Nishikawa starts Games golden

When Whitehorse hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2007, Team Yukon won three medals in cross-country skiing. Now, with just one day of racing completed at the Games this week in Nova Scotia, the territory is on its way to surpassing that number.

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA

When Whitehorse hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2007, Team Yukon won three medals in cross-country skiing. Now, with just one day of racing completed at the Games this week in Nova Scotia, the territory is on its way to surpassing that number.

Team Yukon’s Emily Nishikawa brought the territory’s medal count to three golds by winning the women’s 7.5-kilometre free race on Monday at Ski Martock, north of Halifax.

“I’m just thrilled,” said Nishikawa, who finished with a time of 19 minutes, 37.6 seconds. “It was a great race. It was cool to put a race together like that and to be representing the Yukon is awesome.”

Nishikawa, 21, who is competing in her third Canada Games, won a bronze in 2007 in the 4×3.75-kilometre relay with teammates Janelle Greer and Heidi Brook, both of whom also competed on Monday.

“It went really well,” said Nishikawa. “It was a super fast course so I started hard and it was over before I knew it – 7.5 kilometres is a pretty short race for us.

“I went hard from the line and, because it was 30-second interval (starts), I didn’t ski with anyone out there, so I was out on my own.

“I felt really strong and I’m happy with the way it worked out for me today.”

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Also putting in a strong race was teammate Dahria Beatty, finishing seventh, coming in just under a minute behind Nishikawa.

“She was a little behind her performances from last year,” said Yukon head coach Alain Masson. “But this was a good race for Dahria.”

In fact, not a single Yukoner placed outside of the top half of the field in the race, with Greer coming in 11th, Kendra Murray 18th and Brook 26th.

In the men’s 10-kilometre free, Yukon’s top finisher was David Greer matching his sister Janelle in 11th with a time of 23:40.7, less than a second out of the top-10.

“He was in Europe the last two weeks. He came back this past weekend and is fighting a bit of a cold right now,” said Masson. “He has been feeling unwell the last two or three weeks, so we knew coming in that his chances of doing well were a bit slim.”

Finishing within a minute of Greer, who was the Yukon’s only gold medal winner in 2007, were teammates Colin Abbott in 15th, John Parry in 16th and Knute Johnsgaard in 22nd. Yukon’s Ray Sabo missed the race, stuck overnight in Chicago due to a snowstorm on Sunday.

“There weren’t any surprises in the men’s or the women’s races,” said Masson. “Emily has been the best skier under 23-years of age for two months now. So almost in every race, she’s the fastest.”

In Monday’s 2.5-kilometre sit-ski race, John Austring and Ramesh Ferris, the first athletes ever to represent the Yukon in a parasport at the Games, finished seventh and eighth respectively.

Nishikawa, and the rest of the Yukon crew, will be back on the trails Tuesday for sprint races.

“I am definitely looking forward to the sprint race tomorrow,” said Nishikawa. “I just have to get home now, recover and get ready for tomorrow’s race. There are still three races left this week, so there’s lots more.”

Yukon’s first medals, two golds won last week, came in target shooting, Pelly Crossing’s Danielle Marcotte won a gold in the women’s individual air pistol on Thursday, breaking three Canada Games records with her scores. A couple days earlier Marcotte, and her younger sister Kyley, won gold in the women’s team air pistol.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com