It took training, some tears and suffering through a cold and grueling qualifier in the Rocky Mountains, but Whitehorse-born cross-country skier Dahria Beatty is bound for her second Olympic Games.
Beatty, 27, clinched a spot on the Canadian Olympic team heading to Beijing at the end of this month ahead of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games that open February 4.
Beatty said she qualified for her 2018 Olympic appearance at the Pyeonchang, South Korea games based on World Cup results well in advance of the start of the games. In contrast, Beatty’s Olympic hopes went down to the wire this year.
“It was a very kind of all or nothing mentality that I had to go into it with,” Beatty said of the qualifier races held in Canmore, Alberta over the Jan. 7 to 9 weekend.
The stakes of the weekend’s second half were raised for Beatty with a disappointing finish in her first qualifier race that resulted from tactical errors in the final.
“Well, the first thing I did was I cried,” Beatty said of the race results.
“I was disappointed in myself mostly, and just disappointed in how things went in general. So, I gave myself a little moment to be upset about it and then I met with my coach that afternoon and we just regrouped, completely put the previous race away, stopped thinking about it, and just kind of made a plan of how we are going to execute the following races.”
The next race up was a 10 km classic ski qualifier on Saturday, Jan. 8. Beatty said she knew she was capable of meeting the qualification standard in this race. She would have to either win outright or finish second to Katherine Stewart-Jones, who had qualified before the Olympic trials in Canmore began.
At the start line of the 10 km qualifier the air was cold, hovering around -18C and snow conditions were slow— it was a day more likely to break athletes’ spirits than course records.
“I knew it wasn’t gonna be tactics that it was just going to be who could who could suffer the most and who was in the best shape,” Beatty said.
Beatty said she doesn’t remember much from kilometre six onwards as she reached a level of deep fatigue and said her body “ran on autopilot” to carry her across the finish line.
In the end, Beatty crossed the line half a second behind Stewart Jones to lock up a spot on the Olympic team. She is already at the Olympic team’s training camp near Vernon British Columbia alongside the other three women and the three men who Canada will be sending to Beijing along with the Olympic team’s alternates.
Beatty said her second Olympic qualification is just as exciting as her first. Although her enthusiasm is every bit as high as it was in 2018, Beatty said she knows it will be a different games due to the COVID-19 pandemic that she and her fellow athletes will be flying out for on Jan. 26.
“There’s going to be a lot less interaction with other sports and other countries. That whole multi-sport games feel, I don’t think will be there in the same way,” Beatty said.
While she said some of the spectacle and camaraderie that make the Olympics what they are may be missed, Beatty expects the modified games may result in a feel more similar to a World Cup cross country event something she is no stranger to.
Beatty joins Cendrine Browne as the only returning Olympians on the Canadian cross-country team bound for Beijing. She said she feels she has a role easing the process for her uninitiated teammates and sharing any small tips that she hopes can help them.
“The Olympics are very exciting but they’re also a large and overwhelming experience,” she said.
Beatty said a key goal for her in the coming games is to be named to Canada’s team for the team sprint event which she said is her favourite event in cross-country skiing. After making the team she hopes to outdo her 2018 performance in which she and fellow Yukoner Emily Nishikawa barely missed the finals.
“To achieve a goal with a teammate is that much more meaningful than on your own. So that’s definitely a big target for me,” she said.
Contact Jim Elliot at email@example.com