Two Yukoners are continuing a trend going back almost a decade.
For the ninth year in a row, Yukon will have a presence on the Canadian team at the FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Ski Championships, beginning at the end of the month in Utah.
Whitehorse skiers Dahria Beatty and Natalie Hynes have been selected for the team, Cross Country Canada has announced.
“I am really looking forward to this year’s world U23 championships as this is my final year of eligibility. Also the fact that they are in North America is an awesome advantage for us to have,” said Beatty in an email to the News.
“My goal is to make the final in the sprint which is top-six and hopefully have a shot of making the podium. I am also hoping to finish top-12 in both distance races.”
Unlike the rest of the team that secured spots on the team racing the U.S. Cross Country Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah, Jan. 7-10, Beatty prequalified with three top-30 results at FIS World Cup events over the last year.
This junior/U23 worlds will be Beatty’s fifth. The 22-year-old skipped last year’s worlds to ski in a series of World Cup races in Canada. She placed 20th in a sprint at the 2015 U23 worlds in Kazakhstan. Beatty, who is in her seventh season as a member of a national ski team, placed fourth overall, was the top U23 skier and top Canadian, in the women’s sprint at the U.S. nationals on Jan. 8.
“This week in Utah was some extreme race conditions. I finished fourth in the classic sprint against a competitive North American field with less than ideal skis for the conditions,” said Beatty. “I was happy to be able to fight all the way to the final and I learned lots to bring into the U23s at the end of the month.”
Hynes, who is a member of the Yukon Ski Team, will compete at her second junior worlds in two weeks. She made the team last year and took 56th in the 10-kilometre free for her best result at the worlds.
The 18-year-old, who won a gold at the Canadian nationals last March, could compete again next year in junior (under-20) before aging up to U23.
Hynes, who also skis for the University of Alaska Anchorage, opened the U.S. nationals with 17th for females under 20 in the 10-kilometre free on Jan. 7.
She clinched her spot on the team with placing fourth — second for Canadians — in the 7.5-kilometre classic on Jan. 10.
“She got sick after the sprint so we didn’t expect anything from her in the classic, but she was really able to put all her energy together and really came strong,” said Yukon Ski Team head coach Alain Masson.
“She didn’t look good physically. She was white, white. She couldn’t train the day before because she had a bit of cold and wasn’t feeling good. So we were all very surprised she did so well.
“Without that second place (for Canadians) she would not have been able to make it. It was very impressive.”
Whitehorse’s other two national ski team members, Emily Nishikawa and Knute Johnsgaard, also had strong races at the U.S. nationals.
Nishikawa came 11th and was the top Canadian in the women’s 10-kilometre free on Jan. 7; placed 21st out of 256 skiers in the women’s 1.3-kilometre sprint on Jan. 8; and fifth overall and top Canadian in the women’s 20-kilometre race on Jan. 10.
Johnsgaard took 20th in the men’s 15-kilometre free; 16th out of 304 in the sprint; and sixth overall and was the top Canadian in the men’s 30-kilometre.
The rest of the Yukon Ski Team claimed their best finishes on the final day of the U.S. nationals on Jan. 10.
Caelan Mclean placed 11th overall and fifth for Canadians in the junior men’s 10-kilometre classic. Marcus Deuling was 14th overall and sixth for Canadians and Michael Kishchuk 97th overall and 33rd for Canadians.
Hannah Deuling placed 55th overall, 15th for Canadians, in the junior women’s 7.5-kilmetre. Amanda Thomson was 18th, Mira Mason 25th and Hannah Jirousek 30th for Canadians in the race.
The 2017 FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Ski Championships will take place Jan. 30 to Feb. 5, also in Soldier Hollow.
“That’s why (Cross Country) Canada did the trials in Utah, otherwise they would have happened in Canada,” said Masson. “They wanted to get the athletes used to a few of the courses and it’s also fairly high altitude. It’s close to the limit of altitude we’re allowed to race in cross-country skiing. It affects some skiers more than others, so they wanted to select a team of skiers who would do well at that altitude.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org