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XC skiers win three ulus in distance races

After being held to one medal in the first two days of racing, Yukon cross-country head coach Alain Masson said to watch out for his team in Thursday's long-distance classic races. He knows his stuff.

After being held to one medal in the first two days of racing, Yukon cross-country head coach Alain Masson said to watch out for his team in Thursday’s long-distance classic races.

He knows his stuff.

Team Yukon skiers had their best day in the distance races, winning three medals in Arctic Winter Games cross-country skiing at the Whitehorse Nordic Centre last week.

With those three medals in the distance races, Team Yukon finished last week’s Games with a total of four ulus.

“Distance and classic are usually our best,” said Masson. “If you look at all the placings, everybody did better on Thursday than they did on Monday.

“Here the type of snow and weather we get tends to favour classic skiing a lot. These skiers are all based in Whitehorse and they just get exposed to classic skiing a lot more than skate skiing because the snow is quite dry and slow most of the time. So they don’t get to do much skate skiing.

“When they leave the Yukon to another area of the country that changes fairly quickly for them.

“We’ve had some good sprinters, but with this group, typically, they are better distance skiers.”

Included in the three medals on Thursday were two golds.

The Yukon’s Katie Peters won gold in the junior female 10-kilometre classic, crossing the finish line almost 30 seconds ahead of silver’s Ann Penelope Spencer from Alaska.

Racing in the junior male 10-kilometre classic, Team Yukon’s Fabian Brook won gold with 10 seconds to spare. After the first two days of racing, Brook was the only medal winner for the Yukon, snagging a bronze in Monday’s five-kilometre freestyle race. He also took fifth in Tuesday’s 750-metre sprint.

The Yukon’s third medal on Thursday was claimed by juvenile male Caelan Pangman McLean. He took bronze, just 3.4 seconds behind the gold medalist.

Other strong finishes by Yukon skiers in Thursday’s distance race include juvenile females Cambria Fuerstner and Eliza Paul, finishing ninth and 10th respectively.

In the midget division, males Ian Hodgeboom-Burr placed seventh, Simon Cash ninth and female Natalie Hynes fifth.

None of the Yukon’s four relay teams managed to pull off a medal on Friday.

“We were close a few times, but not close enough to get an ulu,” said Masson.

The Yukon’s midget and junior teams, male and female, all finished in fourth in the relays. Team Yukon’s juvenile female team came in sixth and the juvenile male team in fifth.

“It was really organized at our venue, everything worked out perfectly, had no issues,” he added. “It was great for the kids to race in front of their friends and family and race in their hometown. So I think everyone was excited and it was a positive experience.”

Brook and Peters will be representing the Yukon once again at the Haywood Ski Nationals, the Canadian championships. That competition begins March 17 at Mont Ste. Anne in Quebec.

Contact Tom Patrick at