No medals from Haywood sprint races

The Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club's medal count remained at five after sprint races at the 2011 Haywood Ski Nationals in Canmore, Alberta, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club’s medal count remained at five after sprint races at the 2011 Haywood Ski Nationals in Canmore, Alberta, on Wednesday and Thursday.

However, the team did collect four top-10 results, three A-final appearances and almost every member finished in the top half of the field.

As was the case after the first three events at the weeklong Canadian championships, the strongest results came from the Whitehorse women.

Each with two medals already under their belts, junior women’s Dahria Beatty and open women’s Emily Nishikawa both reached the A final on Wednesday, each taking sixth.

“In the final I had a little bit less energy than I did in the quarters and semis,” said Beatty. “I was hoping to do a bit better, but I was still happy to be in the A final, so it was a pretty good day. I had good skis.”

The following day, allocated for the younger divisions, Whitehorse junior girls athlete Kendra Murray was her team’s only skier to advance to an A final, eventually finishing fourth.

“It was a good race – I’ve never really done this well in sprint races before,” said Murray. “I did qualifying, quarters and semis, so I was a little bit tired. I got out fast and I just couldn’t hang in there for the finish.”

Still recovering from an illness, like many of the Whitehorse males, Knute Johnsgaard had his best performance of the championships on Wednesday, reaching the B final – the only Whitehorse male to advance past the quarterfinal – ending in ninth.

“Knute has been quite sick. When he was in Europe in February, he caught a nasty virus and traveled sick to Canada Games, and he hasn’t been able to shake it off and get healthy,” said Whitehorse head coach Alain Masson.

“Because today was shorter races, he did much better than he has the last few days.”

The Whitehorse club also took in some top-20 results from the sprints.

Janelle Greer, who, like Johnsgaard and Beatty, is on the national junior team, finished 16th in the junior women category. Brother David Greer, racing in the open men’s category, came 17th. In the junior men category Jeff Wood came 17th and Logan Potter 19th.

Like three of his teammates, Potter has a second set of results to look at. As a current post-secondary student, he is incorporated in the Canadian College and University Nordic Championship (CCUNC) results, taking second. Fellow Carleton University student and Whitehorse skier, Lee Hawkings, finished 24th for junior men and fourth in the CCUNC standings.

In open men, Colin Abbott took fourth in CCUNC while teammate Nansen Murray finished eighth.

Whitehorse’s medals all came in the opening two days of competition over the weekend.

Competing in the team sprints, Nishikawa and Janelle Greer won gold in the open women category and Beatty and Kendra Murray grabbed gold in junior women.

The following day, Nishikawa, Murray and Beatty medaled again.

Though taking second behind an American, Nishikawa won a second gold in the 10-kilometre skate on Sunday as the top Canadian finisher. The two medals from the weekend brings Nishikawa’s career total at the Haywoods to 10.

“I was just thrilled. It was one of my goals to become a national champion and I did that,” said Nishikawa. “Even though I finished second in the race, I still skied fairly well, so I was really happy with my race.”

Along with Nishikawa’s gold, Beatty won silver in the junior women division’s 10-kilometre skate while Murray won a bronze, her first individual medal at the national level, in junior girls.

“It was a really tough course and I pushed really hard on the second lap,” said Beatty. “By the end I had nothing left, but it paid off and I was really happy with my results.

“It was a hilly course; it was all up and then all down. It was a hard course.”

The Whitehorse squad will wrap-up the competition with the longest races yet on Saturday. The open men will be racing a 50-kilometre skate, the open women and junior men 30-, and the junior women 20-kilometres.

“I’ve never done a 20-kilometre skate before, so it will be a first,” said Beatty. “It’s the longest race I will have done. I’m feeling good so hopefully it will go well. It will be a new experience.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com