And so it begins: another race season and with it a deluge of hardware from Yukon skiers.
The Yukon Ski Team sped to eight medals and 21 finishes in the top 10 at the opening of the Haywood NorAm season - the Alberta Cups 1 and 2 and Buff Sprints - over the weekend and Tuesday in Canmore, Alta.
“We were excited to get going just to see how all the training from the spring, summer and fall has been going,” said Yukon Ski Team head coach Alain Masson. “I think it’s a great start with lots of great performances. So the athletes are excited and it’s a great way to build self-confidence for the rest of the season.”
Not surprisingly, a few of the medals came from Dahria Beatty and Knute Johnsgaard, who are both members of Canada’s development team.
Beatty, 21, opened with seventh in the open women’s five-kilometre classic Saturday before snatching gold in the 10-kilometre free Sunday and the 1.5-kilometre classic sprint Tuesday.
Johnsgaard, 23, picked up silver in the open men’s 10-kilometre and 16.2-kilometre, and then took sixth in Thursday’s Buff sprint.
Junior girls competitor Natalie Hynes was the only Yukon skier to make the podium in every race. Hynes claimed bronze in the five-kilometre classic, silver in the six-kilometre free and gold in Tuesday’s sprint, the last of which was a qualifier race for the quadrennial Youth Olympic Games this February in Lillehammer, Norway.
Yukon’s other medal came from junior men’s Caelan McLean in Tuesday’s sprint.
“It was a great start for some of our younger juniors. So it’s very exciting to start that way,” said Masson.
Yukon’s Hannah Deuling was one of the few to place top-10 each race. The junior girls took seventh in Saturday’s five-kilometre, fourth in Sunday’s six-kilometre and ninth in Tuesday’s sprint.
Juvenile girl’s Amanda Thomson placed sixth Saturday and Sunday. Simon Cash took seventh Saturday and sixth in the sprint for junior boys.
Other top Yukon results include Colon Abbott seventh for open men Saturday; Annah Hanthorn ninth for open women Saturday; Graham Nishikawa sixth for open men Sunday; and Mira Mason ninth in junior girls Sunday.
“I think yesterday was the most surprising because usually (sprints) are not our best event and I think yesterday was a really good day overall,” said Masson on Wednesday. “We have greater expectations on distance days than sprint days.”
Meanwhile, Whitehorse’s Emily Nishikawa placed 52nd in the women’s 15-kilometre skiathlon at a FIS World Cup on Saturday in Lillehammer, Norway.
Canada’s World Cup team will race in Davos, Switzerland this weekend.
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