Yukon women lead Canada at junior/U23 worlds

Whitehorse's top female skiers must be feeling good about the upcoming Haywood Nationals, Canada's cross-country ski championships.

Whitehorse’s top female skiers must be feeling good about the upcoming Haywood Nationals, Canada’s cross-country ski championships.

Emily Nishikawa, Janelle Greer and Dahria Beatty all had at least one race in which they were Canada’s top finisher at the World Junior and U23 Championships that wrapped up in Erzurum, Turkey, on the weekend.

Nishikawa, who competed in the women’s U23 division, not only produced Canada’s top placement in two races, she had the best result of any Canadian female in Turkey Ð junior or U23.

The 22-year-old, who was competing in her third and final junior/U23 worlds, finished 17th in the 10-kilometre individual classic on Thursday, just 31 seconds from a top-10 placement.(Canada’s Graeme Killick, competing in the U23 men’s division, took 15th in Saturday’s skiathlon for Canada’s best finish.)

Nishikawa also came 27th in the skiathlon (7.5-kilometres of classic followed by 7.5-kilometres of free technique) on Saturday for Canada’s top spot and placed 33rd in the sprint event for Canada’s second-best finish.

Greer was put on Team Canada to perform well in the sprint and she did just that. The 19-year-old finished 28th in the junior women’s skate-sprint for Canada’s strongest finish in the sprints. She was the only Canadian Ð male or female Ð to advance past the qualifying round in the sprints on Feb. 20. Greer then placed 28th in the five-kilometre classic and 47th in the 10-kilometre skiathlon on Friday.

Beatty took in two top-25 performances in the junior women division. Competing in her second junior worlds, Beatty raced to 25th in the five-kilometre individual classic for Team Canada’s top spot in the race. The 17-year-old also placed 23rd in the skiathlon, five spots back from Canada’s top finisher Anne-Marie Comeau, and 48th in the sprint.

The Yukon also had two male competitors at the championships, bringing the total to a record five at the event. Both skiers produced second-best finishes for Team Canada.

Competing in U23, David Greer came 35th in the skiathlon (15-kilometre classic and 15-kilometres free) and 36th in the 15-kilometre classic on Thursday. He also placed 47th in the sprint on Feb. 21.

In addition to dealing with Turkey’s 1,800-metre altitudes, Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard also had to cope with an undetermined illness. Just a week before the championships, he was hospitalized for a day and given fluids intravenously.

Johnsgaard, nonetheless, placed 49th in Friday’s junior men skiathlon and 51st in the sprint for the second-best Canadian finish on Feb 20.

The five Yukoners were selected for Team Canada after winning a total of 11 medals at the Haywood NorAm qualification races at B.C.‘s Whistler Olympic Park in mid-January.

Contact Tom Patrick at