Not only will Yukon be represented by a big cross-country ski team at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games, it’ll be an experienced one.
A total of 23 skiers have been named to the squad, Cross Country Yukon announced Monday, many with prior major Games under their belt.
“We have one of the more competitive team for AWG in years,” said head coach Alain Masson in an email to the News.
With 23 skiers on board, Yukon will have eight more than at the 2014 Games in Fairbanks (a year that saw the Games conflict with the Haywood Ski Nationals) and even one more than the 2012 Games that were hosted by Whitehorse.
Six members of the team – Hannah Jirousek, Dagmar Janzen, Regan Fuerstner, Liam Mather, Nichollis Schmidt and Michael Kischuck – competed at the 2014 Arctic Games.
Jirousek won a bronze in the five-kilometre free midget female race and was also on Yukon’s bronze winning 3×3-kilometre freestyle relay midget team with Fuerstner in 2014. Fuerstner also placed fifth in the five-kilometre free midget race and sixth in the 10-kilometre classic.
Other members of this year’s team, which was selected following the Don Sumanik Memorial Races in Whitehorse last month, include Natalie Hynes, Sophia Bond, Hannah Deuling, Mira Mason, Alexis Gee, Kate Mason, Alliya Thomson, Dahlia Lapointe and Sonja Schmidt for females and Jaimie Phillips-Freedman, Jude Slater, Simon Cash, Pelly Vincent-Braun, Derek Deuling, Sasha Masson, Victor Thibeault and Ben Puskas for males.
Cash, Gee, Hynes and Kischuk also raced for Yukon at the 2012 Games in Whitehorse.
Three members of the team – Hynes, Hannah Deuling and Cash – also skied at the 2015 Canada Winter Games just under a year ago in Prince George, B.C.
Hynes and Deuling skied on Yukon’s bronze winning 4×3.75-kilometre relay team at the Games in Prince George.
Not only did Hynes qualify for the Arctics team at the Sumanik races, she won the Sumanik Cup for females, posting the lowest combined times in the two days of racing.
The 17-year-old also won four medals in five races in Haywood NorAms races to start the season and was selected as second alternate for Team Canada at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
“At the beginning of the season you don’t know what to expect until you start racing. It’s been really fun. I’ve had a great time traveling with the team this year,” said Hynes said in a recent interview with the News. “It’s amazing having (coaches like) Alain and Amanda (Deuling) there every week. And my parents of course. And just having teammates helping me out.”
Jan Downing and Amanda Deuling will be the team’s assistant coaches for the Arctic Winter Games that will take place March 6-11 in Nuuk, Greenland.
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