Yukoners named to Youth Olympic Games team

Derek Deuling and Sasha Masson will ski for Canada at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland

Nordiq Canada, formerly Cross Country Canada, announced on Dec. 19 the cross-country skiing team that will represent Canada at the upcoming 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland and two Yukoners cracked the roster of four.

Whitehorse’s Derek Deuling and Sasha Masson will ski for Canada the event in Lausanne, Switzerland, from Jan. 9 to 22.

Both Masson and Deuling had similar feelings when the official announcement came down — relief.

“I think it’s been a relief,” said Masson. “It wasn’t quite official, so with the announcement it really makes it official and kind of put things in perspective.”

Deuling added that both skiers performed very well in trials earlier this month in Canmore, Alta.

“I mean, I talk for both of us here — but we had really awesome races in Canmore,” said Deuling.

The two friends have been training and competing together since they were six, and both said taking part in this event together will add something to the experience.

“It definitely enriches the experience,” said Deuling. “I mean, getting to share that with someone you’ve trained with all your life and been friends with — we’ve done everything since we were six years old — it’s going to definitely make the experiences that much better than it already was going to be.”

Masson agreed.

“Definitely. Because we’ve been friends for so long, it’ll be pretty cool to experience one of our main events together,” said Masson. “It’s pretty cool to come back and share the stories together.”

Due to the short notice and the tight scheduling, the skiers will travel to the games without having met their coaches — Matt Smider and Katie McMahon — and will forego a training camp.

“I think there is a different aspect if you do go on a training camp and then go to the games,” said Masson. “Whereas just going to the games and meeting your fellow teammates and coaches, that’ll be pretty fun.”

Both skiers said they’re looking forward to the skate-sprint race that includes technical elements like jumps, something akin to ski cross, at the event.

“It’s kind of involving bicycle bumps, twists and turns, jumps and everything to kind of get the agility mixed with the skiing,” said Deuling. “It’s actually a relay mixed with different people. So it’s going to be cross-country skiers and nordic combined skiers, so that’ll definitely be the coolest event and opportunity.”

Among the more traditional races, Deuling said he’s looking forward to the 10-kilometre classic race while Masson said he’s ready for the skate sprint.

“I think we’ll both do well all three days, but we’ll try our hardest and it’ll be fun,” said Masson.

The Youth Olympic Games are just that — a mini Olympics — and will include nearly 2,000 athletes from 70 countries, so both Deuling and Masson are excited to meet other athletes like themselves.

“It’s not just a ski competition,” said Deuling. “it’s going to be really cool to see all the youth around the world compete and everybody having the same opportunity to prove yourself.”

“To meet people our age that are high-performance athletes is going to be really fun,” said Masson.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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