Amanda Thomson, seen here during the Don Sumanik Memorial Race in 2017, won the U20 women interval start classic 10-kilometre at the 2020 Haywood Western Canada Cup on Jan. 18. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)

Yukon skiers battle both rain and heavy snowfall at 2020 Haywood Western Canada Cup

“They also realize that you have to be ready for anything — extreme cold or extreme warm.”

It was a busy weekend for Yukon cross-country skiers at the 2020 Haywood Western Canada Cup at Callaghan Valley near Whistler, B.C., from Jan. 17 to 19.

Cross Country Yukon head coach Alain Masson said this was a larger than average turnout of Yukon skiers.

“We had a large number of athletes because we had two teams travelling to the event,” said Masson, explaining that the under 16 and under 18 high-performance team was at the event as well as the under 14 team.

“I think we were the club with the most athletes at this competition this weekend.”

In addition to the youth teams, Team Canada’s Emily Nishikawa was also competing at the event.

Masson said it was a great competition and that a number of athletes had particularly strong results, with more than 20 total top 10 finishes for Yukoners.

Things got underway on Jan. 17 with free sprint competition for older athletes and a prologue event for younger athletes.

The best result in the sprint came from Sonjaa Schmidt, who won the U18 girls category after qualifying in third place. Victor-Emile Thibeault finished second in the U18 boys final after qualifying fifth and Amanda Thomson finished fourth in the U20 women category.

Three Yukoners also managed to crack the top 10 in the U16 girls sprint — Kate Mason finished fourth in the final while Constance Lapointe and Maude Molgat were ninth and 10th after the semifinals.

In the U14 prologue, there were three more top 10s. Sophie Molgat finished eighth in the girls event and Felix Masson and Simon Connell finished ninth and 10th in the boys event.

Conditions took a bit of a turn on day two of racing, something Alain said is always a challenge for skiers.

“The next day a huge amount of snow came down making it slightly warmer conditions,” said Alain. “It made the races really challenging, especially for Yukon skiers who never see these conditions other than at (Callaghan Valley) or perhaps if we go to Atlantic Canada.”

The snow and warm, Alain explained, means skiers need to adjust in a number of ways.

“There is hardly a track for classic because so much snow is falling the grooming can’t really keep pace with the snowfall,” said Alain. “You have to adjust your technique. The poles are sinking. Every tight corner is very challenging because the skiers will chew up the snow, so it’s a very different style of skiing.”

Skiers have to use wax that isn’t optimized for the conditions, but all the skiers are equally affected.

“For most Yukoners, they see that once every couple of years — if that,” said Alain. “It’s very similar for most kids — except the ones who are based in that area of the country — so it’s not that anybody is better at it.”

Given conditions, the number of top 10s from Yukon skiers in the interval start classic races on Jan. 18 are all the more impressive.

In the women’s 10-kilometre classic race, Thomson won the U20 category and Nishikawa won the senior category.

Schmidt finished sixth in the U18 girls 7.5-km category and Sophia Giangrande finished seventh in the U16 girls five-km category.

Felix finished seventh in the U14 boys five-km category and Cheyenne Tirschmann finished 10th in the U14 girls 2.5-km category.

Day three of competition featured the conditions perhaps most foreign to Yukon skiers — rainy and warm.

“It was really wet and above zero,” said Alain. “We never race in the rain — it’s extremely rare for us, especially in the middle of the winter in January. It’s quite different. It’s important for athletes to be exposed to that because they will get better and they also realize that you have to be ready for anything — extreme cold or extreme warm.”

In the men’s 15-km mass start free race, Thibeault was eighth in the U20 men category and Matthias Purdon was 10th in the senior men category.

Thomson and Schmidt finished fourth and sixth respectively in the U20 women category of the 15-km mass start free race and Nishikawa won the senior women category.

Rounding out the top 10s for Yukon skiers were four strong finishes in U14 relay competition. Yukon Do It — comprised of Felix, Connell and Daniel Phillips-Freedman — finished fourth in the boys category with CCY Zoom By — made up of Jonah McConnell, Finnegan Gallant, Jan Zumer-Brewis — finishing seventh.

Yukon Rapids — Sophie Molgat, Tirschmann and Tess Cairns-McDowell — finished fifth in the girls category and Team Territories — Kalia Graham and Sadie Cairns-McDowell — finished ninth.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at

Haywood Western Canada Cup Results

Skate sprint results

U20 women

1 Benita Peiffer
2 Elizabeth Elliott
3 Marielle Ackermann
4 Amanda Thomson
12 Hannah Jirousek

U18 boys

1 Grayson McKinnon
2 Victor-Emile Thibeault
3 Tyson Green
13 Romeo Champagne
20 Curtis Cash

U18 girls

1 Sonjaa Schmidt
2 Marlie Molinaro
3 Natalie Thain

U16 boys

1 Garrett Siever
2 Aidan Hay
3 Hugo Henckel
11 Noah Connell

U16 girls

1 Zara Bucher
2 Samantha Vukadinovic
3 Moira Green
4 Kate Mason
9 Constance Lapointe
10 Maude Molgat
14 Sophia Giangrande
23 Abbigail Jirousek
33 Bella Mouchet (qualification)

