Yukon’s Emily Nishikawa ended a tough three-day competition in Canmore, Alberta, this weekend by winning gold in the junior women’s five-kilometre classic ski race.
The event was part of the elite Haywood Noram race series, which attracts the best skiers in the country for intense head-to-head competition.
Nishikawa was out of the starting gate like a rocket, and never slowed down on the Canmore courses, widely acknowledged to be some of the toughest in North America.
Skiers started the individual start competition at 15-second intervals, so Nishikawa wasn’t sure how she had placed until the final competitor crossed the line, but she knew she’d done well.
“I felt strong today, really good all the way,” she commented as she waited for the final results to be announced.
The medal was Nishikawa’s second of the competition.
She picked up a bronze in the first race of the meet, a 10-kilometre continuous pursuit race, in which competitors ski one loop using classic technique, then switch skis and poles and finish off with a skating loop.
In other action, Graham Nishikawa turned in a strong performance in the extremely competitive (and extremely exciting) open men’s sprint race on Saturday.
Racing head to head in heats of six skiers, Graham advanced to the men’s A-final with a series of consistent top-two performances over the 1.1-kilometre course.
In a final that thrilled spectators, the men were six wide funneling into the four finish lanes. It took two photo-finish calls for the jury to sort them out.
There was less than two metres separating Alex Harvey (the clear winner) from the sixth-place athlete — a disappointed Nishikawa.
Graham also turned in strong performances in the continuous pursuit race, finishing fourth behind Ivan Babikov, and eighth in the classic event on Sunday, also won by Babikov.
Fellow Yukoner and National Junior Team member David Greer picked up some good early season results as well, taking seventh place in the junior men’s category in continuous pursuit and a 12th place in the classic race. Greer is in his first year on the National Team.
Members of the Whitehorse Glacier Bears Swim Club left their mark at two swim meets last weekend, combining efforts to break two Canadian, two BC and 18 club records.
Alexandra Gabor and Bronwyn Pasloski raced as part of Team BC in the Paul Bergen Junior International Championships in Beaverton, Oregon.
This meet represents one of the absolute fastest junior-age meets in North America, as teams from a number of European countries, Canadian Provinces, and the US National Training Centre competed.
Gabor lowered her own BC record in the 100-metre free set in November and broke the Canadian record set by Shauna Collins in 1988 in a time of 0:55.97, finishing with a silver medal.
Next, Gabor broke a 31-year old BC record and the Canadian record set by Jane Kerr in 1983 in the 200-metre freestyle, in a time of 2:00.36.
As well, she missed setting a new BC record in the 50-metre free by a mere one-100th of a second.
Gabor capped the weekend with a silver and bronze in relays and a sixth-place in the 800-metre free, finishing the meet with seven new club records.
Pasloski continued her winning ways with bronze medals in the 100- and 200-metre breaststroke, and a fifth-place finish in the 200-metre individual medley and a silver and bronze in relays.
She finished 13th in the 400-metre individual medley, for a total of eight personal best times, and six club records.
At the same time, nine Glacier Bears swimmers travelled to Victoria for the sixth annual Christmas Cracker Invitational meet, which featured over 500 swimmers from Alberta, BC and Whitehorse.
Hayley Bielz led the Yukoners by swimming both the grueling 1500-metre and the 800-metre free, finishing with a Western National time in the 1500 and a AAA time in the 800. She swam personal best times in every event.
Brice Harding achieved an Age Group National time in the 50-metre free. He made the finals in five events, and achieved personal best times in every event he entered.
A highlight was his effort as anchor in the 4X50 free relay, when he powered past four swimmers to take second place in the heat. Harding set four new club records at this meet.
Sled dog racing
The second installment of this year’s Yukon Brewing Copper Haul Twister race series, The H. Coyne and Sons Race Day, runs Saturday at Icy Waters Ltd. on Fish Lake Road. Registration at 9 a.m.
Three events are scheduled for that race day, a five-kilometre kids race, a five-kilometre one-pet dog race, and the 19-kilometre Twister, with sled teams up to five dogs or three-dog skijoring teams.
Young mushers take note, this event will also serve as the Arctic Winter Games sled dog racing team selection trials.