Five medals, and an aggregate win were taken by the Yukon Ski Team at the first NorAm races of the season over the weekend at the Sovereign Lakes Nordic Club in Vernon, BC.
For the Yukon’s big winners – Graham Nishikawa in the open men’s and Katie Peters in the junior girls’- success was a bit unexpected.
Nishikawa, who usually excels at long-distance events, began the weekend winning bronze in a classic sprint event. He followed up with a silver in a 15-kilometre skate on Sunday.
“I’m definitely very happy with how the weekend went,” said Nishikawa, 27, who hopes to make it back on the national senior team this season. “Especially in the sprint, it’s not my strongest race. I was happy to be that close this early.
“I’m generally satisfied that the summer training went well and I got on the podium twice.”
Skiing in her first junior female events, Peters took in the age-group’s aggregate award for taking fifth in Saturday’s classic sprint and second in Sunday’s five-kilometre skate.
“I wasn’t expecting to do that well,” said Peters, 16. “I thought the skate race went really well because I’m not usually as strong in skating and I was pretty surprised by the results.
“Usually I prefer the classic long-distance, so neither of the races were my favourite. I was surprised with both of them.”
Also taking in hardware were Yukon junior females Janelle Greer and Dahria Beatty, both of whom ski on the national junior team, taking first and second respectively in the classic sprint while teammate Kendra Murray came 13th.
There were some near misses in the junior male category with Jeff Wood coming fourth and Knute Johnsgaard, a long distance skier, taking fifth in the sprint.
“Knute is an excellent distance skier, but in the past he hasn’t done as well in sprinting,” said Team Yukon head coach Alain Masson. “He has really improved in sprinting, so that’s really good.”
Joining Nishikawa in the open men’s was David Greer, taking fifth Saturday and 22nd Sunday, and Colin Abbott in 30th and 57th.
“David making the final in the sprint, I think that was his best ever sprint,” said Masson.
Beatty almost made it six medals for the Yukon, taking fourth in Sunday’s 10-kilometre skate while Janelle Greer came 11th and Murray took 17th.
Sunday also saw Wood taking 10th in the 15-kilometre skate in the junior male division while Johnsgaard, another national junior team skier, grabbed 18th. Yukon’s Emily Nishikawa, who did not compete Saturday, finished 16th in the open female 10-kilometre skate. Junior girls’ skier Holly Bull finished 12th both days.
“It was a great weekend and it was great to start the season – it was the first NorAm of the season – and it’s always good to start it with good results,” said Masson. “I think the most impressive thing was Katie on Sunday. She is more a classic specialist, so that was great to see her do so well.”
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