Nishikawa cleans up at cross country ski nationals

Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa is taking some time off. The break is very well deserved. The 27-year-old national team skier capped a very busy month with three gold medals at the 2017 Haywood Ski Nationals last week in Canmore, Alta.

Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa is taking some time off. The break is very well deserved.

The 27-year-old national team skier capped a very busy month with three gold medals at the 2017 Haywood Ski Nationals last week in Canmore, Alta.

“It was a lot of racing this past week, but it has been a lot of fun,” said Nishikawa in an email to the News. “I am feeling pretty good considering all of the races I’ve done. Nationals was the end of the season for me, so I will take a bit of a break now to recharge and get ready for next season.”

Competing in the senior women’s division, Nishikawa won gold in the 10-kilometre classic (29:07.7) on March 21, gold in the 1.3-kilometre classic sprint on March 22, and gold in the 30-kilometre free (1:21:50.02) on March 25.

With the wins the Olympian earned the title of senior women’s aggregate champion for the second year in a row.

“Winning each of my races was incredible and such an honour,” said Nishikawa. “I think I am most proud of winning the sprint race because it is the first time I’ve won a national championships sprint title as a senior.”

With Nishikawa’s finishes, and a numerous other strong results by the Yukon Ski Team, the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club took fourth place out of 67 teams in the club aggregate standings.

Ontario/Quebec powerhouse Nakkertok claimed its eighth straight club title, ahead of Canmore and Alberta’s Foothills in second and third.

“It was challenging for everybody with the weather — a huge swing in temperature and snow conditions, but it’s the same for everybody,” said Yukon Ski Team head coach Alain Masson. “It was great for the open skiers. The junior skiers, I think the results were a bit down from previous years, but overall I think it was a great week.”

Nishikawa’s older brother Graham had his best nationals in years, placing second in the senior men’s aggregate standings.

The 33-year-old placed fifth in the 50-kilometre, just 13 seconds behind the winner, on March 25 and placed second overall — first for Canadians — for gold in the open men’s 10-kilometre classic (0:24:04.8) on March 19.

Graham skis with the national para ski team as a guide for famed Paralympian Brian McKeever.

Whitehorse’s Deuling family has plenty to be proud of. Siblings Marcus, Derek and Hannah each placed top-five in their respective Year of Birth (YOB) aggregate standings.

Marcus placed third in the junior men YOB 1997 standings with 10th in the 30-kilometre on March 25 and sixth in the 10-kilometre on March 19.

“I think it was his best results from the winter, so it was great for him,” said Masson.

Derek matched his brother’s finish with third in the juvenile boys YOB 2002. He placed top-10 in three distance races with a fourth in the 10-kilometre on the final day.

Hannah finished fifth in the junior girls YOB 1999. She topped out with fourth in the 10-kilometre classic on March 21.

Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard, who is on the national team with Emily, won a bronze in the open men’s sprint on March 22 and placed ninth in the aggregate standings.

Yukon Ski Team’s Michael Kishchuk skied to ninth in the junior boys YOB 1999.

Whitehorse’s Dahria Beatty — another member of the national team — finished ninth in the open women aggregate standings and seventh for U23.

The 22-year-old was one spot behind Nishikawa in the sprint, taking silver, and placed 12th in the 30-kilometre.

“I think she’s very tired from the season, so she was targeting the sprint,” said Masson. “In the longer races she was tired and not able to perform the way she would usually do.

“The same for Knute. Knute was very tired and he was sick at the end and couldn’t even start the 50-kilometre.”

Emily, Beatty and Johnsgaard all produced top-50 finishes at the FIS World Cup Finals the previous week in Quebec City. All three also raced for Canada at the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships a month ago in Finland.

“There are no races left for me this season, so I will take this opportunity to enjoy some spring skiing as well as take some rest so I am ready to train hard for next season,” added Emily.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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