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Sports archive for January 27, 2014

Yukon Olympian gets rousing sendoff

Note by note, a banner supporting Whitehorse Olympian Emily Nishikawa quickly filled up with messages of good luck and best wishes Sunday morning.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

BEST WISHES – From left, Kyan Morrison, Joe Morrison, Janine Privett and Taryn Morrison sign a banner of support for Emily Nishikawa Sunday morning at the ski club. Nishikawa’s parents will be bringing the banner to Sochi.

Note by note, a banner supporting Whitehorse Olympian Emily Nishikawa quickly filled up with messages of good luck and best wishes Sunday morning.

Nishikawa’s fans and supporters poured into the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club to sign the banner emblazoned with the words “Go Emily Nish!”

While the 24-year-old couldn’t make the sendoff hosted by the ski club in person, a life-size cardboard cutout of the cross-country skier smiled over the proceedings.

Nishikawa, who is currently in Europe preparing for the 2014 Winter Games, said she is overwhelmed by the support of the territory.

“It’s hard to put into words how much this means to me,” she said in an email to the Star.

“I’m totally blown away by the support of the community. It is really incredible. I’m feeling so lucky to have grown up in the Yukon with such amazing and supportive people.”

Among the crowd of supporters were Nishikawa’s parents, Bob Nishikawa and Joan Stanton, and younger brother, Martin.

The 20-year-old said his sister’s latest sporting accomplishment is an extraordinary one.

“It’s really incredible,” he said. “We’re really happy for her. She seems to be taking it really well. It’s a little overwhelming for her, I’m assuming, but she really seems to be going along with the momentum.”

Martin said ever since his older brother Graham left Whitehorse to train in the sport full-time more than 10 years ago, the family has wondered if this day would be in their future.

“I’ve always assumed they were going places,” Martin said.

Eventually, Emily would follow in Graham’s footsteps, following up her high school graduation with full-time training at the Callaghan Valley Training Centre in southern B.C.

Later, she would take up training at the Alberta World Cup Academy in Canmore, Alta.

Former ski club executive director Claude Chabot said he has known Emily for a long time.

“I always figured she would make Olympics,” he told the Star. “She’s just got the drive and she’s been working at it for such a long time.”

Her strength also stood out to Chabot, who said he recalls the days when Emily was completing more pull-ups then her male ski counterparts as a young teenager on the Yukon Ski Team’s Blue Squad.

“They used to call her the dip queen,” Chabot added. “As part of their summer strength training, they would do dips (a tricep exercise where the athlete lifts their body weight while positioned vertically between parallel bars). And she could do more than anybody. She could just sit there and go forever. Incredibly strong. She’s just got everything she needs.”

Chabot said having a Yukon skier competing against the best in the world is an outstanding feat.

“A hundred female skiers are going to be at the Olympics,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what she does at that point. She’s the elite of the elite.

“This is a massive accomplishment for anybody. It’s an inspiration. It shows that a little kid from the Yukon can do it.”

Those who missed yesterday’s event at the ski club can show their support for the Yukon’s homegrown Olympian by sending encouragement online via http://www.facebook.com/messagestoemily, a Facebook page set up by the ski club.

Emily’s parents, Joan Stanton and Bob Nishikawa, will travel to Sochi with the autographed banner to cheer on their daughter.

Bob said the community support the family has felt since the announcement has been overwhelming.

“Everybody we run into is so proud of Emily and congratulating us,” he said. “And of course a lot of people have had a hand in Emily’s development ... it’s just a whole community thing.
“We had no idea she would go this far,” Bob admitted. “We knew she had talent and we just encouraged her to go as far as she could and take it one step at a time. To make this jump is just incredible.”

By MARCEL VANDER WIER
Star Sports Editor

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