Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 10, 2014

Emily Nishikawa glides closer to Olympic goal

It was a tale of two races for the Nishikawa siblings at the Olympic trials in Canmore, Alta. yesterday.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm

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NOT HIS BEST DAY – Graham Nishikawa, wearing the yellow jersey as the current Haywood NorAms distance leader, finished seventh in the first men’s distance race (right). CLOSER TO SOCHI – Whitehorse cross-country skier Emily Nishikawa blazed to victory yesterday in the first of two distance Olympic trial races in Canmore, Alta. Photos courtesy LES BEREZOWSKI

It was a tale of two races for the Nishikawa siblings at the Olympic trials in Canmore, Alta. yesterday.

While 24-year-old Emily Nishikawa put together one of the best races of her career, her 30-year-old brother Graham struggled en route to a seventh place finish.

The Whitehorse cross-country skiers are the Yukon’s two Olympic hopefuls for the upcoming Games in Sochi next month.

Emily won her 10-km individual start classic-ski race by a whopping 55 seconds, and has put herself in an excellent position heading into Sunday’s second distance race – a 15-km skiathlon.

“My goal was just to go as hard as I could and have the best race possible,” she told the Star yesterday. “It’s nice when I’m able to race up to my ability. That’s what I am very happy about.”

Emily was the last women’s starter and was able to compare her split times with her competitors during her race. She finished in 32:32.1.

“I went out hard,” she said. “I knew where I was compared to my competitors. I had a good start, got a lead after the first lap and I was able to extend it by the end.

“I feel like I’m stronger than I was actually able to ski today, but to ski as well as I could of on any given day is really special,” she said. “On Sunday, I’m going to go out and try to win again. That’s my goal – just ski as well as I can and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Graham will face a much more difficult task in the men’s 30-km skiathlon Sunday.

“He had a tough day today, so that was definitely hard,” Emily explained. “But we know that he’s stronger than that, so we’re looking forward to what he can do this weekend.”

Yukon ski coach Alain Masson is in Canmore for the Olympic trials. He said Emily’s race was something special to watch.

“It was very exciting to see her race this well,” Masson said. “She was able to put everything together in what was probably one of her best performances ever. It was satisfying because Graham had raced earlier, and did not race well. It was nice to see Emily put it together.”

Masson said Graham woke up fatigued yesterday morning. He finished more than one minute behind men’s winner Brian McKeever.

“He wasn’t feeling very good and you can’t afford to do that on a course like this,” the coach explained. “You knew right from the start that it wasn’t going to be a good day for Graham.”

The elder Nishikawa will need to put together the race of his life on Sunday in order to have a shot at his Olympic dream.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” said Masson. “And it’s going to be a mass start, so it’s a difficult thing to do.”

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