Whitehorse skiers maintain spots on national team

Canada’s national cross-country ski team will continue to have substantial sourdough flavour next season.

Canada’s national cross-country ski team will continue to have substantial sourdough flavour next season.

Whitehorse skiers Emily Nishikawa, Dahria Beatty and Knute Johnsgaard have been named to the 2016-17 National Ski Team, Cross Country Canada announced last week.

“It is really exciting to be named to the national team again along with Dahria and Knute. It is always such an honour to a part of the National Ski Team,” said Nishikawa in an email to the News. “We have an exciting year ahead, with the world championships in Lahti, Finland as the highlight. I’m really looking forward to the summer of training ahead in preparation for the next season.”

Nishikawa skied in more FIS World Cup races than any other Canadian female this past season, breaking into the top-40 eight times.

The 26-year-old, who raced for Canada at the Sochi Olympics and has been on the senior national team the last six years, will lead the charge on the FIS World Cup “B Team” next season. Nishikawa collected won three gold and a silver to place first in the open women’s aggregate standings at the 2016 Haywood Ski Nationals in March.

Beatty and Johnsgaard have been renamed to the under-25 team and will race in World Cup events, international development level races and Haywood NorAms in Canada.

Both gave breakout performances in the inaugural Ski Tour Canada – a series of FIS World Cup races held across Canada – this past season.

Johnsgaard opened the tour with his first-ever top-30 finish in a men’s sprint event in Gatineau, Que. on March 1. He qualified in 29th and finished in 30th.

Beatty notched a career best 15th place finish in sprints in Canmore, Alta., on March 8. She missed a spot in the semifinal by the tiny margin of 0.3 seconds.

“It is always an honour to be renamed to the Canadian National Team,” said Beatty in an email to the News. “This season was a really great one for me and I met the criteria (with a World Cup top-30) necessary for renomination, placing 15th in the Canmore World Cup, so I was expecting the nomination.”

“It is great to officially be named back to the team although I was quite certain I would be,” said Johnsgaard in an email. “My main goal for next season will be to qualify for the world championships … As always I’d like to thank everyone back home for the unconditional support given to us Yukoners training in Canmore!”

Next season will be Johnsgaard’s second on the national team. The 23-year-old won a bronze in the senior men’s 10-kilometre at nationals and placed fourth in the open men’s aggregate standings.

Beatty will be skiing for Canada a seventh straight year next season, counting four on the junior squad. The 22-year-old won two gold and a silver and placed second in the aggregate standings behind Nishikawa at nationals.

“Next season I have two main goals. I will be racing on the World Cup circuit to start off the season and my goal is to post some top-30 results in the first period of racing,” said Beatty.

“My other main focus will be the U23 world championships, which are in Utah next year. It is my last year as a U23 so I am putting a lot of emphasis on those races to try to produce the best performances possible there.

“It is always a great feeling to have teammates nominated alongside you and I am really looking forward to another season with Em and Knute!”

Whitehorse will also continue to have a presence on Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team. Nishikawa’s older brother Graham will carry on his work as a guide for visually impaired para star Brian McKeever, a 10-time gold medalist at Paralympic Games.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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