When Whitehorse Olympian Dahria Beatty was asked to recall that special moment in her career so far, it was no surprise she spoke of representing Canada in PyeongChang.
But it just wasn’t representing Canada on the largest stage in the world, it wasn’t just about representing her country.
It was about representing her community, her hometown, the local ski club that fostered her development in the sport of cross country skiing since she joined the Jackrabbits program at the age of three.
Beatty emphasizes that three of the 14 Canadian cross country skiers in South Korea last February were from Whitehorse.
“I mean for a town of 27,000 to have three of the 14 athletes from the Yukon, I think that is quite an incredible feat,” says the 24-year-old who was honoured at a special celebration Tuesday evening. “And I do not think that would be possible without having a great community ... and the amazing leadership Alain Masson has created with the Yukon Ski team.”
Beatty says when she teamed up with fellow Whitehorse Olympian Emilie Nishikawa to ski for Canada in the team event, it was extra special.
“I felt I was racing for more than just Canada, for where the racing really began for me, my home....”
Beatty’s name was added Tuesday to the names of distinguished athletes that line the Olympic Trail, part of the network of trails managed by the Whitehorse Cross Country Club.
Two-time Olympian, Nishikawa’s name is already there, as is her brother’s, Graham Nishikawa, who was in PyeongChang for his second Paralympics as a cross country ski guide for celebrated gold medalist Brian McKeever who is visually impaired.
Along with Beatty and Emilie Nishikawa, Whitehorse Olympian Knute Johnsgaard was the third local skier in PyeongChang for the Olympics. Both Beatty and Johnsgaard were not available this week, so a date for Johnsgaard’s induction onto the Olympic Trail is still to be scheduled.
Beatty remembers when she was bitten by the bug to become a competitive skier.
It was back when she was just nine years old and was successful in her bid to represent the Yukon at the Arctic Winter Games team in Fort McMurray, Alta.
“At that point I decided that was something I really wanted to do,” she says. “And I decided I wanted to become an Olympian.”
Beatty has her eyes set on racing for her country and community in Beijing at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Her longtime coach, Alain Masson, is convinced she’ll be there.
It was Masson who spoke on behalf of the ski club at Tuesday’s celebration. He recalled the determination of a young skier under his guidance as a member of the Yukon Ski Team from the age of 12 until she left for the national training centre when she was 18.
He recalled Beatty’s first national gold medal, a decisive victory at the age of 14 in the five-kilometre classic race.
She would continue with her national and international success as a junior and then as a senior, culminating in her participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Himself a three-time Olympian in his younger days as an athlete from Quebec, Masson describes some of the characteristics of an Olympic athlete: determination, drive, self confidence, a positive attitude....
“She has all of those,” Masson says in an interview. “And she demonstrated them right from the start when she was young.
“She always stood out as a very determined, self-confident individual.”
As the coach of the Yukon Ski Team, Masson has returned to the Winter Olympics several times as a technician to serve on the national team’s waxing crew.
His name is among the distinguished on the Olympic Trail.
Many names have been added since the practice of recognizing the elite and dedicated began in the mid-nineties to celebrate the participation of local Olympians Lucy Steele-Masson and Jane Vincent in the 1992 Albertville Games in France.
Beatty knows all the names. She’s been skiing past them since she was a kid.
“So after representing Canada this year, I knew I would be able to get my name up on the Olympic Trail with all of my role models,” she says.
“It has been something I have dreamed about for a very long time. So it was very cool to see my name on the Olympic Trail with so many from the community there, so many of my teachers, sponsors, friends.
“It was awesome, and very heartwarming.”