There was another Sumanik race, but it bore few similarities to the previous event, beyond the location and some division winners.
Unlike the previous weekend’s skate event, Saturday’s Don Sumanik Memorial Classic Technique Race at the Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club had mass starts and a bitter minus 19 Celsius temperature, which is just shy of the cutoff.
Two skiers were not fazed by the changes.
Winning their divisions both weeks, Knute Johnsgaard and Dahria Beatty were awarded the Don Sumanik Memorial Trophies.
“It was pretty cold, so I think we took it pretty easy,” said Johnsgaard, who got to celebrate his 17th birthday and his win on Saturday. “But then we pushed ourselves at the end and it felt good.
“It was a good time.”
Both weeks Johnsgaard competed in the junior male, on Saturday finishing the 10-kilometre course in 27 minutes, 58.4 seconds, almost three minutes faster than open male winner Nansen Murray. Fellow Team Yukon skier Jeff Wood finished second in the junior male category both weeks.
“He was probably still recovering; he was sick the week before,” said Johnsgaard.
Making her performance all the more impressive, on Saturday Beatty, 15, decided to move from the younger 3.75-kilometre juvenile group up to the 7.5-kilometre junior female, out-pacing second place Kendra Murray by 12.2 seconds with a time of 23:02.5.
“I’m in a year that I can race in either division,” said Beatty. “The distance was longer for the older division and I wanted to race the longer distance. It’s better training to race those longer distances.
“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.”
Unfortunately for the team going to the Arctic Winter Games, Johnsgaard and Beatty are not vying for spots, preferring to save themselves for the 2010 Haywood Ski Nationals the week following the Games in March.
“They are so close together that they almost overlap, and it would just be too much,” said Johnsgaard. “I just want to focus on the nationals.”
The Yukon’s Arctic Winter Games team for cross-country skiing will be announced in the middle of the week.
Finishing second in the open male was David Gonda, up from fifth last week, beating out third place finisher Jonathan Kerr.
Coming in behind Kendra Murray in the junior female division was Canada Junior Cross Country Team skier Janelle Greer, who won the division the previous week.
“Janelle Greer, who you might have expected to win, is actually suffering from a cold,” said Claude Chabot, the race’s technical delegate. “She’s heading off to do some NorAm races in BC next weekend, so she wanted to take it easy.”
For the juvenile males, Fabian Brook took the top spot, up from second the previous Saturday, beating out last week’s winner Izak Baril-Blouin. Trevor Bray took third, as he did the previous race.
Nesha Wright moved up from fourth in the skate event to first in the juvenile division, while Katie Peters came in second and Holly Bull third, as they did on November 28.
Once again, Sara Nielsen, the lone skier in the open female category, finished the 7.5-kilometre course in 25:42.
In the midget categories, Cambria Fuerstner won her second straight race, as did Marcus Dueling in the male division.
Behind Fuerstner was Kassi Wright in second and Eliza Paul in third. Trailing Dueling were Mac Prawdzik and Andrew Seal.
Because the temperature exceeded the minus 15 Celsius cutoff for the younger groups, no atom or peewee races took place.
“They did some research and found that really young kids are susceptible to lung damage in the cold, so instead of having a minus 20 cutoff for everybody, for the under-12s they’ve trimmed it down to minus 15,” said Chabot. “There’s a lot of skiers now that suffer from asthma, and this is one of the things they’re attributing it to.”
A group of Yukon skiers will be travelling to Vernon, BC, to compete in a NorAm event this weekend. Making the trip are Wood, Kendra Murray, Greer, Johnsgaard and Beatty. They will be joined there by Yukoners David Greer, Colin Abbott, Emily Nishikawa and Graham Nishikawa, the territory’s best hope for a Yukoner to compete in the Vancouver Olympics.
“This first time out is going to be a learning experience because I’m racing in the junior category again and it has a five-year age span,” said Beatty, who will be one of the youngest competitors in her division.
“There’ll be lots of fast skiers to compete against.”
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