Whitehorse Daily Star

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EYES ON THE OLYMPICS – Dahria Beatty leads a pack in the women’s skiathlon race Monday. She won the bronze. Photo by MARIO WALKER

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THIRD WORLD’S – Natalie Hynes, centre, poses with the other podium finishers after winning the skiathlon race. Photo by MARTINE GRENON-LAFONTAINE

Hynes qualifies for third straight junior team

It wasn’t just a reunion for Whitehorse skiers who have since left the territory to pursue skiing at the highest level,

By Dustin Cook on January 10, 2018

It wasn’t just a reunion for Whitehorse skiers who have since left the territory to pursue skiing at the highest level, but also a demonstration of the high-level talent being produced out of Cross Country Yukon.

All encompassed into one grand event, the 2018 NorAm Haywood Selections and Trials in Quebec are determining who will qualify for Canada’s world junior, Under-23 and Olympic teams through multiple races that started Saturday and culminating today.

Three Yukon skiers participated in the junior trials with Amanda Thomson joining Natalie Hynes and Hannah Deuling who were away for school. Yukon head coach Alain Masson also made the trip down for the competition to see all his top skiers race in one spot.

Hynes, who has previously qualified for the last two world junior teams, was looking for her third straight qualification in her final year of eligibility. She didn’t have to wait long, winning the first race of the competition Monday in the 10-kilometre skiathlon.

With three qualification races, the winner of each race automatically qualifies for the team, Masson said, and the teams would be made up of four male and female competitors with the final spots based on overall performances in all three races. In one of her stronger distances, Hynes didn’t wait to make Yukon history by winning the skiathlon and qualifying for her third straight Canadian junior team to represent on the world stage.

Masson said he is unaware if a Yukon skier has qualified for three consecutive teams and if so, it pre-dates his involvement with the team.

“It could be the first time ever that we have had a Yukoner qualify three consecutive times for a world juniors,” he said.

“She was very excited, her training and racing season thus far has not been going very well.

“She has had health issues and it was amazing that she was able to get this kind of result in the first race and to qualify.”

The other two competitors in the junior category finished towards the front in the first distance was as well with Deuling finishing in 10th spot followed by Thomson in 12th position.

For this year’s world juniors, Hynes will be off to Switzerland at the end of the month. But before then, Masson said Hynes will first compete for her school, the University of Alaska Anchorage at the Utah Invitational before crossing the ocean to prepare for the World Junior competition.Hynes is following in the footsteps of her fellow Yukon teammates on the road to international competition, with four athletes poised for Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Having already met the selection criteria for the Olympics last year, it is all but made official that Dahria Beatty will be representing Canada at her first Olympic Games. She decided to compete in the races at home finishing in top spot in the classic and skate sprint races.

On the senior men’s side, Knute Johnsgaard won the skiathlon race with fellow Whitehorse skier Graham Nishikawa finishing right behind in second place. Nishikawa will also be heading to South Korea for the Paralymic Games as a guide for skier Brian McKeever.

Graham’s sister Emily has also met the criteria for the Olympics and is expected to be named to the team for her second Games. She opted out of competing in Canada and staying on the tour de ski circuit in Europe.

And that leaves the fourth Yukon hopeful Knute Johnsgaard, who Masson said has a good chance of nomination for the team, but it is dependent on how many male skiers are allowed to be named to the Canadian team. He has also met the nomination criteria, but Masson said he currently stands as the fifth Canadian male.

The final date for Olympic nomination in all sports is Jan. 25.

“For Knute and Dahria they know their chance of nomination is very good as well as Emily,” Masson said. “They’re obviously very excited. It’s the highlight of most amateur athletes.”

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