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Sports archive for February 18, 2014

Yukon XC skiers race to medal wins in Latvia

Yukon cross-country skiers Knute Johnsgaard and Dahria Beatty are continuing to turn heads on the European ski circuit.

By Marcel Vander Wier on February 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

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Photo submitted

YUKON TRIO – Knute Johnsgaard, Pavlina Sudrich, an assistant coach on the B Tour, and Dahria Beatty pose for a photograph at the Latvian National Championships. Both Johnsgaard and Beatty have won medals this week. Photo courtesy CROSS COUNTRY CANADA

Yukon cross-country skiers Knute Johnsgaard and Dahria Beatty are continuing to turn heads on the European ski circuit.

While the world watches the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the next generation of Canadian athletes are racing a B Tour in the Baltic countries.

Many, like Johnsgaard and Beatty, made the trip directly from the Under-23 and World Junior Championships held recently in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Beatty, a 19-year-old from Whitehorse, won the open women’s five-km interval start classic race on Sunday. She finished first out of 20 skiers, in a time of 15:17.11.

“This 5-km at Latvian nationals was my first open women’s victory of my career, which is an exciting milestone for me,” she said in an email to the Star.

A lack of snow in Latvia meant the race was held on a 2.5-km man-made loop, Beatty explained.

“The course had lots of climbing, which is my favourite in classic races,” she added.

Beatty is skiing with CNEPH, a Quebec-based training centre. Tomorrow, she will race in a skate sprint, before competing in a 10-km freestyle event on Thursday.

“I am just really happy to be getting in more racing overseas,” she said. “This coming weekend I will be racing in another Scandinavia Cup in Otepää, Estonia, before returning to Canada.”

Johnsgaard, a 21-year-old Yukoner, finished third in the 10-km classic race Saturday with a time of 28:10.14 (49 seconds back of the victor) and second in the 10-km skate on Sunday in 25:23.18 (42 seconds back).

“I’ve been having a pretty good run here in Latvia,” he admitted.

Johnsgaard said the conditions in Europe are surprisingly poor.

“There’s no snow in Latvia, only a 2.5-km man-made loop, so the conditions aren’t great,” he said via email. “The conditions are always so perfect back home, that I’m not used to skiing on ice and slush and in rain.

“It seems like I’m starting to get used to it now.”

Like Beatty, Johnsgaard will head to Otepää for two more races this weekend.

The trip to Latvia hasn’t been all about skiing, he said. On Monday, the team explored a castle of Ivan the Terrible, a 14th century Russian tyrant.

Hut to Hut replaces Northwestel loppet

Closer to home, the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club is set to host their premier event of the season, the Northwestel Hut to Hut on March 1.

The Hut to Hut is a social event that replaces the Northwestel Yukon Loppet as the club’s main recreational event. The goal is to encourage skiers of all ages and ability to participate and to discover some new trails and the three trail huts.

The trail huts will be heated and hosted with snacks, drinks and special treats.

Snowshoers will also be welcome to participate. The event will begin at 11 a.m. in front of the Ski Chalet/Waxroom, though skiers can start at any time. Skiers must finish between 2 and 3 p.m. to be entered into the draw.

Along the trail there will be various fun activities provided by Northwestel, including ‘hidden’ employees along the trail to giving out prizes.

The huts are being hosted by Coast Mountain Sports, the ski club board, and the Steele family. Duncan’s Limited is also a hut sponsor.

Lunch will be sponsored by Alpine Bakery. At the finish area, skiers and snowshoers can participate in various activities. The finish area will feature music, beer garden, and a celebrity snowshoe event.

Mayor Dan Curtis has accepted the challenge to snowshoe a 200-m course and would like to have some company.

The celebrity snowshoe event is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

All Hut to Hut participants will have a chance to win an iPad Mini, ski club memberships, spring passes and other small prizes. 

The decision to discontinue the Northwestel Loppet was difficult but the change may be a good one. 

There are several competitive events in February and March including the very popular Buckwheat and Marsh Lake Loppets.

The ski club decided to try something different by offering the non-competitive event.

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