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Whitehorse skiers prep for World Cup with Slovenia races

You could say Yukon's top skiers are feeling bene about this weekend's FIS World Cup races in Planica, Slovenia.

You could say Yukon’s top skiers are feeling bene about this weekend’s FIS World Cup races in Planica, Slovenia.

Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa, Dahria Beatty and Knute Johnsgaard all said they were happy with their races last week, in emails sent from Tablach, Italy where they are currently training with the rest of the Canadian team.

All three had good races with some very consistent results in the OPA Cup - part of the European Continental Cup series - over the weekend in Planica, where they will return to this weekend for a World Cup.

Nishikawa, 26, placed fourth in a sprint on Friday before winning bronze in the 10-kilometre classic on Saturday and the 10-kilometre free Sunday.

“I was very happy with my races in Planica,” she said. “I was pleased to have very consistent racing throughout the weekend and getting onto the podium twice was a nice reward.

“It was fun to get to race at the same venue the week before to get to know the trails that we will be racing on in the World Cup.”

Beatty, 21, placed 16th in both the 10-kilometre classic and 10-kilometre free. However, she is most pleased with 18th in Friday’s sprint.

“I finished 18th on paper but I was only 0.5 seconds from making the semi-final heats which are the top 10. I made a couple tactical errors in my heat which cost me a bit of time but my body felt good,” said Beatty.

“I had some back and abdominal cramping in both (distance) races which I haven’t experience this year. That was hard to push through and definitely took me off my A game. In yesterday’s skate (free) race I also had two falls which didn’t help my time. There were some good parts to each race like being able to ski behind the OPA series leader for part of yesterday’s race and focusing on how to dig deep when things aren’t going smoothly.”

Johnsgaard, 23, raced to 27th in the sprint, 24th in the 15-kilometre classic on Saturday and 25th in the 15-kilometre free Sunday.

A 16th place result in the sprint qualifier was his highlight, he said.

“I was particularly happy with my sprint qualifier where I was the top Canadian, ahead of Canadian World Cup skier Lenny Valjas who is a multiple world cup medalist,” said Johnsgaard. “That really gave me confidence that I should be able to qualify for the heats in the World Cup next week at the same venue.”

Beatty and Nishikawa had great success the previous weekend at the Austria Cup in Villach, Austria. Nishikawa, who competed at the Sochi Olympics, took the gold in a five-kilometre classic with a time of 15:09.6 while Beatty came in 18.2 seconds behind for silver.

Nishikawa also placed 39th in her last two FIS world Cup races in December.

“It is great to have Dahria and Knute over here and see them having some very good results,” added Nishikawa. “We are all excited for the races to come and looking forward to some more good racing opportunities.”

Contact Tom Patrick at