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Yukon cross-country team celebrates national-level talent

Three Yukoners nominated for Canada’s National Ski Team

Cross Country Yukon, the governing body for cross country skiing in the territory, celebrated the successes of three Yukon skiers at an event which took place at Whitehorse’s Nordic Centre, on Tuesday 14, 2024.

Derek Deuling, Sonja Schmidt, and Sasha Masson wrapped up the competitive season with podium finishes, earning them nominations to the national ski team and an opportunity to compete at the world cup circuit for the 2024-25 competitive ski season.

Deuling and Schmidt took home gold medals at the world under-23 cross-country ski championship in the Slovenian valley of, Planica, on Feb. 11 and Feb. 6, 2024. Schmidt notably made Canadian skiing history by becoming the first women to achieve gold for the U23 title.

Masson finished the 2023-24 season with two bronze medals and finished top 10 for more than half a dozen events. His steady streak of outstanding performances rapidly increased his ranking on the International Ski and Snowboard Federation’s, FIS point scorecard.

Additionally, Cross Country Yukon celebrated Constance Lapointe once again being nominated to the national development team, and Minty Bradford being nominated to train the national prospects team.

Skiers from different development stages were present at the event to cheer on and celebrate the achievements of Deuling, Schmidt, and Masson.

Head coach and sporting coordinator for Cross Country Yukon, Graham Nishikawa, told the News that the Yukon provides a perfect environment for athletes wanting to develop a professional career on the world stage, saying:

“There’s a great ski community here, there’s many passionate parents, volunteers, officials, and the board, I think that’s what keeps skiers developing.”

Nishikawa commented on the governing body’s strategy of working with athletes to compete according to where they are in the development of their athletic career.

“All the way down through our system we were trying to make sure athletes ended up in the right competition, throughout every level of development. We did a great job taking athletes to the western championships, the Artic Winter Games, national championships, the junior trials, and Sasha, Darren, and Sonja taking on the world cup.”

Cross Country Yukon’s various programs aimed at skiers of different abilities has had a strong influence on shaping the territory’s ski community. The youth squad program in particular has had a profound impact on guiding young people toward becoming professional athletes, Nishikawa said.

Nishikawa commented on Masson’s trajectory of his many years in training, moving between different development stages, and finding his competitive footing all the way through to the FIS Cross-Country world cup.

The youth program is made up six different squads from age brackets six up to 15-plus and run by a group of volunteer coach’s.

Deuling, Schmidt, and Masson are currently preparing for the 2024-25 competitive season by training at locations across the country, hoping to take home  gold for the 2024-25 FIS Cross Country World Cup.

Contact Jake Howarth at