Local skiers hold own on home turf

Even after celebrating her 16th birthday recently, Whitehorse's Dahria Beatty is one of the youngest skiers in the junior female category at this week's Haywood Cross-Country Ski Nationals in Whitehorse. But don't tell that to her competition, it might be too depressing for them.

Even after celebrating her 16th birthday recently, Whitehorse’s Dahria Beatty is one of the youngest skiers in the junior female category at this week’s Haywood Cross-Country Ski Nationals in Whitehorse.

But don’t tell that to her competition, it might be too depressing for them.

Beatty and other Yukoners have been registering strong results since the meet – which features about 400 of Canada’s top skiers – began on Sunday.

Partnered with teammate Janelle Greer, Beatty helped win gold in the challenge girls’ (born in 1992 or younger) junior female category for the team sprint event on Sunday, up four spots from teammates Heidi Brooke and Kendra Murray in fifth. Beatty then followed up Sunday’s golden performance with a second place finish in Tuesday’s junior female five-kilometre classic, just 1.7 seconds out of first and less than three seconds up from Greer, who took third.

“I just pushed really hard from the start and I felt like I had a pretty good race,” said Beatty. “I took it a little easy on the downhills to make sure I stayed on my feet, but skied really hard on the uphills. Conditions were really slow, so it was a lot of work.

“The top three girls were all within three or four seconds so it was a very close race.”

In Wednesday’s 10-kilometre free technique race, Beatty finished fifth, up 12 spots from the next top junior female Yukoner, Brooke in 17th.

“I tried to not start too hard and not have anything left at the end. So I had a really strong finish. I was able to pick up the pace and go faster for the last kilometre.

“I caught up to a girl in open women (division) that passed me earlier, so that was good.”

Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard has been another local skier seeing strong results. Partnered with Jeff Wood in the junior male’s team sprint event on Sunday, the two battled back from fifth to take gold.

“I’ve raced on the course before and I know the trails really well,” said Johnsgaard. “So I know what to expect. I know when to push hard and when to pace myself.”

Johnsgaard continued to produce in the following races, taking sixth in Tuesday’s 10-kilometre classic and fourth in Wednesday’s 15-kilometre free, winning the 1992 age section of the junior male division.

“It was an excellent race for me,” said Johnsgaard. “I like any distance race, anything over 10-kilometre is good for me.

“It was a pretty hard course but I had really good skis and it just turned out good. The conditions were a little bit tough, there was a little bit of fresh snow, but we had fast skies.”

After a disappointing 41st-place finish in Tuesday’s 10-kilometre in the open male division, Whitehorse’s Colin Abbott bounced back for a 13th overall finish in the 15-kilometre free event Wednesday, placing him third in the Canadian College and University Nordic Championships (CCUNC) category.

“It’s sort of a race within a race; they pick out the skiers at university and give them medals accordingly,” said the Carleton University student. “It gives you a little more incentive to keep skiing.

“I didn’t have a very good start to this race series; I had one of my worst races this year, so I was hoping for some redemption today. My body let me down yesterday. I wasn’t sick, per se, there wasn’t anything glaringly wrong, I just didn’t have the kick I needed.

“I picked it up today and finished more where I wanted to be.”

Yukon’s David Greer, partnered with teammate Ray Sabo, was fourth in the open male division in Sunday’s sprints, was 14th in Tuesday’s 10-kilometre classic and 13th in Wednesday’s 150-kilometre free event. Open female division skier Emily Nishikawa came seventh on Tuesday and ninth on Wednesday.

Murray finished in the junior female, 1993-age category on Tuesday and 30th overall on Wednesday in the 10-kilometre free technique race.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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