Whitehorse skiers nab four medals at westerns

It’s always a good thing when a team returns from a championship with more medals than athletes.

It’s always a good thing when a team returns from a championship with more medals than athletes.

The Yukon Ski Team did that at the Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships in Whistler, B.C., Jan. 21-22.

Dahria Beatty, Emily Nishikawa and Caelan Pangman-McLean together won four medals, including two gold.

“With Emily and Dahria it’s easy to get medals,” said Yukon Ski Team head coach Alain Masson. “They are the best two female skies in Canada so they usually if they compete in Canada they’re going to win medals.”

The team collected one of each medal in the interval classic technique races on Jan. 21.

Nishikawa sped to gold in the open women’s 10-kilometre with a time of 30 minutes and 35.5 seconds. Beatty was 16.5 seconds back for the silver.

Pangman-McLean raced to bronze for junior men in the 15-kilometre, placing 16th overall including the open men racers.

“He is having a really good season,” said Masson. “He’s been solid in classic (technique) so far this year.”

Beatty was back on the podium — this time on the top tier — with a gold in the open women’s 1.2-kilometre free sprint on Jan. 22. Nishikawa was edged off the podium with fourth place.

Pangman-McLean took 24th overall and seventh for junior in the men’s 1.2-kilometre sprint event.

Last weekend’s westerns was Beatty’s final event before she joins the rest of Team Canada at the FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Ski Championships next week in Soldier Hollow, Utah. The 22-year-old prequalified with three top-30 results at FIS World Cup events over the last year.

“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 a recent 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.”

Beatty will be joined at the junior/U23 worlds by Whitehorse’ Natalie Hynes, who will compete in the junior division for her second time.

Usually the Yukon Ski Team will send a larger contingent to the western championship.

“If (Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard) had been there, there would have been a couple more medals,” said Masson.

Johnsgaard had bigger fish to fry. The 24-year-old helped Canada win its first ever medal in a men’s FIS World Cup relay race with a bronze on Jan. 22 in Ulricehamn, Sweden.

Johnsgaard is now the first skier from the territory to win hardware in a World Cup race. With the medal Johnsgaard has qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics and the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

“It’s still hard to believe what happened. It’s absolutely crazy,” said Johnsgaard in an email to the News. “Canada has been trying to do this since the beginning of skiing. We are all overwhelmed with joy. Wax techs and coaching staff who were past athletes themselves were crying it was so special. It was a long time coming for Canada and over a decade of work paying off in a single race for me.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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