Nishikawa the fastest on Canada’s relay team in Sochi

Even when she’s under the weather, Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa is leading Canada’s cross-country ski team at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.

Even when she’s under the weather, Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa is leading Canada’s cross-country ski team at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.

Nishikawa produced the fastest lap for Canada in the women’s 4×5-kilometre relay on Saturday.

Unfortunately, Nishikawa’s speed didn’t help the team’s placing, finishing 14th at the bottom of the field.

“The relay was lots of fun. It is such a hard event, but I am happy with my race,” said Nishikawa in an email to the News. “I am proud of how hard I was able to push myself even though I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent that day.”

Sweden took the gold in the event for the first time in 54 years. Finland followed with silver and Germany won bronze.

Canada’s Perianne Jones finished Leg 1 with a time of 15:50.9 before Daria Gaiazova finished her lap in 15:09.5.

Nishikawa then completed Leg 3 in 13:27.3 before anchor Brittany Webster finished in 14:45.9.

Though now on the mend, Nishikawa missed the women’s 10-kilometre classic on Thursday because of a flu-bug. Not only is the 10-kilometre classic her best event, it is the event that landed her on a spot on Canada’s Olympic team. She took first place in the event at the Olympic trials last month in Canmore, Alta.

Saturday wasn’t the first time of the Games that Nishikawa was at the vanguard for the women’s team.

She led the Canadian team in the 15-kilometre skiathlon on Feb. 8 in her first Olympic race of her career.

The 24-year-old came 42nd, ahead of Webster and Amanda Ammar, who placed 51st and 55th, respectively.

Nishikawa will finish her Olympic competition with the 30-kilometre skate this Saturday.

“I am starting to feel much better, looking forward to the 30-kilometre on Saturday,” she said.

Emily won’t be the only Nishikawa to ski in Sochi. Brother Graham was named to Canada’s team for the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Cross Country Canada announced last week.

Graham will be a guide for famed Paralympian Brian McKeever of Canmore, Alta.

“It’s a totally new and exciting event and I’m very honoured that they wanted me to come along,” said Nishikawa. “It is very rewarding helping other people out. It’s a nice change taking the focus off myself.

“Brian and I have been really good friends the past 10 years. We made a good situation work where I joined their training group and we trained together all summer.”

Graham didn’t have his best races and was not selected for Team Canada following the Olympic Trials last month. He will be one of three guides on the Paralympic team that includes 11 para-Nordic skiers and biathletes. Graham will be McKeever’s secondary guide after his main guide, Erik Carleton of Canmore.

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will take place March 7-16 following the Olympic Games.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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