Prologue results

U14 girls

1 Meya Musseau 9:21.6
2 Alessia Galvagno 9:22.9
3 Anna Segelken 9:24.0
8 Sophie Molgat 9:39.7
12 Cheyenne Tisrchmann 10:09.0
18 Tess Cairns-McDowell 10:30.0
26 Kalia Graham 11:07.2
DNS Sadie Cairns-McDowell

U14 boys

1 Lucas Gitt 7:55.0
2 Aiden Armstrong 8:04.6
3 Lenni Stich 8:04.8
9 Felix Masson 9:01.9
10 Simon Connell 9:09.0
15 Daniel Phillips-Freedman 9:30.0
17 Jonah McConnell 9:41.5
24 Finnegan Gallant 10:39.3
28 Jan Zumer-Brewis 11:00.0

Inteval start classic results

U20 women

1 Amanda Thomson 39:27.9
2 Beth Granstrom 29:41.7
3 Anna Parent 40:39.8

Senior women

1 Emily Nishikawa 35:42.4
2 Annika Richardson 38:33.8
3 Sadie White 38:51.4

U18 boys

1 Fred Albrechtson 33:56.9
2 Grayson McKinnon 34:28.7
3 Ian Mayer 34:40.5
16 Victor-Emile Thibeault 37:34.7
22 Curtis Cash 39:58.0
23 Romeo Champagne 41:27.4

U18 girls

1 Maggie Beckner 30:25.2
2 Emily Macleod 30:26.4
3 Masha Stich 30:58.8
6 Sonjaa Schmidt 31:30.2

U16 boys

1 Garrett Siever 26:03.1
2 Elliot Wilson 26:18.2
3 Aidan Hay 26:27.5
16 Noah Connell 29:47.7

U16 girls

1 Alexandra Luxmoore 19:39.1
2 Samantha Vukadinovic 20:03.3
3 Julianne Moore 20:06.8
7 Sophia Giangrande 21:06.7
11 Constance Lapointe 21:24.1
17 Maude Molgat 21:45.4
19 Kate Mason 22:00.8
32 Bella Mouchet 23:17.0
35 Abbigail Jirousek 23:22.7

U14 boys

1 Finn Redman 18:51.7
2 Eamon Wilson 19:11.1
3 Aiden Armstrong 19:14.7
7 Felix Masson 20:10.5
11 Simon Connell 21:19.7
17 Jonah McConnell 22:41.4
23 Daniel Phillips-Freedman 23:31.3
24 Finnegan Gallant 23:53.0
29 Jan Zumer-Brewis 24:53.4

U14 girls

1 Ruby Serrouya 10:01.1
2 Isabella Pighin 10:32.3
3 Madelaine Galik 10:36.3
10 Cheyenne Tirschmann 11:17.5
11 Sophie Molgat 11:18.2
26 Kalia Graham 12:15.8
31 Sadie Cairns-McDowell 12:59.8
36 Tess Cairns-McDowell 14:59.0

Mass start free results

U20 men

1 Ian Williams 38:41.5
2 Michael Murdoch 39:38.4
3 Fred Albrechtson 40:14.1
8 Victor-Emile Thibeault 41:14.0
16 Noah Connell 46:44.9
17 Romeo Champagne 47:52.1
18 Curtis Cash 47:52.3

Senior men

1 Russell Kennedy 37:29.4
2 Gareth Williams 37:31.0
3 Jack Carlyle 37:48.8
10 Matthias Purdon 42:38.2

U20 women

1 Elizabeth Elliott 45:14.6
2 Benita Peiffer 45:25.1
3 Karly Coyne 46:16.8
4 Amanda Thomson 46:17.2
6 Sonjaa Schmidt 48:42.8
11 Sophia Giangrande 51:20.0
12 Kate Mason 52:11.7
13 Hannah Jirousek 52:38.1
15 Constance Lapointe 53:54.2
16 Abbigail Jirousek 54:16.1
18 Bella Mouchet 55:47.8
19 Maude Molgat 57:24.2

Senior women

1 Emily Nishikawa 43:06.7
2 Gina Cinelli 45:20.5
3 Sadie White 46:03.7

Relay results

U14 boys

1 BC-1 21:30.8
2 BC-2 22:18.0
3 Yukon Do It (Felix Masson, Simon Connell, Daniel Phillips-Freedman) 23:20.7
7 CCY Zoom By (Jonah McConnell, Finnegan Gallant, Jan Zumer-Brewis) 27:09.3

U14 girls

1 BC-1 24:19.7
2 BC-2 25:01.8
3 BC-3 25:43.2
5 Yukon Rapids (Sophie Molgat, Cheyenne Tirschmann, Tess Cairns-McDowell) 26:32.2
9 Team Territories (Kalia Graham, Sadie Cairns-McDowell, Kalia Graham) 29:38.1

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