Whitehorse XC skiers a quarter of national team

Only 12 cross-country skiers in Canada are good enough to make the national senior team. Three of them are from Whitehorse.

Only 12 cross-country skiers in Canada are good enough to make the national senior team.

Three of them are from Whitehorse.

Emily Nishikawa, Dahria Beatty and Knute Johnsgaard will be skiing for the nation next winter, Cross Country Canada announced earlier this month.

For Johnsgaard, the nomination to Canada’s national team is the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

“I’m very humbled by my nomination to the team. I’ve been working for this my whole life so to finally make the team is a huge pay off,” said Johnsgaard in an email to the News. “I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Johnsgaard, who made the national junior team in 2010, had a big February. The 22-year-old placed 14th in a sprint race to lead Canada at the FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Championships in Kazakhstan.

He then won Yukon its first gold of the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, taking first in the men’s 10-kilometre classic.

“My highlight last year was my gold medal at Canada Games but ultimately it was my 14th place at U23 world championships that got me on the national team,” said Johnsgaard, who also won a bronze at Haywood Ski Nationals in March.

“My nomination to the team will give me more World Cup opportunities where I’ll hope to earn a top-30 placing.”

Next season will be Nishikawa’s fifth consecutive on the national team. The 25-year-old, who competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, produced three top-30 results on the FIS World Cup tour in Europe last season.

“I was fairly confident I was going to be renamed to the team after my season, but it’s nice to see it officially, and it’s an honour to be on the national team every year,” said Nishikawa. “I’m very happy to be renamed to the team.”

Nishikawa also raced at her second world championships in March, then won gold in the women’s 10-kilometre classic at the Haywood Nationals.

Beatty, 21, will make it six years straight on the team, if you count four on the junior national team before moving up to senior last season.

“Most of the (team members) are based in Canmore here, so Emily and I are training together here in Canmore and Knute has moved down here,” said Beatty. “We have access to good support through the Calgary Sport Institute and the national team coaching staff.”

Beatty, 21, placed in the 20s in four events in the Scandinavian Cup this season and placed 20th in the sprint at the FIS U23 World Ski Championships in February. She also won three medals on the NorAm circuit over the winter.

Beatty wrapped up the season wining the five-kilometre skate at the Haywood Nationals on her way to a first place in U23 aggregate standings and second for senior women.

“It was a very good week for me overall, especially in my first year as a senior,” said Beatty of the nationals. “I placed fifth and sixth in the other races, so overall I was very happy with the week.”

Next season will be an exciting one for all Canadian team skiers. The greatest skiers in the world will be coming to the Great White North for a series of eight World Cup races – the first World Cup races in Canada in three years – in March.

The Tour of Canada will consist of eight races – four in Quebec and four in Alberta – with overall winners crowned at the end.

“It’s eight races in which all the World Cup racers will be coming over to North America and racing on our home field,” said Beatty. “It’s formatted in a tour, so everyone will start the first race in Quebec and those same people race in all of the following races and there’s a winner of the overall tour.

“That will be an amazing experience for us to have that much World Cup racing at home and hopefully have a bit of a home-field advantage with all the travel. Usually we’re the ones who have to make the big time-change adjustment in Europe.”

Nishikawa, Beatty and Johnsgaard then get to come home to race as Whitehorse hosts the 2016 Haywood Ski Nationals. Between 450 and 500 skiers are expected to compete at the 89th annual event.

“There are a lot of races to look forward to this season, with the Tour of Canada … to finish off the World Cup season,” said Nishikawa. “That’s a big highlight for all of us next year. And to finish off the season with nationals in Whitehorse, there’s nothing better than racing in your hometown. I’m really excited about that.”

Contact Tom Patrick at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read