Continuing their high from the Canada Winter Games, Yukon skiers set a territory record by winning 17 medals at the National Cross Country Ski Championships in Ste. Anne, Quebec.
On the last day of competition on Sunday, the Yukoners finished on a high note in the junior girls’ 10-kilometre free technique race with Bryn Knight and Emily Nishikawa sharing the podium for the third time with their gold and silver medals respectively.
The two finished so closely that Knight’s victory was a photo finish, with Nishikawa only three tenths of a second behind.
In the junior boys’ 15-kilometre race, David Greer earned his second gold of the event after taking control of the race on the last uphill climb and winning it by a 13-second margin from the second-place finisher.
Greer also took two silver medals during the week of competition.
Then Janelle Greer, who won two silvers and a bronze earlier in the week, finished with a gold-medal performance in the juvenile girls’ 7.5-kilometre race.
The race in Quebec was quite cold in the beginning of the week, resembling conditions the Yukon skiers are used to at home, but by midweek it began to rain.
“We finished the championships in spring-like conditions,” said coach Alain Masson in a phone interview while he and his team waited for their connecting flight out of Toronto Monday morning.
But the weather didn’t deter team Yukon.
“After the Canada Winter Games, everyone was really excited to compete in the nationals. They were hungry and wanted to do really well,” added Masson.
Coming from a small club in Whitehorse, the skiers can feel intimidated competing against the bigger clubs on a national level, but last week’s results have proved Yukon skiers can be competitive with bigger clubs in Canada, Masson noted.
“It just shows the younger skiers that if they train well, they can be competitive on a national level.”
Also, for the first time, three Yukon skiers won the national aggregate titles in their categories.
They were Janelle Greer, Emily Nishikawa and David Greer.
The aggregate is based on skiers’ totals from the four races in ranking and position.
Brittany Smith, Logan Potter and Graham Nishikawa each finished in the top ten on Sunday’s races. Ten Yukon skiers competed in Quebec.
“We’ve shown the country that the Yukon is a force to be reckoned with,” said Masson.