Record five Yukon skiers going to world championships

The Yukon will have a record number of cross-country skiers representing Canada at the World Junior Championships and World U23 Championship in Turkey at the end of February.

The Yukon will have a record number of cross-country skiers representing Canada at the World Junior Championships and World U23 Championship in Turkey at the end of February.

Five skiers, all from Whitehorse, gained positions on the national team by either winning races or placing high across the board at Haywood NorAm qualification races last Thursday and over the weekend at Whistler Olympic Park in B.C.

Named to the team on Tuesday were Emily Nishikawa and David Greer, for the U-23 portion of the championships. The juniors were Dahria Beatty, Janelle Greer and Knute Johnsgaard.

“I’m super excited about it,” said Nishikawa. “It’s in Turkey and I think we’ll have a record amount of Yukoners attending this year, which is pretty special. So I’m really excited to be part of this team.”

Nishikawa, a member of the national team, won two of the Yukon’s 13 medals over the three days of racing. She captured gold in Thursday’s skiathlon pursuit – 7.5 kilometre of classic technique followed by 7.5 of skate – thereby securing a spot on the team right off the bat.

She then won gold in Sunday’s 10-kilometre classic, not only winning for the U-23 division, but crossing the finish line first overall against open women skiers.

Next month will be the 22-year-old’s third time competing at the U-23 world championships, placing 16th in the 10-kilometre free technique last year in Estonia.

“It was a great weekend. I’m racing pretty well in distance right now, so I’m really happy about that,” said Nishikawa. “I’m looking forward to building off this success.”

Teammate Beatty, a member of Canada’s junior team, won golds the same days as Nishikawa, but in the junior women division.

In addition to winning gold on Sunday, she was sixth overall against U-23 and open class skiers. “I had never placed in top-10 in open women before,” said Beatty. “That was exciting for me to be a bit closer to the open women and under-23s.”

Beatty, who also finished fourth in Saturday’s sprint event, really enjoyed the excitement of the opening pursuit race on Thursday.

“The first race, I hadn’t yet secured a spot on the team, so that one, excitement-wise, meant a bit more because it was also a mass-start. So I knew, when I crossed the finish line, that I had won,” said Beatty. “It was exciting to have that spot on the junior team secured on the first day of competition. It took a lot of stress off the next few days.”


Competing as the youngest skier in the junior women field at 15, Beatty took a 25th-place finish in a race at the 2010 junior world championships in Germany. Turkey will be her second trip to the championships.

“It’s always a great experience to race internationally” said Beatty. “There are a lot of other Yukoners on the team this year and (Yukon head coach) Alain (Masson) is coming, as well, as a wax-technician so I’ll have a coach there, which is really great. So I’m just excited to race internationally again.”

Junior national teammate Janelle Greer also took in a pair of medals, winning bronze in the pursuit and a gold in the sprint.

Her previous two trips to the junior worlds, in 2009 and 2011, were earned with strong performances in various races. This time she’s focused on the sprint.

“This is my last year as a junior so it’s my last opportunity to go (at the junior level) and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Greer. “The last two times I went I was chosen as an overall (skier), like an average for the two distance races. So this is the first time going as the sprinter. I think it’ll be fun.

“Going into the weekend I thought that my best shot at winning would be in the sprint, just because I’ve been doing well in the sprints lately and I find them easier to push hard in.”

At the junior worlds last February in Estonia, Greer was the top Canadian in two junior women’s events, coming 21st in the 1.2-kilometre sprint, 34th in the five-kilometre free and also grabbed 36th in the 10-kilometre pursuit.

Greer’s brother David, conversely, had his best results in the distance events. He skied to second in the opening pursuit and then secured his spot on the team by winning gold in the 30-kilometre classic on Sunday.

His second time going, but first for U-23, he represented Canada at the 2009 junior worlds in France. There he produced two top-25 performances and helped propel Canada’s relay team to ninth.

Johnsgaard was the only Yukoner in Whistler to earn his spot on the Canadian team, not by winning gold, but by giving a well-rounded performance over the three days of racing.

The 17-year-old, who also competes out of the Pierre Harvey Training Centre in Quebec, was selected through winning three silver medals.

“I was pretty satisfied with every race,” said Johnsgaard. “I knew going into the races that I had a good chance qualifying.”

Johnsgaard’s silver from Saturday’s sprints was so close judges had to go to photo evidence to determine the winner.

“The qualifier didn’t go very well for me because the conditions were really crazy with lots of heavy snow,” said Johnsgaard. “I felt a little better in my quarter-final and semifinal, but when the final came I was completely spent. I guess everybody else was completely spent too and I managed to just hold on to second place.”

On Sunday he “completely surprised myself, considering how exhausted I was after Saturday,” he added.

Johnsgaard, who seems to be having a breakout season with strong finishes in NorAm events in December, will be competing at his first junior world championships.

“It’s pretty exciting to have such a big group of Yukon athletes going,” said Johnsgaard. “I’m really excited because I’ve been doing so well nationally. It will be interesting to see if I can place over in Europe against the best in the world. I’d like to try for a top-20 … but I’ll try my hardest in every race and see how it goes.”

Yukon’s two other medals came from Graham Nishikawa in the open men’s division, making him ineligible for the junior/U-23 world championships.

Recently returning from the World Cup circuit in Europe, Graham took bronze in Thursday’s pursuit – 15 kilometres of classic and 15 kilometres of skate – and then snagged silver in the sprint, coming in just 1.4 seconds behind the gold medalist.

Contact Tom Patrick at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read