After a disappointing outcome in last week’s World Cup, finishing 26th in the 30-kilometre pursuit, Graham Nishikawa is back on familiar ground: the podium.
Competing in the Haywood NorAm in Rossland, BC, Sunday, Nishikawa took a silver medal in the men’s 15-kilometre classic.
“I’m definitely happy because last weekend at the World Cup I had a really bad race,” said Nishikawa. “This weekend I’m back where I should be—on the podium.”
Nishikawa finished just 29 seconds behind the hometown favourite, Olympian and national team member George Grey, who took bronze at last week’s World Cup in the team skate-sprint relay.
“He’s one of the best skiers in the world,” said Nishikawa. “I was close, so that’s positive.
“It was his home course, so I was up against the odds.”
Aggressive right from the start, Nishikawa led the race after the first of three five-kilometre laps but eventually conceded the lead to Grey.
“I went really hard off the start because in order to go to the World Championship in Scandinavia I had to win this race,” said Nishikawa. “So I essentially went for it.
“So I’m not going to the Worlds, which is a bit of a bummer.”
Racing in a 1.7-kilometre free technique sprint Saturday, Nishikawa finished in eighth place. Although he is not too concerned with sprint events, it is still a little disappointing since he finished the qualifying round in third.
“I’m not as strong in the sprints and it wasn’t an average day for me,” said Nishikawa. “I’m really focused on the distance racing. I use (the sprints) as warm-ups for the distance races.”
Nishikawa is now taking a couple weeks off before travelling to various locations in Europe to compete at the OPA Cup, the European equivalent to the NorAm circuit.
“It’s kind of like the World Cup ‘B’ circuit,” said Nishikawa. “It’s for developing skiers like myself. So it should be competitive racing … It’s going to be pretty intense.”
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