Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for December 17, 2012

Nishikawa siblings make their mark at World Cup

It was a day to remember for the Nishikawa household.

By Whitehorse Star on December 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm

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STRONG SHOWING – Graham Nishikawa (above left) and Emily Nishikawa (above right, centre) did Whitehorse proud yesterday in a World Cup skiathlon race in Canmore, Alta. Both siblings finished with personal bests. Graham finished 15th and Emily 34th. Photos by BOB NISHIKAWA

It was a day to remember for the Nishikawa household.

Whitehorse athletes Graham and Emily Nishikawa skied to their best World Cup results in their careers Sunday afternoon in Canmore, Alta.

The siblings were among the top Canadian finishers in their World Cup skiathlon races – Graham cracking the top-15 and Emily the top-40.

Graham Nishikawa had the race of his life, finishing 15th in the 30 kilometre skiathlon with a time of 1:18:09.6. His pace put him just 22 seconds behind French skier Maurice Manificat, who outsprinted the field to take the overall win.

The 28-year-old Nishikawa is a fourth-year member of the national development team.

He hung in with the lead pack as attack after attack was put into the field by the leaders on the Canmore hills, and gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about on a glorious Sunday afternoon at the Canmore Nordic Centre while skiing into the top-15.

“I didn’t know how long I’d last,” Nishikawa said post-race. “My goal was just to stay with them as long as possible. When I hit the last lap I realized I only had 3.5 kilometres to go so I put my head down and tried to stay in contact. I knew I had it in me, but just so happy to do it at home.”

The men’s skiathlon combined 15 kilometres of classic technique racing and, following an equipment change, 15 kilometres of skate racing.

Two-time Olympian Ivan Babikov was the top Canadian in 12th place.

The scrappy 32-year-old Canmore native carried the nation’s flag into the men’s skiathlon where he finished with a time of 1:17:55.0.

Like her brother, Emily Nishikawa also had her best World Cup result while leading two Canadians into the top-40 in the women’s 15-kilometre skiathlon.

The 23-year-old second-year senior development team athlete finished as the top Canadian in 34th spot after posting a time of 46:30.7.

“Those girls go fast,” she said. “I wasn’t able to keep the pace off the start, but I stayed in my rhythm and picked a few off in the skate.

“This is a great race for me and I’m thrilled. It is close to my first goal of getting into the top 30s. It is a good start and I hope to build on this.”

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk won the women’s race in a quick 42:51.5.

Daria Gaiazova, of Banff, Alta., finished on the heels of Nishikawa in 37th spot at 46:33.4 and was the only other Canadian to finish in the top-40.

The Nishikawas were two of six Yukoners competing in the World Cup skiathlon this weekend in Canmore.

In her debut skiathlon, 18-year-old junior skier Dahria Beatty finished 54th overall.

David Greer, 23, came in 51st in the skiathlon, while fellow Yukon Elite Squad members Knute Johnsgaard and John Parry finished 56th and 61st, respectively.

Both Beatty and Greer were 7:22 off the leader’s pace.

Johnsgaard and Parry were last-minute additions to the field after several Canadian team qualifiers decided to sit out the race.

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