A huge field of competitors didn’t prevent the Yukon Ski Team from collecting hardware and a bushel of top-10 finishes at the Haywood NorAm Canadian Eastern Championships in Cantley, Que.
They are too fast to let that happen.
The Yukon team sped to four medals at the event hosted by the Nakkertok South Nordic Centre.
“It was a great experience for the kids,” said Yukon Ski team Alain Masson. “I think it was the biggest fields ever — 835 registered for the weekend, which was the biggest for easterns. It’s always the biggest event in Canada, but this one was incredibly big.
“It was challenging. The seeding in some of the younger categories, if you don’t carry good points, it was hard because you start way at the back. So your chances are limited, but it was a really good experience for everybody to be able to race with so many kids.”
With over 800 cross-country skiers — more than the 500 who competed at the Haywood Ski Nationals last season in Whitehorse — some of the younger divisions, like juvenile and junior boys and girls, were split up by year of birth.
“They do that every year with that massive field … to recognize more skiers,” said Masson.
The easterns consisted of sprints on Feb. 3, classic races Feb. 4 and skate races Feb. 5.
Hannah Deuling won half of Yukon’s medal haul in Cantley. She claimed silver in both the 7.5-kilometre classic and the sprint in junior girls (year of birth 1999). She also placed fifth in the 10-kilometre skate.
Teammate Amanda Thomson captured bronze in the sprint for junior girls (2000). Thomson, who won her first Don Sumanik trophy two weeks ago in Whitehorse, also placed fifth in the classic and seventh in the skate.
Derek Deuling sped to bronze in the classic for juvenile boys (2002). He placed fifth in his other two races.
Caelan McLean, who won a bronze at the western championships last month, placed seventh in the 15-kilometre classic and 20-kilometre skate in the junior men.
Yukon’s Mira Mason was edged off the podium to fourth in the sprint for junior girls (1999). She also placed eighth in the classic and 10th in the skate.
Sonjaa Schmidt picked up a sixth place finish in the classic for juvenile girls (2002).
Sasha Masson took 13th in the classic for juvenile boys (2002) and 23rd in his other two races.
Nichollis Schmidt placed 13th, 14th and 15th in that order in the same division as Sasha.
Also in the division, Victor Emile Thibeault posted 15th in the classic and sprint.
Michael Kishchuk placed 17th in the sprint for junior boys (1999), Ben Puskas 22nd in the sprint for juvenile boys (2002), and Romeo Champagne, who is also an accomplished biathlete, 29th in the classic for juvenile boys (2002).
Also competing was a “B Tour” team of Yukoners who traveled to the championships independently and raced the last two days.
Amanda Jirousek pulled off ninth in the skate and 13th in the classic for juvenile girls (2000). Dahlia Lapointe placed 16th in the classic for juvenile girls (2002). Sofia Bond reached 34th in the classic for juvenile girls (2001).
“It was great preparation for the nationals in just over a month,” said Alain Masson. “We know what we have to work on and we have five weeks to try to improve on a few aspects.”
The Haywood Ski Nationals will take place March 18-24 in Canmore, Alta.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org