New elite ski team ready to race

Whitehorse has been producing some of the country's best cross-country skiers for years. Three Whitehorse skiers are on national teams and are training full time at the Alberta World Cup Academy in Canmore, Alberta.

Whitehorse has been producing some of the country’s best cross-country skiers for years. Three Whitehorse skiers are on national teams and are training full time at the Alberta World Cup Academy in Canmore, Alberta.

But five of Whitehorse’s best are taking another route.

Instead of training at an Outside academy, David Greer, Knute Johnsgaard, Colin Abbott, John Parry and Fabian Brook have combined to form the Yukon Elite Squad (Y.E.S.).

“For a while now, all of us wanted to do something like this,” said Greer. “It just hasn’t worked out timing wise. This coming season everything fell into place for us and it seemed like the right time to do it.”

The strength of Y.E.S., which was formed in April, is not just that each member is a high-level athlete, but that they know how to train properly and can motivate each other.

Greer spent the last five years at Quebec’s Pierre Harvey Training Centre. Johnsgaard was at Pierre Harvey the last two years. Abbott was at the Callaghan Valley Training Centre last year in Whistler, B.C. Parry spent four years skiing NCAA for the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“I’m really happy with the time I spent there and I’ve learned a lot, and I’m very grateful for the training I’ve done there, but I thought it was time to do something new,” said Greer.

With the exception of Brook, who is fresh out of high school and, at 18, the youngest on the team, “the rest of us have been training full-time with other training centres across Canada and have definitely picked up a lot over the years,” said Greer. “So we know how to train, we know what’s best for us, so we don’t need a full-time coaching staff that other centres have.”

All five Y.E.S. members were born and raised in the Yukon and have skied on the Yukon Ski Team. Three have been on the Junior National Team and one on the National Development Team. Three have competed at the World Junior/Under 23 Championships.

The five together have accumulated 12 national titles.

“I don’t think the Yukon has ever had this many high-level men’s skiers, all from the same generation, that can do this,” said Greer. “I think this is the strongest generation of skiers we’ve ever had in the Yukon.”


The Y.E.S. skiers haven’t turned their back on where they got their starts. They are all members of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club and the Yukon Ski Team. In fact, Alain Masson, who is the head coach for the Yukon team, also coaches Y.E.S.

“We’re all members of the team, we’re just off to the side in our own sector,” said Greer. “The club mostly trains those who are young and after school.”

The off-season was a busy one for Y.E.S. In addition to roller skiing on pavement, the team spent weeks on snow, training on the Denver Glacier outside of Skagway, Alaska, and the Eagle Glacier outside of Anchorage, Alaska.

“We’ve had an amazing summer of training, really diverse, really unique,” said Parry. “We did two on-snow glacier camps. So we spent a good portion of July and August up in the mountains on snow.

“Two things I’d say that have made it great up to this point are, for one, the unique training opportunities that we get up north here, as well as the strength of our numbers and our drives and how we push each other to achieve our personal best in training every day.”

Their eight training sessions a week have paved the way to wins in other sports.

All five were members of Team Scarecrow, which won its third consecutive open title at the Klondike Trail of ‘98 Road Relay running race in September.

Johnsgaard, Greer and Parry – and former member Ray Sabo – won the four-person men’s division in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay in June.

In the annual Haeckel Hill Run in Whitehorse, Y.E.S. members, including Sabo, took the top six spots in the race.

“When we were younger in high school we’d always do these events, but in the past couple of years we’d always be gone,” said Greer.

Y.E.S. has some lofty, yet obtainable, goals for this season.

Abbott and Johnsgaard are both in the under-23 age group while Brook is still a junior, so those three are hoping to qualify for this season’s World Junior/Under 23 Championships.

Greer and Parry, and any teammate who doesn’t make the worlds team, will focus on the Haywood NorAm Series in Canada. This year there are also two FIS Cross-Country World Cup events coming to Canada and are the first world cups held in North America in a couple years. The world cup races are firmly in the team’s sights.

“We all have a good chance at making those world cups, so it’ll be pretty exciting to have those world cups in our home country,” said Greer. “It’s a big deal. All the best guys in the world will be there. To be able to perform in a race like that would be huge. So that’s definitely a goal for us.”

It’s a little early to be looking past this season, but Y.E.S. hasn’t ruled out expanding the team next year to include other skiers, including females. The Yukon has some very talented female skiers, including national team skiers Emily Nishikawa and Dahria Beatty, and Greer’s sister Janelle, who is currently training at the Alberta World Cup Academy.

“If the girls see that what we’re doing is a success, and would like to do something like that, we would definitely support that,” said Greer.

“We did have interest from skiers down south outside of the Yukon,” he added. “We decided, for the first year, it would make matters simpler, to keep it for Yukon residents only.”

More information can be found at Y.E.S.‘s website at

“We’ve all achieved personal bests; we’ve shattered some of our previous records in the weight room, on the road, on the trails; we’ve completed a huge spectrum of training; and now we’re narrowing our focus on the Canada Cup circuit and the domestic world cups,” said Parry. “We’re more motivated than ever and we’re ready to go for it.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. On Nov. 24, Silver and Hanley announced masks will be mandatory in public places as of Dec. 1, and encouraged Yukoners to begin wearing masks immediately. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read