Cross Country Canada has once again turned to the Yukon to help fill the ranks of the organization’s national teams.
Three Whitehorse cross-country skiers were named to national teams this week. Speedy siblings Emily and Graham Nishikawa are both on the senior development team for the second-straight year, while Dahria Beatty is on the junior national team for a third-straight year.
“It’s always an honour to get named to the team, so I’m super happy about that,” said Emily. “I’m looking forward to this coming season.”
Membership carries certain privileges. National team members get excellent training opportunities and guaranteed entry into major races.
“It provides us with more opportunities,” said Emily. “For example, I’ll be attending more camps with the national team this summer. I’m going up to Alaska with the national women’s team next week … and we’ll meet up with the best women from the States, as well, for a joint camp. In September we’ll head down the Park City, Utah, for another camp.
“This year there will be some world cups held in Canada, actually, and I’ll definitely have starts in those world cups. After that (I’ll) head over to Europe for more world cups.”
This past season, Emily placed third in senior women and was first for her Year of Birth category in the U-23 women at the Haywood Ski Nationals in March, winning a gold and silver medal.
The 22-year-old won a gold, silver and bronze as a part of Team Yukon at the Canada Winter Games last year in Halifax.
At the World Junior and U23 Championships in Turkey, Emily finished 17th in the U23 Ladies 10-kilometre individual classic. It was Canada’s highest placement by a female competitor in Turkey, junior or U23.
Emily also placed second overall in senior women at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships, pocketing a gold and silver.
At the Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships, Emily won two golds and a silver in the open women division.
Beatty was winning hardware at many of the same competitions.
The 18-year-old placed third in junior women at the Haywood Nationals with a gold medal in the five-kilometre classic. She also placed fifth in the sprint and sixth in the 20-kilometre classic.
At the world championships in Turkey, Beatty took in two top-25 performances in the junior female division. Competing in her second junior worlds, Beatty raced to 25th in five-kilometre individual classic for Team Canada’s top spot in the race. She then placed 23rd in the skiathlon.
Beatty also captured three gold medals in junior women at the western Canadian championships.
Graham was welcomed back on the national team last year after a five-year hiatus. The 28-year-old had an outstanding 2010-11 season with seven victories and 17 podium finishes on the Haywood NorAm circuit. He also placed 27th in a world cup event in Sweden, going head-to-head with the best skiers in the world.
At the 2012 Haywoods, Graham won a silver with Yukon’s David Greer in the open men’s team sprint. He then placed sixth in the senior men’s 10-kilometre classic, eighth in the sprint and fourth in the 50-kilometre classic on the final day.
Graham also won a gold and silver at the western Canadian championships.
Last month, Cross Country Canada announced its National Talent Squad athletes. Included was Whitehorse’s Fabian Brook, one of the 11 male skiers selected. Brook won a gold and a bronze at the Arctic Winter Games earlier this year in Whitehorse. Racing in junior boys, Brook snagged his first national medal at the Haywoods. It made him a national champion, winning gold in the 10-kilometre classic.
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