy, (the eastern championships) showed I was able to keep up my performance – it doesn’t seem to be fading at all,” said Johnsgaard. “It’s a good sign and I feel in good shape for Turkey.”

Competing in the junior men division, Johnsgaard, 19, finished second in the 1.4-kilometre sprint, third in the 15-kilometre free and second in the 30-kilometre classic on Sunday. By placing second in the overall mini-tour, he took in a total of three silvers and a bronze.

At the western championships, Johnsgaard, who skis out of Quebec’s Pierre Harvey Training Centre, opted to ski in the senior men division. He nonetheless took in two top-20 results against the older skiers.

“That was to get more experience racing against the older guys, especially in the sprint races,” said Johnsgaard. “It really pushed me harder.

“The reason I didn’t do that in the easterns is because they were giving money for the overall top-three juniors,” he said. “I would have raced in the open again but I wanted the cash prize.”

Skiing in the senior women division, Nishikawa won silver in the sprint, gold in the 10-kilometre free and finished fifth in the 15-kilometre classic. The 22-year-old was on her way to another podium spot in the final race but got tangled up with another skier and fell about 500-metres from the finish line.

“I crashed pretty hard,” said Nishikawa, who won two golds and a silver at the westerns two weeks ago in Canmore, Alta.

Though fifth, her time was still enough to put her in second for the mini-tour standings.

“I was hoping to win the overall today but it was an unfortunate crash,” said Nishikawa. “Those kind of things happen all the time. Still I’m skiing well and I’m happy with how that’s going and I’m looking forward to Turkey now.”

The Yukon’s Kendra Murray put in some consistent results to finish sixth in the mini-tour for junior women. She placed sixth in the sprint, eighth in the 10-kilometre free and fifth in the 15-kilometre classic.

Three Whitehorse skiers reached top-20 in the senior men division.

David Greer finished seventh in the mini-tour after skiing to 13th in the sprint, sixth in the 15-kilometre free and ninth in the 30-kilometre.

At the western championships, Greer took fourth for his best result and placed eighth in the mini-tour.

Colin Abbott reached 15th in the mini-tour while teammate Lee Hawkings placed 17th.

Nishikawa, Johnsgaard and Greer are three of five Yukoners to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships and World U23 Championship. Also making Canada’s team are Yukoners Dahria Beatty and Janelle Greer. The team of five is the largest contingent the Yukon has ever sent to the championships.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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