Whitehorse’s Natalie Hynes turned in some impressive results at the Junior World Ski Championships, which were held in Goms, Switzerland, from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3.
Hynes was the top Canadian in the five-km classic race, finishing in 36th with a time of 15 minutes and 29.2 seconds. Russia’s Polina Nekrasova won the event.
In the 10-km skiathlon, Hynes finished 24th — a personal best at the junior worlds — and was again the top Canadian with a time of 35 minutes and 35.7 seconds. Frida Karlsson of Sweden took the win.
Hynes was also part of the Canadian relay team that finished 15th in the 4×3.3-km race.
Overall, Hynes said the entire trip was great.
“It was another great international racing experience,” said Hynes. “It was lots of new things to learn, but also — it being my third time — I’m starting to get more comfortable on the international race scene.”
A health sciences student at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Hynes hasn’t had an easy season and didn’t think qualifying was likely.
“It’s not been the best season for me,” said Hynes. “I had a cold for a really long time and then some other health complications.”
Circumstances made fall training difficult and Hynes said she wasn’t where she wanted to be at the start of the Canadian trials.
“I wasn’t expecting to qualify, but things worked out better than I hoped.”
Aside from her own races, Hynes said it was a cool experience to see her UAA Seawolves teammate, Hailey Swirbul, podium for the American team.
“I had two teammates there representing the United States,” said Hynes. “[Swirbul] was on the podium two days of the championship, so as far as a university teammate goes, that was a pretty cool highlight to get to watch her.”
This year is the last time Hynes will compete at the junior level before she is focused on the move up to U23 next season.
“I’m going to be at the bottom of the group again,” said Hynes. “I’m definitely going to work my hardest to try and race up in that category. I think for now my main focus is to gain more experience racing against faster people, having spent the last couple years in a younger category.”
Balancing competitive skiing with university studies may seem like a lot, but Hynes said she enjoys the challenge.
“I think it really keeps things in perspective for me and gives me things to focus on in both aspects, so I don’t have to just be skiing or just be doing school,” said Hynes. “It really helps me to have both to balance between.”
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