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POWER FORWARD – Whitehorse cross-country skier Emily NIshikawa races into the stadium just ahead of Sweden’s Anna Haag during the Olympic women’s 30-km classic race. Photo by BOB NISHIKAWA

Nishikawa finishes 30th in final race of Olympics

It was the veteran Olympian who was the top Canadian finisher in the final women’s cross-country race of the 2018 Winter Games.

By Dustin Cook on February 26, 2018

It was the veteran Olympian who was the top Canadian finisher in the final women’s cross-country race of the 2018 Winter Games.

Yukoner Emily Nishikawa, in her second Games, finished in 30th spot in the 30-kilometre classic.

The result was one of Canada’s best distance race results on the women’s side since the 2002 Olympic Games.

Finishing in a time of 1:34:31.7, the top 30 finish was the best individual Olympic finish for Nishikawa who almost cracked the threshold earlier in these Games, placing 32nd in the 10-kilometre free.

The other Canadian finisher, Cendrine Brown, finished 43rd of 45 competitors. Anne-Marie Comeau didn’t finish the race. Whitehorse Olympic rookie Dahria Beatty didn’t compete in the long-distance race which is not her speciality.

Beatty’s first Olympics ended by racing with Nishikawa representing the Yukon and Canada in the team sprint event where they placed 12th of 21 teams. Knute Johnsgaard, Whitehorse’s male representative on the Canadian ski team, didn’t compete in the 50-kilometre classic – the final men’s race of the Games.

With seven athletes and only four Canadian spots in each race, the young Olympic rookie didn’t compete in two individual races. His last race was the relay where he anchored the team in the final free leg to a ninth place finish.

Nishikawa started out strong from the beginning in the long-distance classic race, one of her main strengths heading into the Games. She was in the middle of the pack sitting in 28th spot through the first 10 kilometres of the race. In a close finish, Nishikawa finished less than a second back of Swedish veteran Anna Haag and more than a minute ahead of the next closest competitor.

The Olympics may be over, but Yukon representation on the world stage is not.

The Canadian team of 55 athletes was announced today for the Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. Emily’s older brother Graham Nishikawa will return to his second Paralymic Games as a guide for skier Brian McKeever.

The first event for McKeever in Pyeongchang will be the 20-kilometre free race on March 12. He will then compete in the sprint class on March 14, the 10-kilometre classic on March 17 and the relays March 18.

Nishikawa will be the main guide for the decorated skier but he will also be joined by guide Russell Kennedy who could share the race duties.

Nishikawa and McKeever won gold together in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in the one-kilometre sprint when Nishikawa was the backup guide for the skier. McKeever also won the 10-km and 20-km races, sweeping the podium in the individual races.

He has won a total of 10 gold medals in cross-country skiing. The Paralympic Games take centre stage March 9 and run until March 18.

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