Nishikawa siblings give breakout performances at World Cup

Graham and Emily Nishikawa were born six years apart, but the Whitehorse siblings gave their best performances yet on the same day. The Nishikawas produced their strongest world cup showing on Sunday in Canmore, Alta.

Graham and Emily Nishikawa were born six years apart, but the Whitehorse siblings gave their best performances yet on the same day.

Competing at the Alberta World Cup, which featured 221 of the best skiers from 20 countries, the Nishikawas produced their strongest world cup showing on Sunday in Canmore, Alta.

Facing the best in the world, Graham raced to 15th in the 30-kilometre skiathlon – 15 kilometres of classic followed by 15 kilometres of skating – in senior men.

Graham’s previous best at a world cup was 27th last year in Sweden. (Graham also placed 17th in a world cup in Russia in 2010, but that race only had about 23 entered due to cold weather.)

He was also the second Canadian over the finish line on Sunday with Ian Babikov placing 12th.

“That was a really special day. That was probably my best-ever race and was my best result ever in a world cup,” said Graham, who finished just 22 seconds behind the winner. “It was just a really memorable day.

“It shows I can be competitive with the best in the world. For me, I’ve been at this for a while, and this is the breakthrough I’ve wanted for a long time. I’m just really, really happy.”

Graham also placed 38th in the men’s 15-kilometre mass start classic on Thursday, coming in 2:22 behind the leader.

“Thursday was super hard and I think that effort got me to the next level in my fitness and Sunday it all came together,” said Graham. “I had really good skis and really good shape and I was able to hang in with the guys for 30-kilometres (on Sunday).

“I was just so surprised when I crossed the line. It was so good for my confidence, knowing I can compete with them.”

Emily sped to 34th in the 15-kilometre skiathlon with a time of 46:30.7 in the senior women division on Sunday.

She was the top-Canadian ahead of 11 others and just 15 seconds from cracking the top-30.

“It’s a big benchmark: to get into the top-30 is really a big achievement and I was really close to that,” said Emily. “I’m kind of hungry for more now. I’m looking forward to getting into that top 30.


“It was definitely one of my best world cups ever and it felt great during the race, so I’m really happy with it,” she added. “The winner, (Poland’s) Justyna Kowalczyk, had a huge lead. She broke away from the whole field … I was about three minutes back from Justyna, but she was about a minute ahead of the second place finisher.”

Emily’s previous best finish at a world cup was 46th in Estonia last year.

She also placed 48th in a field of 63 in the 10-kilometre mass start classic technique on Thursday and 48th in the sprint on Saturday.

“It was good to get that experience in and it was good for me to give a hard effort on Saturday – it set me up well for Sunday,” said Emily.

The Nishikawas were joined at the world cup by Whitehorse’s Darhia Beatty and David Greer.

At just 18, Beatty’s presence in her first world cup was an achievement on its own.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Beatty. “I was really nervous for the first race because I was just so new and there were so many amazing competitors there. It was hard to think of it as just any other race. In the races after that I was able to calm my nerves and they went a lot better.

“I learnt so much from it.”

As the third youngest skier in the senior women’s division, Beatty placed 57th on Thursday, 55th in the sprints Saturday and 54th in the skiathlon.

“The sprint, for me, felt the best,” said Beatty. “It was a really exciting atmosphere and because it was so much shorter, you could go so hard for the whole time.

“There were people lining the entire course the whole time. That race went the best for me; I think I skied it really well. I left everything out there.”

Unlike the other Yukoners, Greer opened with his best result, taking 47th in the 15-kilometre classic in open men on Thursday.

It was Greer’s first world cup appearance. He qualified for world cups last year but went to races in Europe instead.

“I didn’t have the best performances of my life, but it was still a fun experience,” said Greer in an email to the News. “The level at the world cup is really high, racing against the best skiers in the world, but it was actually encouraging to see that I could keep up with the leaders for a couple laps even though I wasn’t racing my best.

“I would like to get another world cup start sometime soon because I know I can do better.”

Greer, who is a member of the new Yukon Elite Squad based out of Whitehorse, went on to take 51st place in Sunday’s skiathlon.

“Thursday’s race was OK, nothing special, but a solid race nonetheless,” said Greer. “Sunday’s race wasn’t so hot. I felt terrible in the classic portion – for a moment I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish the race!”

Last-minute entries Knute Johnsgaard and John Parry, who are also on the Yukon Elite Squad, placed 56th and 61st respectively on Sunday.

Up next for Yukon’s top skiers is a Haywood NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, early January. The event is another big one. In addition to being the Junior/U23 World Championship qualifier, it is also a World Senior Championship qualifier.

“Those are the races I have to do well in to make the world championship team,” said Emily. “I’m looking ahead to that already. But my result on Sunday is definitely a good confidence builder going into that.”

Beatty, who has already competed at two junior worlds, is eligible for two more before going into the under-23 division.

Contact Tom Patrick at

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

Just Posted

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

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

Most Read