Derek Deuling, seen here at last season’s Don Sumanik Memorial Race, had a pair of top-five finishes at the Alberta Cup in Canmore, Alberta. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

Team Yukon starts cross-country season with Alberta Cup races

β€œIt was great to test their fitness compared to other skiers in the rest of western Canada.”

Team Yukon sent a team of skiers to the Alberta Cup at the Canmore Nordic Ski Club on Nov. 24 and 25, finishing with a number of impressive finishes.

Head coach Alain Masson said it was a good first race weekend for the team.

“It was a great start to the season,” said Masson. “A large field of athletes — more than 500 athletes in all categories — so it was a really competitive field … It was great to test their fitness compared to other skiers in the rest of western Canada.”

Racers competed on shorter loops than are typically seen, but Masson said the Yukon skiers were prepared.

“We were limited to a two-kilometre loop on Saturday and a 2.5-km loop on Sunday, which is quite short by the usual (standards). Usually we’re on a five-km loop or a 3.75-km loop,” said Masson. “That’s what we’ve been doing here for practice in terms of rehearsing races. We were doing time trial races on our short 1.5-km loop, so our athletes are used to it by now.”

Masson said all of the skiers had results to be proud of, but mentioned Derek Deuling specifically had strong results over the weekend. Deuling was fifth in his category in the free race and fourth in his category in the classic race.

“(Deuling) had two great races. He’s made a huge improvement from last season,” said Masson. “I think a lot of the skiers — actually, most of our skiers — did improve from last year … Everybody had at least one good race, which was nice to see.”

There were two races over the weekend — an interval start free race on Nov. 24 and an interval start classic race on Nov. 25.

In the senior men free race, Graham Nishikawa was first overall with a time of 20 minutes. Caelan Pangman McLean finished 19th overall with a time of 21 minutes and 53.7 seconds. His time was also good for third in the men’s university category.

In the junior men free race, Samuel Hendry was the winner with a time of 20 minutes and 16.5 seconds.

Deuling was the fastest Yukoner, finishing fifth with a time of 21 minutes and 22.3 seconds. Other Yukon finishes included Sasha Masson in 13th, Victor-Emile Thibeault in 23rd, Roméo Champagne in 31st, Jamie Phillips-Freedman in 32nd and Nichollis Schmidt in 34th.

Whitehorse’s Dahria Beatty won the senior women free race with a time of 12 minutes and 34.6 seconds.

Four Yukon skiers competed in the junior women free race won by Isobel Hendry with a time of 13 minutes and 28.7 seconds.

Amanda Thomson was 12th with a time of 14 minutes and 29.9 seconds — Thomson’s time placed her fourth women’s university category — Sonjaa Schmidt was 15th, Hannah Jirousek was 20th and Dahlia Lapointe was 23rd.

Marius Harv won the senior men classic race with a time of 27 minutes and 18.4 seconds. Nishikawa was 11th and Pangman McLean was 13th (second for the men’s university category.)

In the junior men classic race, Samuel Hendry was again first with a time of 28 minutes and 10.9 seconds.

Deuling was the top Yukoner in fourth, followed by Sasha Masson in 14th, Thibeault in 21st, Champagne in 23rd, Phillips-Freedman in 24th and Nichollis Schmidt in 26th.

In the senior women free race, Beatty won with a time of 24 minutes and 7.2 seconds.

Jasmine Drolet won the junior women classic race with a time of 26 minutes and 8.4 seconds. Thomson was the fastest Yukoner with a fifth place finish, good for first in the women’s university category.

Sonjaa Schdmit was 15th, Jirousek was 16th and Lapointe was 20th.

The focus now shifts to the Don Sumanik Memorial Races in Whitehorse on Dec. 1 and 2.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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