Yukon XC skiers have ‘magical’ week at nationals

Not only did the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club tie its previous best finish with second place in the club aggregate standings, it accumulated more hardware than it has in its history at the Haywood Ski Nationals.

The biggest week of the year for Yukon skiers was also its best. Historic, is another word that pops to mind.

Not only did the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club tie its previous best finish with second place in the club aggregate standings, it accumulated more hardware than it has in its history at the Haywood Ski Nationals last week in Corner Brook, NL.

“It was kind of a magical week with everything coming together and everyone racing well at the same time, which doesn’t happen too often,” said Yukon Ski Team head coach Alain Masson. “It was amazing.

“It was great for the kids. A lot of the young ones won medals as well as our more established ones. It was good all the way around.”

The Whitehorse club placed second out of 59 clubs to tie its previous best from 2007 and 2012. It was runner-up to the defending champs, Nakkertok club of Ottawa, which had about 60 skiers competing.

“It’s a real challenge to compete with them because I think we have a total of 17 athletes,” said Masson. “(Nakkertok) is one of the largest racing clubs in Canada. It’s a huge club and they’ve won four or five years in a row now.”

Whitehorse skiers raced to 19 medals, two more than the club’s previous best set at the 2007 nationals.

The Whitehorse club also set a personal best of 10 different skiers taking home hardware and a total of 32 top-10 finishes, set by 12 skiers across five age-groups.

“We just had more of our athletes racing well the same week, which is the difference,” said Masson. “For all of our athletes to be racing well that week is pretty rare … Near the end of the season athletes are tired or sick or not in the best of shape. Last year Emily (Nishikawa) did one race and was far back, and was very tired at the end of the season.

“Also, I think when there’s success on the team early on, it rubs off on the other ones. Gives everybody self-confidence … everybody has a positive attitude.”

Whitehorse’s Dahria Beatty had the largest haul of the Yukon skiers and set her own personal bests.

The 20-year-old, who is skiing in her final season as a junior, won five medals en route to taking first place in the junior women aggregate standings.

It’s the first time she’s won medals in every event she raced and the most medals she’s won at a nationals.

“I really wanted to go out of the junior category as the aggregate winner, that was a goal of mine going into the week,” said Beatty. “I was really happy to accomplish that.”

Beatty, a member of the national junior team, captured three gold medals at nationals for her first time, winning in the five-kilometre classic, the 20-kilometre classic mass start, and in the classic team sprint with Whitehorse Olympian Emily Nishkawa. Beatty also took silver in the 10-kilometre skate and bronze in the sprint.

The five-kilometre classic “stands out the most, not because I won the junior category, but because I was fifth in the open that day and I was only beaten by Olympians,” said Beatty. “I was only three seconds behind one of our world cup athletes and it was my best open result at nationals.”

The Nishikawa siblings, fresh from the Sochi Games, won three medals each.

Emily Nishikawa won gold in the five-kilometre classic, silver in the 30-kilometre classic, and the gold with Beatty in the team sprint. She placed second in aggregate open women.

Emily was the first Yukon cross-country skier to compete at the Olympics since 1992. She led the Canadian team in two races in Sochi, topping out with a 42nd place finish in the 15-kilometre skiathlon.

Graham Nishikawa, who was in Sochi as a guide for gold medalist Brian McKeever at the Paralympics, took gold in the skate sprint, silver in the 15-kilometre skate and bronze in the 50-kilometre classic in Corner Brook. Those results put him second in the aggregate standings for open men.

Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard took three medals at the Haywood with silver in the skate sprint, bronze in the 10-kilometre classic and team sprint with Whitehorse’s Colin Abbott. Johnsgaard, who is finishing his first season in U23, took fourth in the aggregate standings for open men and first in U23 men.

Annah Hanthorn was another three-medal winner last week with bronze in the five-kilometre classic, the 20-kilometre mass start and the team sprint with Whitehorse’s Kendra Murray. Murray placed third overall in the U23 women’s aggregate standings.

Hanthorn is just finishing her first season on the Whitehorse club, having moved from Fort McPherson, N.W.T., during the off-season.

“Now she lives in Whitehorse and trains with us and she did amazing,” said Masson.

Other Whitehorse medalists include Caelan Mclean with gold in the 15-kilometre classic, taking third in junior boys aggregate; Simon Cash with a silver in the 10-kilometre classic for juvenile boys; and Hannah Deuling with silver in the 7.5-kilometre classic, finishing fifth in juvenile girls aggregate standings.

“It was a great nationals for the whole team,” said Beatty. “It was really exciting to see some of the young skiers doing well, as well as the everyone else who has performed before at nationals. It was a great week for us.”

Yukon athletes also won two ulu medals in cross-country skiing at the Arctic Winter Games last week in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Hannah Jirousek won Yukon’s first medal of the Games with a bronze in the five-kilometre freestyle for midget female on March 17.

Yukon then won another bronze in the 3×3-kilometre freestyle relay last Friday on the final day of competition in cross-country.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Whitehorse RCMP will provide internet safety training due to an uptick of child luring offences. (iStock photo)
RCMP hosting internet safety webinars for parents and caregivers

The webinars will take place on March 23 and 25

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

Most Read