As if it wasn’t enough to have two Whitehorse skiers on the 10-person national team, locals Janelle Greer and Emily Nishikawa also led the way in a few races.
Competing at the World Junior & U23 Championships, which wrapped up Monday in Otepaa, Estonia, the two national team members returned with top-20 performances, reaching the status of top Canadian for their division in some events.
Competing in the women’s U-23 division, Nishikawa opened the championships with her best performance, coming 16th in the 10-kilometre free technique, not only finishing as the top Canadian, but the top North American.
“I was really happy with my 10-kilometre skate (free),” said Nishikawa. “Usually I prefer classic technique, but this year I’ve been skating pretty strong in skate as well. I’m happy it’s coming along. That was definitely the highlight of the week.”
Nishikawa went on to take 22nd in the 1.2-kilometre sprint (qualifying in 19th) and 25th in the 15-kilometre pursuit, in all of which she was the second Canadian.
The top Canadian in two junior women’s events, Greer was 35th in the five-kilometre free, 21st in the 1.2-kilometre sprint (qualifying in 20th) and grabbed 36th in the 10-kilometre pursuit.
“I am really happy with my performances!” wrote Greer in an e-mail to the News. “Especially the first two races, I wasn’t expecting to do that well; usually five-kilometre skate races aren’t my forte so it was a really nice surprise. And in the sprint I was just hoping to qualify top-30 to move on, so qualifying 20th was awesome.”
Greer also helped propel the Canadian relay team to an 11th place finish, running into a few difficulties during the race, in the first-leg’s 3.3-kilometre classic.
“I had a good start but on the third uphill I got tripped and pretty much belly-flopped on the trail and it took a while to get up because girls were going by me on both sides,” wrote Greer. “Once I got up my legs were full of lactic acid and I couldn’t really get back into the race.”
Both Nishikawa and Greer will be back on the trails in just over two weeks, this time representing the territory at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax with eight other Yukon skiers.
“I’m really looking forward to the Canada Games, I think it will be a great opportunity, and I am in good shape right now so I got to do my best,” said Nishikawa. “I’m really excited to represent the Yukon at the Games. It will be my third trip to the Canada Games.”
Nishikawa and Greer were on a bronze winning relay team with Heidi Brook, another skier on this year’s Games team, in the 2007 Games in Whitehorse.
“We’re looking to improve on that. I think we could be fighting for the gold,” said Nishikawa. “I think we have a really strong girls’ team this year, which is great.”
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