Dahria Beatty wasn’t just Canada’s best U23 female skier at the FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Ski Championships, she was North America’s as well.
The Whitehorse skier placed top 20 in all three of her races last week in Soldier Hollow, Utah, finishing as the top Canadian and North American.
The 22-year-old opened her fifth and final junior/U23 worlds with 12th-place finish in the sprint on Jan. 31.
“I was especially happy to qualify top 10 in the sprint, qualifying in eighth, and I skied my first international semifinal,” said Beatty. “Unfortunately I just didn’t have the legs to get through to the final in the top six, but I was happy with my 12th place.”
Her 12th-place result marks the highest finish for Beatty, surpassing a 15th-place finish as a junior in 2014 and a 20th in U23 in 2015.
Beatty, who is in her seventh season as a member of a national ski team, then placed 16th in the 10-kilometre free technique race on Feb. 2. She finished in 27:39.8, just 1:25.8 behind the gold medalist from Sweden.
“Even though I finished 16th, I was sitting in top 10 for about three quarters of the race and unfortunately in the last two and a half K blew up a little bit,” said Beatty. “Racing at altitude, it’s really hard to maintain that high effort for an entire race and I think I went a little over that line and wasn’t able to maintain it anymore.”
Beatty capped her final U23 worlds by finishing 19th in the women’s 15-kilometre skiathlon (half in classic followed by half in free technique) on Feb. 4. She crossed the line in 43:09.0, 2:14.5 behind the winner from Norway.
“I struggled with some back pain in the classic part of the race, which was quite frustrating because the first lap I was skiing well with the front pack,” said Beatty. “I dropped back a bit but was able to rally a bit when I switched to the skate technique where it wasn’t bothering me as much.”
Beatty prequalified for the U23 worlds with three top-30 results at FIS World Cup events over the last year. She will compete at her first senior world championships later this month in Finland.
“I was really hoping to finish on a strong note and be battling right to the end, but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” said Beatty. “At the same time, it’s just one other race in a season of tons of races.”
Beatty wasn’t the only Yukoner racing in Soldier Hollow, at an altitude of over 1,700 metres. Whitehorse’s Natalie Hynes competed in the junior women division for her second worlds.
“You can definitely feel it,” said Hynes of the high elevation. “You have to take a couple days before you start racing to get out on the trails and really ski slow, let your breathing adjust to the air with less oxygen.”
Hynes, who is a member of the Yukon Ski Team and also skis for the University of Alaska Anchorage, placed 28th in the junior women’s 10-kilometre skiathlon on Feb. 3. She was the top Canadian with a time of 30:28.6.
“I definitely was not expecting it,” said Hynes. “Last year in Romania I was really racing for the experience and it was amazing to be on the international scene. This year I raced my hardest and I knew I could probably improve from last year, but that was a big improvement and I wasn’t expecting it. So it was really exciting when I finished and my coach said I cracked the top 30.”
Hynes didn’t qualify for the heats in the junior women’s sprint, finishing 42nd, but did finish as the second Canadian.
At 19, she will be eligible to race in junior next season.
“It was an amazing experience and I feel so lucky to have gotten to come for a second time and represent Canada,” said Hynes.
“Coming for a second time allowed me to focus more on the racing and not so much figuring out the international scene. I could focus a little bit more on racing for myself, which was pretty exciting.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com