Nishikawas, Beatty keep spots on national teams

Cross Country Canada has again tapped into the Yukon ski scene to boost talent levels on its national teams for next season. Three Whitehorse skiers have been added to national team rosters, Cross Country Canada announced on Wednesday.

Cross Country Canada has again tapped into the Yukon ski scene to boost talent levels on its national teams for next season.

Three Whitehorse skiers have been added to national team rosters, Cross Country Canada announced on Wednesday.

Speedy siblings Emily and Graham Nishikawa were named to the senior development team for the third straight year while Dahria Beatty will be on the junior national team for a fourth consecutive year.

“This is my last year as a junior so it’s really nice to be named to the junior team again,” said Beatty. “It’s always a great honour. You work hard, do the best you can and it’s always nice to be recognized and be part of the national ski team development system.

“I always look at the points I’ve gotten in the races I’ve had throughout the year, so I can tell a little bit if I’ll probably make the team or not,” she added. “But it’s always nice for the announcement to happen. I was told by my coach a week ago, so I’ve known for a week, and that makes it less stressful.”

Both Nishikawas had breakout seasons over the winter.

The Nishikawas competed at the 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in February.

Graham was the first male skier from the Yukon to qualify for the championships and Emily was the first female from the territory to compete since 1997.

Unfortunately both struggled with illness at the worlds. Graham placed 39th out of 95 skiers in the men’s 15-kilometre skate race on Feb. 27. Emily placed 57th in the sprint race on Feb. 21 and 57th in the 10-kilometre free on Feb. 26.

Both also registered their best-ever world cup finishes at the Alberta World Cup in Canmore, Alta., in December.

Graham raced to 15th in the 30-kilometre skiathlon – 15 kilometres of classic followed by 15 kilometres of skating – in senior men. Emily sped to 34th in the 15-kilometre skiathlon in the senior women division. She was the top-Canadian ahead of 11 others and just 15 seconds from cracking the top-30.

Graham placed second in the senior men’s aggregate division at the Haywood Ski Nationals in Whistler, B.C. at the end of March.

Graham took silver in the senior men’s five-kilometre free, just 11.6 seconds behind the winner, and bronze in the 15-kilometre classic on March 26.

Graham, who usually excels most at distance races, claimed silver in the senior men’s sprint and also teamed up with Whitehorse’s Colin Abbott to win bronze in the team sprint on opening day.

Beatty came fourth for junior women and second in Year of Birth at the Haywood Ski Nationals. Beatty won bronze in the junior female 10-kilometre classic and silver in the sprint.

The 19-year-old also won three gold medals at the Western Canadian Championships in February.

Competing with senior women at the Alberta World Cup in December, Beatty produced three results in the mid-50s at the international event.

“The highlight for me was being able to race the world cup (races) in Canmore because it’s that international experience, that next level of competition where I want to be,” said Beatty. “What I’m working towards is ultimately racing on the world cup circuit.

“I improved slightly in every race in the world cup starting with my 57th, leading up to my 54th in the last race. So it was kind of nice to see that.

“It was an amazing atmosphere and an amazing experience.”

The Nishikawas and Beatty were the only Yukoners on national cross-country teams last season as well.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com