Dahria Beatty, right, during the Haywood NorAm Tech Sprints in 2010. Beatty finished first in the open women category at the 2018 Haywood NorAm and Olympic and World Junior U23 Selections which took place between Jan. 5-10. (Cory Bialecki/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse skiers have strong showing at Olympic selections

Some of the Yukon’s best and brightest cross-country skiers descended on Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que., for the 2018 Haywood NorAm and Olympic and World Junior U23 Selections from Jan. 5 to 10.

Originally slated to run Jan. 6-9, the event started a day early and ended a day late due to extreme cold in the forecast over the weekend, meaning no races took place on Saturday or Sunday.

Day one featured the 1.35-km classic sprint and four Whitehorse skiers put in strong showings.

Dahria Beatty finished first in the open women category with a time of 3:41.55, ahead of Maya Macisaac-Jones and Katherine Stewart-Jones.

Julien Locke won the open men’s sprint, finishing the race in 3:05.87, and Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard and Graham Nishikawa finished 12th and 38th respectively.

When the competition resumed for day two, the skiathlon took centre stage.

In the junior A female 10-km skiathlon, junior national team skier Natalie Hynes took first place with a time of 30:19.8. Hannah Deuling finished in 12th place with a time of 32:01.8 and Amanda Thomson finished 14th with a time of 32:07.8.

On Jan. 11, Cross Country Canada named Hynes to the list of athletes nominated for selection to the Junior World Championships in Goms, Switzerland.

The open female 15-km skiathlon saw another strong performance from Beatty, who skied to third place behind winner Cendrine Browne and second place Anne-Marie Comeau.

Whitehorse skiers set the bar in the open men 30-km skiathlon. Johnsgaard won the race in a time of 1:13:30.9 and Nishikawa finished in second place, just a second off of Johnsgaard’s time.

The 1.35-km free sprint was the focus on day three. Six Yukoners were in the field.

In the junior A female category, Annika Richardson was the fastest skier with a time of 3:48.16. Thomson was 16th and Deuling was 41st. Hynes was registered for the event but did not race.

Beatty won the open women category ahead of Browne and Zina Kocher.

Jesse Cockney was the fastest open male skier and Knute Johnsgaard finished just off the podium in fifth.

The event wrapped up with distance selection races on day four.

Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier won the open men 15-km classic race with a time of 39:07.8. Nishikawa finished the race in third, 30 seconds behind the winner. Johnsgaard did not take part in the race.

There were familiar names on the open women 10-km classic podium as Browne finished first with Stewart-Jones and Comeau rounding out the top three. Beatty finished 1:26.6 behind the leader in fifth.

Hynes grabbed another podium finish in the junior A female five-km classic, finishing in second just 2.7 seconds behind Hannah Mehain. Rounding out the Yukon results from the event, Deuling finished in 21st and Thomson not far behind in 24th.

Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa was also in action over the weekend in Piteaa, Sweden for the Scandinavian Cup from Jan. 5 to 7, earning a pair of top ten finishes.

Nishikawa’s first top 10 of the weekend came in the ladies’ 10-km free race when she finished with a time of 27:07.6, good for ninth place. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla finished first in a time of 25:36.4, 1:31.2 minutes ahead of Nishikawa.

In the ladies’ 20-km class mass start race, Nishikawa finished in eighth place with a time of 57:49.0, 1:42.2 behind winner Johanna Matintalo of Finland.

In the ladies’ sprint one-km classic, Nishikawa finished qualification in 21st place with a time of 4:07.08, 14.52 seconds behind winner Anna Svendsen of Norway.

In the sprint final, Nishikawa finished in 19th place and Lotta Udnes Weng of Norway took first place.

An official announcement of the Olympic roster is expected after the Olympic FIS points list is published on Jan. 22.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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