Nine months after the end of last season, Whitehorse cross-country skiers Graham and Emily Nishikawa have added another win to their lists of accomplishments.
The siblings, who are both on the national cross-country ski team, won International Athlete of the Year for male and female at Sport Yukon’s Annual Awards Night on Thursday at the Westmark Whitehorse.
“I feel very honoured to have won this award,” said Graham in an email to the News. “There are lots of great athletes in all sports coming out of the Yukon these days. I never thought that I would reach this level in sport.
“I had a great season last year. I am most happy with my consistency all year long.”
Graham, who has won the award twice, became the Haywood NorAm Cup champion last year, accumulating seven victories on the circuit with 17 podium appearances. He also took in a top-30 results at a World Cup event in Falun, Sweden, finishing 27th in a 15-kilometre free event.
RELATED:See PDF of all the winners.
Emily, who won National/Territorial Athlete of the Year in 2008, produced great results nationally and internationally. She won three of the Yukon’s five medals, including a gold at the Canada Winter Games last February in Halifax and took gold at the 2011 Haywood Ski Nationals in Canmore, Alberta, in March. She also won a gold and bronze at the 2011 Eastern Canadian Championships, qualifying her for the 2011 Under-23 World Championships in Otepaa, Estonia, where she finished 16th in the 10-kilometre free.
“I was really excited to find out I won this award,” said Emily in an email to the News. “So many great athletes have won this award before, so I’m honoured to be among them.”
The Nishikawas were not the only siblings winning big at the ceremony.
Pelly Crossing’s Danielle and Kyley Marcotte won Team of the Year for their prowess in the 10-metre air-pistol.
In their first team event together – and Kyley’s first competition – the sisters won gold at the 2011 Canadian Grande Prix air-gun competition in January in Toronto. At the shoot, Danielle won gold in the female international juniors category and also in the finals, while Kyley finished first in the female sub junior category on the first day for a gold.
Danielle and Kyley then won Yukon’s first medals of the Canada Winter Games in February, taking gold in the team event before Danielle won a second gold in the individual women’s air pistol event. For the second gold, Danielle set three Canada Games records. Kyley came ninth in the individual event.
(The sisters also medaled individually at the Canadian National Pistol Championships in Calgary last August.)
The Nishikawas also weren’t the only cross-country skiers to win a major award – Whitehorse’s John Parry was named National/Territorial Male Athlete of the Year.
“I was definitely surprised, but honoured by the recognition,” said Parry. “I want to thank my coaches over the years because I really lucked out by never having a bad coach; I’ve had great support over the years. Nick Stratis was my first ski coach, then Grant Macdonald and then Grant Owen – the cycling coach – then my ski coach right now, Alain Masson. And Scott Jerome, from the University of Alaska, for investing in me five years ago and giving me a scholarship.
“I have a few local sponsors and they’re helping me reach my goals, in particular Gerry Thick at Northland Beverages … And of course my parents.”
Parry Represented the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games and then the Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club at the Haywood Nationals. He graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks this year where he helped the ski team win its fifth straight Alaska Nordic Cup, a dual meet between the University of Alaska Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses. At the Hilltop Invitational, an NCAA qualifier in January, Parry got his first collegiate win.
Parry will be competing on the Canada Cup circuit full time this season.
Taking in the corresponding female national/territorial award was Whitehorse Glacier Bears swimmer Mary Anne Myers.
“I guess I was a bit surprised because look at all the kids and all their accomplishments,” said Myers. “I was a little surprised, a little embarrassed – terrified. I had to stand up there and say something.
“I was certainly pleased because we older athletes also work hard and to be recognized is nice.”
Myers only had one meet this past year, but her performance was a doozey. At the Canadian Masters Swimming Championship last May in Montreal, competing in the women’s 55-59 division, Myers lost only one race, winning four golds and setting a national age-group record.
Myers won gold in the 400- and 800-metre freestyle, the 200-metre backstroke and also won a silver in the 100-metre backstroke. Her Canadian record, which gave Myers a fourth gold, came in the 400-metre individual medley. With a time of six minutes, 20.8 seconds, Myers broke the previous record by just over four seconds.
For his work with Yukon’s female representative hockey teams, Whitehorse’s Louis Bouchard was named Coach of the Year. Bouchard coached Yukon’s female hockey team at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax and later helped five of his players secure spots on Team BC for the Canadian championships. Just over a week ago, his team – formally the Northern Avalanche and now the Female Midget Mustangs – took fourth in Tier 2 at the Wickenheiser Hockey Festival tournament in Burnaby, BC. Last year, he pushed the team to silver at the Arctic Winter Games and a gold at the Wickenheiser tourney in Tier 3.
“I was honoured, surprised,” said Bouchard. “I’m glad we get recognized for the hard work – not just my hard work, but the hard work the whole female program has been putting itself through.
I’m by no means alone in that. Every manager and assistant coach that has worked with me shares in that glory as well. Laura and Kelly Eby, for one. Natasha Dunmall this year with Justin Quigley. Sue Roy has been helping out this year – we have a bunch of assistant coaches. Last year, we had Selina Kaytor and my daughter Alex, who had the vision to get the program going after the 2007 Canada Games. When the program died out, she pushed me to get it going.”
Though tennis is probably not the first sport to jump to mind when thinking about sports in the Yukon, Tennis Yukon president Stacy Lewis is working to change that.
Lewis was named Administrator of the Year at the ceremony after a very productive season for the tennis organization.
“I was very honoured. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last few years,” said Lewis. “But it was a surprise to be recognized and get the award at the banquet.”
Through Lewis’ leadership Tennis Yukon took over the lease of the four tennis courts at Mt. McIntyre from the city in July and helped fundraise for the courts to be resurfaced in August.
Tennis Yukon also sent a team down to the Western Canada Summer Games in August in addition to trips to tournaments in Juneau and Anchorage this year.
“We’re actually putting together a team to compete at the Senior Games in Cape Breton in the summer of 2012,” she said.
As well, Lewis helped Tennis Yukon head coach Jan Polivka get his Club Pro 1 coaching certification under Tennis Canada this past summer.
The awards ceremony also saw the posthumous induction of curling coach Suzanne Bertrand into the Yukon Sport Hall of Fame.
Bertrand first began volunteering at the Whitehorse Curling Club in 1981 and went on to affect uncountable lives as a coach, both at the junior and adult levels, from beginners up to the highest level of competition Canada has to offer, coaching at three Briers (the national men’s championship).
She also twice coached rinks at the Yukon/NWT Championships, three Canada Winter Games and several Arctic Winter Games.
“I thought it was great; it’s just awesome,” said son Chad Cowan. “It probably tops all of her achievements and gives her recognition for all her hard work in the sport of curling.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org