Johnsgaard wins at XC championships

Yukon Elite Squad teammates Knute Johnsgaard and Colin Abbott didn't cut each other any slack at the Yukon Cross-Country Ski Championships at the Whitehorse Nordic Centre on Saturday.

Yukon Elite Squad teammates Knute Johnsgaard and Colin Abbott didn’t cut each other any slack at the Yukon Cross-Country Ski Championships at the Whitehorse Nordic Centre on Saturday.

The teammates were neck-and-neck the whole race, which was capped by a sprint to the finish.

Johnsgaard outpaced his teammate by a half second to win the open men’s division.

“Colin and I have been pretty close all year,” said Johnsgaard. “We’ve been skiing together for so long, we train together too, and we’re always neck-and-neck. It can go either way.

“I was lucky enough to get him this time at the finish.”

RELATED:See full results here.

Johnsgaard was awarded the Gordon Taylor Memorial Trophy for having the fastest time on the 12.5-kilometre course in the championships. It was the 20-year-old’s third time winning the trophy, capturing it in 2009 and 2010 as well.

An N.W.T. skier took the Gordon Taylor Trophy for the women.

Fort McPherson’s Annah Hanthorn had the fastest time on the 10-kilometre course, skiing in the junior girls division.

The second fastest on the course was her sister Ruth Hanthorn, also in junior girls, and third fastest was junior female skier Colae Swenson.

“I was very surprised and that was very exciting,” said Annah. “I love the Yukon and the trails – it’s awesome. It was great and the sun was beautiful.”

Annah, 18, who is a member of the N.W.T. Ski Team, won three silver medals at the Western Canada Championships the previous weekends in Grande Prairie, Alta.

Yukon Ski Team members Liam Mather and Hannah Shier won the Schiffkorn Family Trophy for the fastest time in the midget divisions.

Johnsgaard isn’t just a Yukon champion, he’s a national champ, too.

The Elite Squad skier won two gold medals and was the junior men’s aggregate winner at last year’s Haywood Ski Nationals in Quebec.

Abbott recently represented Canada at the FIS Nordic U23 World Ski Championships in January, taking 47th in a sprint race.

Johnsgaard was on Team Canada at last year’s World Junior and U23 World Ski Championships in Turkey, but didn’t make the team this season.

“The Elite Squad is going well,” said Johnsgaard. “We had a really solid summer of training.

“The early part of the season was a little bit disappointing. There were a lot of races, one after another, and I was starting to get a little burnt out. I wasn’t quite where I should have been. I felt like I could have been racing a bit faster than I had been the past couple of months.

“Now that I’ve been home, I had a good little break before westerns and now I have another break before nationals. So hopefully I can rest up and I’ll be in good shape for nationals.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

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