Whitehorse skier wins medals at World Cup

Whitehorse's Lois Johnston has given Canada two medals with two more races to go at the Masters World Cup in Asiago, Italy.

Whitehorse’s Lois Johnston has given Canada two medals with two more races to go at the Masters World Cup in Asiago, Italy.

Johnston, who is competing in the W7 division (females age 60-65), has won a gold and a bronze in just two races so far this week.

She captured gold in the 10-kilometre classic on Monday.

“When I was double-poling to the finish and they announced that the world champion for W7 was approaching the line, it was such a feeling,” said Johnston in an email to the News. “It was a pretty tight race. For the first four kilometres I was right behind the American and the Russian skiers… So on the uphill I decided to take off and I never saw them again.

“I have to say that I liked that feeling of being out in front and there was no way that I was going to let anyone pass! I focused on technique… double-poling and kick double-poling, and good strong climbing.”

Johnston finished in 35:20.2, four seconds up from Russia’s Vera Koroleva and 11 seconds up from U.S.‘s Ginny Price.

She opened the World Cup winning bronze in the 15-kilometre skate on Saturday. Johnston finished with a time of 48:39.0, 16.34 seconds behind first place.

“I had a great race, hard up-hills but great down-hills,” wrote Johnston on Saturday. “I skied the 15 in a personal best and good for the bronze… am off to the medal ceremony tonight. Can’t quite believe it. Very tough competition! I was behind a Fin and in front of a Russian.”

Johnston, who is a coach with Cross-Country Yukon, won four medals at the Canadian Masters National Cross-Country Ski Championships in Golden, B.C., a year ago.

After a two-decade absence, Johnston returned to competitive skiing in 2011 at the Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup 2011 in B.C. At the worlds, she placed fourth in the 30-kilometre and seventh in the 10-kilometre free.

Johnston will be competing in a relay on Wednesday followed by a 30-kilometre classic on Friday.

“The medal ceremonies are amazing… on stage in a big arena, all decorated in authentic European fashion with traditionally dressed ladies, and pine trees and flowers all around… And an Italian guy kissed me three times after he put the medal around my neck,” said Johnston. “Truly this is amazing. The people are so gracious… The hotel people treat us like a family and are just waiting for results and cheering us and having champagne passed around for us.”

Whitehorse siblings Graham and Emily Nishikawa are also in Italy to represent Canada at the FIS World Nordic Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme for the next two weeks.

Graham, 29, is the first male skier from the Yukon to compete at a senior world championship. Emily, 23, is the first female Yukoner to make the worlds since Olympian Lucy Steele-Masson competed in 1997.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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