In a superb performance under tough conditions, Yukoner Graham Nishikawa won his first Canada Cup race on Sunday in Valcartier, Quebec.
With the win, he also took over top spot in the Haywood Canada Cup race series, which tests elite athletes across the country.
Nishikawa and fellow national ski team member Dave Nighbor fought for the lead throughout the full 20-kilometre pursuit race.
Nishikawa controlled the last lap of the free technique portion to take the title by 14 seconds.
The victory was sweet for Nishikawa, who finished second behind Nighbor in both Thursday’s 15-kilometre classic race and Saturday’s 1-kilometre sprint.
“It was a great tactical race for Graham, who was thrilled with the victory. He just keeps getting stronger and stronger,” said coach Alain Masson in a release.
Along with putting him in the lead in the Canada Cup race series, the win clinched a berth for Nishikawa on the Canadian team, which travels to Slovenia next weekend for the World Under-23 Championships.
Fellow Yukoner Brittany Greer did not fare as well.
Suffering from a cold, she finished 27th in the open women’s 10-kilometre pursuit, although she struggled through to a fifth place finish in Saturday’s sprint race, winning the B final.
Rounding out the Yukon’s entries, Emily Nishikawa, competing in her first world junior trials, was only seconds behind Greer in the pursuit race and came in 14th in Saturday’s sprint competition.
It couldn’t have been a closer finish, with less than a boot length separating the top three women in the Sportees Sprints, held at the Mt. McIntyre on Saturday.
At the line, Janelle Greer got the nod from officials, taking the top place on the podium over Sara Neilson and a hard-charging Bryn Knight, who finished third.
Greer picked up double honours as the top junior as well as the top overall woman.
In the men’s race, Ray Sabo duplicated last season’s efforts and took top honours. Logan Potter was the top junior.
Both men’s and women’s categories featured tight competition as 45 skiers fought their way through successive knockout heats to the finals.
Using skating or free technique, the skiers first completed a qualification round to establish seeding order, then competed head to head in heats of four to six skiers, with the top two skiers from each heat moving to the next round.
The race, which was already postponed once due to lack of snow, was designed as a test of the new ski stadium designed for the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
“We’re really happy to be racing,” said Claude Chabot, chief of race for the day. “It’s been pretty frustrating for both athletes and officials waiting on the weather to co-operate. This race was a good opportunity to start tuning up our courses and officials as we gear up to the Northwestel Westerns in March and the Canada Winter Games next season — both pretty major events on both national and territorial calendars.”
The cross-country race season continues next weekend with the Don Sumanik races, which will also double as the Arctic Winter Games trials for skiers.
Rec league (Saturday)
Kopper King 11
Alwarid and Associates 4
Leading the scoring for the KK was Ryan MacKenzie with four goals and two assists. Dan Crawford had a hat trick and an assist. Jorday Johnston, Dan Cole Darren Van Langen and Graham Carruthers scored singles.
Alwarid scorers were Darrel Sturko, Shane Parker, Blayne Monahan, and Matt Ordish.
Yukon Appliance 4
Boston Pizza 3
Scoring for the Blues with two goals apiece were Jason Berkers and Cary Goodman.
Mike Young had two goals for Boston Pizza and Derek Johnstone had one.
Rec league (Sunday)
Narrow Gauge 1
Top scorer for SportsNorth was Linus Fraser with two goals and an assist. Alain Desrochers and Wade Hanna added singles.
Byron Gilday scored for Narrow Gauge.
Air North Jets 8
Kopper King 6
Greg Charlie and Gerry Grant led the Jets with two goals each. Singles added by Wes Marsh, Willy McKenna, Ryan Kinney and Ben Harper.
Jordan Johnston tallied three times for the KK with singles from Ben Cole, Ryan Hodgins and Ryan MacKenzie.
Environmental Dynamics 4
Alkan Air 3
Dynamic’s scorers were Andy Connors, Brian Douglas, Steve Smith and Jeremy Hookham.
Brent Melelburg had the hat trick for Alkan Air.
Oldtimers league (Sunday)
Medicine Chest 4
Scoring for Medicine Chest were Darryl Berube, with two goals and an assist, Kevin Neufeld with a goal and an assist, and Brian Eyolfson added a goal.
Brian Alp and Ed van Randen helped out with assists, while Mitch Malchow assisted on three.
Glen Traverse recorded the shutout.
Performance Centre 4
Klondyke Dental 2
Darrin Fredrickson, Bob Candow, Jeff Jensen and Gary Mailloux scored a goal each for the Performance Centre Turbos. Bob Parks and Laurie Malo had two assists each.
Larry Warner and Mitch Organ scored for the Klondyke Dental Molars.
Firth Rangers 6
AON Flames 3
Brian Boorse scored a pair for the Rangers, and added an assist.
Hector Campbell, Tim Vincent, Dave Ecker and Phil Bastien added goals as well.
Rob MacDonald and Dennis Shewfelt had two assists each.
Robert Thompson, Brian Fedoriak and Jim Giczi scored for the Flames, with Dave Milne and Gord Kuchler assisting.
Edgewater Windsors 7
Yukon Inn 6
Scoring for the Windsors
Steve McGrath’s hat trick led Edgewater over Yukon Inn, while Joel White, Mark Pinter, Guy Morgan and Jim Allen scored as well. Brent Stokes helped out with a pair of assists.
Woody Bennett and Mike Blower had two goals each, Bernie Adilman and Greg Bull added singles. Glen Heinbigner had three assists, while Dave Pearson helped out with a pair.
Over-35 league (Saturday)
Yukon Brewing 4
Assante Financial Management 6
Assante Financial Management stayed on top of the league with another win, as they beat Yukon Brewing. Rick Reaume scored three for Assante, and Ian Robinson scored twice, while Houshyar Ghandi added one.
Scoring for Yukon Brewing was Bob Baxter with two, David Michayluk with one and Angel Soto with one.
Quest dominated this game, with David Black putting in three, and Chris Donohoe adding two. Doug Hitch and Rick Reaume each scored once.
Simon Pulido put in a pair for Pepsi, and Ross Peterson and Doug Harris each scored once.
Klondike Copiers 6
Under-15 Badgers 3
The old guys lead the season series four games to two, with two games ending in ties.
Coed league (Sunday)
Sanchez Cantina 10
Traduction ABC Translation 5
Mitch Miyagawa scored three goals to lead Sanchez over the Translators. Jill Ford, Josh Wiebe and Mo Sahid scored pairs, and Anna Pugh added a single.
Mike Pare’s hat trick led scoring for the Translators, with Joanne Pare and Sadi (no last name) adding singles.
Pearson Dental 12
It was double triples and triple doubles as Pearson pounded Assante, both Greta Grey and John Miller scored hat tricks, while Karen Hougen-Bell, Lance Basnett and Simon Pulido scored pairs.
Geoff Zaparinuk netted three for Assante, Andrea Reti and Billy Bromwell added pairs, and Bill Bennett and Tim Shoniker scored singles.
Bocelli’s Rocks 5
Mic Mac Toyota 3
Dave Strachan scored a pair for Bocelli’s with Bruce Todd, Josh Wiebe and Andre Gagné scoring as well.
Toyota’s Simon Pulido scored two, and Bob Lewis added one.
Yukon Brewing 8
Caitlin Kerwin, Brent Mekelburg and Bob Baxter all scored pairs for Yukon Brewing, while Ryan Yaketeya and Skye Newnham added singles.
Geoff Bradshaw had a hat trick for Intersport, and Bill Willoughby added a single.
Other Intersport scorers were not available.