Yukon was represented by just two cross-country skiers at the Western Canadian Championships over the weekend.
They are easy to find in the results. Just look towards the top.
Whitehorse’s Dahria Beatty and Caelan McLean both made the podium at the Haywood NorAm event in Prince George, B.C.
For Beatty, a member of the national team, the westerns was an opportunity to prepare for the Ski Tour Canada, a series of World Cup races beginning next week.
“I was really happy with the 7.5-kilometre free on the first day,” said Beatty. “My goal for that race was to start really fast and I managed to do that really well. I actually had a bigger lead after the first lap than I ended up with at the end of the entire race.
“I wanted to practice going out at the pace that I would need in a World Cup ... I was only able to maintain that pace for four kilometres, but it was still enough for the win at westerns.”
Beatty opened the westerns with gold in the open women’s 7.5-kilometre free last Friday. She finished in 19:02.7, just 10.9 seconds ahead of national teammate Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt.
The 21-year-old then picked up a second gold in the open women 1.4-kilometre sprint on Saturday. Beatty, who qualified with the second fastest time, again beat out teammate Bouffard-Nesbitt for first.
Beatty decided to sit out Sunday’s distance free to rest up for the Ski Tour Canada, billed as the biggest cross-country event ever to be held in North America.
“I decided not to race on Sunday. I planned that going into the weekend just to give myself an extra day back in Canmore to get ready for the Ski Tour Canada,” said Beatty.
After two fourth-place finishes in Prince George, McLean picked up a medal in Sunday’s distance race.
The 18-year-old placed 20th overall and second for junior men for the silver in the open men’s 20-kilometre classic. McLean finished in 55:54.2, about a minute behind junior men’s winner Gareth Williams, who won gold for the division in all three races.
McLean placed fourth for junior men and 19th overall in the open men’s 10-kilometre free interval start last Friday.
He then took fourth for junior men in Saturday’s sprints, missing the bronze by a hair.
“He was in a lunge for third place,” said Beatty. “He said to me afterwards, ‘I have to work on those lunges.’
“He did really well. It was nice to have another Yukoner there.”
The inaugural Ski Tour Canada is a 12-day series of FIS World Cup races beginning Tuesday in Gatineau, Que. before heading to Montreal and Quebec City. It will wrap up with four races in Canmore, Alta. “Right where I train all the time, so I’ll have that home-trail advantage,” said Beatty.
Beatty will be one of three Whitehorse skiers in the tour. She will be joined by national teammates Emily Nishikawa and Knute Johnsgaard.
Following the tour all three will return home as Whitehorse hosts the Haywood Ski Nationals, March 19-26.
“With the two wins in Prince George at westerns I regained the NorAm leader position that I had earlier in the year before I went Europe,” said Beatty. “So going into nationals I’ll be in the leader bib at home.”
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