A force of skiers awakened Saturday.
Over 400 skiers hit the trails for the 30th annual Buckwheat Ski Classic hosted by the Log Cabin Ski Society near Fraser, B.C.
The event, which had a record 431 register, featured a Star Wars theme – Ski Wars: May the Wax be with You.
Fittingly, the event included some Jedi Knights of the Canadian ski scene.
Hot off a four-medal performance at the 2016 Haywood Ski Nationals held in her hometown, Whitehorse Olympian Emily Nishikawa was one of four national team skiers to take part in the event.
Sharing the trails with a Wookie, Kylo Ren and R2D2 made the event seem like a galaxy far, far away from the FIS World Cup circuit she raced all season.
“It was super fun. The Buckwheat is an amazing event and I’m just really happy to get the chance to do it this year,” said Nishikawa, who last raced the Buckwheat in 2010. “It was great to see so many people out skiing. The costumes are amazing and the whole vibe of the race is just a really fun atmosphere. It’s a nice change of pace from World Cup racing – it couldn’t be any more different.”
Nishikawa finished the women’s 50-kilometre classic in two hours, 43 seconds and 11.4 seconds. That’s not quite as fast as doing the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, but it was good enough for first place.
Whitehorse’s Dahria Beatty, who is also on the national team, placed second at 2:51:35.1. Whitehorse’s Kendra Murray, who raced for Canada at the U23 world championships this winter, came third at 2:57:55.5.
“The longest women do on the World Cup is 30 kilometres,” said Nishikawa. “It’s such a beautiful setting and so much fun to be a part of it.”
Whitehorse skiers cut through the competition like a light saber, winning eight of the event’s 11 divisions.
The men’s 50-kilometre was one that got away. National team and World Cup racer Graeme Killick of Fort McMurray, Alta. took it with a time of 2:23:15.6.
Whitehorse’s Matthias Purdon and Colin Abbott took second and third, respectively. Former World Cup skier Gerard Garnier of Canmore, Alta., claimed fourth and Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard – another national team skier – placed fifth.
“The volunteers did a great job to pull it off this year,” said Nishikawa. “Mother Nature wasn’t really cooperating with the snow conditions … It wasn’t the best conditions to host a ski race, but they still pulled it off.”
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Top five results:
1st Graeme Killick (Canmore) – 2:23:15.6
2nd Matthias Purdon (Whitehorse) – 2:23:36.1
3rd Colin Abbott (Whitehorse) – 2:23:44.0
4th Gerard Garnier (Canmore) – 2:24:30.4
5th Knute Johnsgaard (Whitehorse) – 2:26:25.8
1st Emily Nishikawa (Whitehorse) – 2:43:11.4
2nd Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse) – 2:51:35.1
3rd Kendra Murray (Whitehorse) – 2:57:55.5
4th Marit Rjabov (Whitehorse) – 3:08:19.3
5th Aisha Montgomery (Whitehorse) – 3:40:28.1
1st Hudson Lucier (Whitehorse) – 1:18:15.5
2nd Jakob Van Dorp (Wiarton, Ont.) – 1:19:15.7
3rd Simon Cash (Whitehorse) – 1:23:15.5
4th Chris Schmidt (Whitehorse) – 1:23:41.4
5th Mark Rajack (Ottawa) – 1:32:48.7
1st Camille Dionne (Canmore) – 1:31:40.9
2nd Sarah Murray (Whitehorse) – 1:32:32.8
3rd Jan Downing (Whitehorse) – 1:37:42.3
4th Lois Johnston (Whitehorse) – 1:37:43.0
5th Sarah Taylor (Whitehorse) – 1:39:02.4
1st Derek Deuling (Whitehorse) – 48:02.3
1st Sasha Masson(Whitehorse) – 48:02.3
3rd Ben Puskas (Whitehorse) – 51:05.2
4th Liam Mather (Whitehorse) – 54:38.3
5th Nichollis Schmidt (Whitehorse) – 54:50.1
1st Sophia Bond (Whitehorse) – 51:39.6
2nd Sonjaa Schmidt (Whitehorse) – 55:46.3
3rd Dahlia Lapointe (Whitehorse) – 56:54.5
4th Angel Drobricon (Juneau) – 1:00:20.5
5th Dagmar Janzen (Whitehorse) – 1:02:52.3
Boys 11-12 five-kilometre
1st Finn Morley (Juneau) – 26:13.0
2nd Ross Sennett (Whitehorse) – 27:45.3
3rd Mettias Schmidt (Whitehorse) – 27:46.0
4th Noah Connell (Whitehorse) – 30:13.4
5th Robin Elliot (Whitehorse) – 30:29.7
Girls 11-12 five-kilometre
1st Maude Molgat (Whitehorse) – 26:43.0
2nd Constance Lapointe (Whitehorse) – 26:47.7
3rd Kate Mason (Whitehorse) – 27:03.6
4th Maeve McDowell (Whitehorse) – 46:20.5
5th Bella Mouchet (Whitehorse) – 48:37.3
Boys 10-and-under five-kilometre
1st Felix Masson (Whitehorse) – 28:09.2
2nd Louis Mouchet (Whitehorse) – 28:29.7
3rd Misa Svoboda (Whitehorse) – 30:24.3
4th Finn Gallant (Whitehorse) – 30:55.8
5th Nicholas Connell (Whitehorse) – 39:24.3
Girls 10-and-under five-kilometre
1st Abigail Jirousek (Whitehorse) – 32:32.6
2nd Sophia Giangrande (Whitehorse) – 32:58.2
3rd Sophie Molgat (Whitehorse) – 35:07.0
4th Amelie Guilbeault (Whitehorse) – 38:26.6
5th Lucy Baxter (Whitehorse) – 40:15.0
1st Jeni Rudisill (Whitehorse) – 1:26:27.9