Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for February 19, 2014

Nishikawa excelling in Olympic races

Despite battling an illness, Yukoner Emily Nishikawa is having the time of her life at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

By Marcel Vander Wier on February 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

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Photo submitted

Star file photo THRILLING EXPERIENCE – Whitehorse cross-country skier Emily Nishikawa races in the 4x5-km relay Saturday at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The 24-year-old finished her leg in 13:27.3, the quickest on the team. Photo courtesy BOB NISHIKAWA

Despite battling an illness, Yukoner Emily Nishikawa is having the time of her life at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The 24-year-old cross-country skier from Whitehorse has competed in two races so far, with her longest and last race looming Saturday. Nishikawa’s final ski will be the 30-km women’s mass start free.

However, Nishikawa missed the 10-km – her best race – when she came down with a cold.

Today, she cheered on the Canadian ski team competing in the team sprints event.

The women’s team finished in 11th place.

“I’m having an amazing time at the Olympics,” Nishikawa told the Star via email. “I have felt the enormous support and encouragement from everyone in the Yukon. It is pretty amazing, and making my whole Olympic experience so special.

“Thanks to everyone.”

Nishikawa opened her Olympics Feb. 8 with a 42nd place finish in the ladies 15-km skiathlon. The race featured 7.5 km of classic technique followed by 7.5 km of skate skiing.

Nishikawa was the first Canadian to finish in a time of 43:04.7, ahead of teammates Brittany Webster, 51st, and Amanda Ammar, 55th.

Nishikawa was three and a half minutes back of the gold medal winner from Norway.

“I was thrilled with my first race, the pursuit,” Nishikawa said. “It was an incredible feeling starting my first Olympic race. I had a great race, so I am very happy with that.”

Shortly after her first race, the Yukon skier came down with a cold, causing her to miss her next race – the 10 km.

Nishikawa told the Star she has since recovered.

In Saturday’s 4x5-km relay, the Whitehorse skier put together the fastest leg for Canada, who finished last in 14th.

Nishikawa skied the third leg in 13:27.3.

Perianne Jones completed the first leg in 15:50.9, Daria Gaiazova skied the second leg in 15:09.5 and anchor Webster raced the final leg in 14:45.9.

“I was honoured to be on the relay team,” Nishikawa said. “It was a really fun event, and I didn’t feel 100 per cent, but I was still happy with the way I skied.”

Much of the races have been held in temperatures above freezing, which has caused plenty of trouble in terms of waxing (see related story).

Yukon ski coach Alain Masson has been impressed by his former pupil’s Olympics, calling her skiathlon race the top international race of her career.

“I think the first race Emily did in the skiathlon was very good,” he said via email. “It was her best international race so far.

“Unfortunately, after she got sick, her performances suffered in the relay, where she skied well for the first lap of her race, but faded in the second half,” Masson offered.

“Hopefully, she will be fully recovered for the 30 km on Saturday.”

Supporters of Nishikawa will once again gather at the local ski club at 6 p.m. Saturday to watch a replay of her final performance.

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