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WORLD RACERS – Dahria Beatty, seen here in a file pho to from the 2016 Haywood Ski Nationals, is one of three Whitehorse skiers on the Canadian national team.

Three Yukon skiers compete in World Cup

Three members of the Canadian cross-country ski team hail out of Whitehorse

By Dustin Cook on December 1, 2017

Three members of the Canadian cross-country ski team hail out of Whitehorse and are representing Cross Country Yukon on the world stage as the Cross-Country World Cup kicked off Nov. 24-26 in Finland.

Dahria Beatty, Emily Nishikawa and Knute Johnsgaard all skied out of the Whitehorse Cross Country Club and for Team Yukon growing up.

“Growing up in Whitehorse and getting the opportunity to be on the Yukon Ski Team was amazing for me,” seven-year senior national team member Nishikawa said via email from Norway as the team prepares for their second world cup race this weekend. “It is where my love of the sport really developed and I was able to have so many opportunities to grow as a ski racer.”

Nishikawa competed in three races at the first World Cup event last weekend and said it was an up-and-down affair.

“It is fairly typical for this time of year to be lacking in consistency, but with every race I do my form gets better and better,” she said. “So I’m looking to build off these first few weekends and looking for better results at the end of December.”

In the first race of the weekend, Nishikawa placed 74th in the sprint classic – the second Canadian behind Whitehorse teammate Beatty.

Beatty, 23, finished in 64th spot in the race, but did not complete the entire three-race competition. She placed 84th in the 10-kilometre classic, and didn’t finish the 10-kilometre pursuit.

“I did not have a very good weekend,” Beatty said via email citing breathing issues that kept her from racing up to her full potential. “I had some issues keeping my airways clear and breathing properly and struggled to find my normal race feeling. I have been working this week to figure out this problem and am hoping it will be solved for the coming races.”

The team is now in Lillehammer, Norway preparing for the second World Cup weekend, this time with only two races – the sprint classic race and the 7.5-kilometre skiathlon.

“The World Cup tour goes to Davos, Switzerland and Toblach, Italy after that before we pause for a break over Christmas,” Beatty said.

With the Olympics around the corner in February, both Beatty and Nishikawa said they have met the criteria to qualify, but the team will officially be announced at the end of December.

This would be the second Olympic Games for Nishikawa who competed for Canada in Sochi, Russia finishing 42nd in the skiathlon and helped the women’s relay team to a 14th place finish.

And it was the training in Whitehorse led by head coach Alain Masson that helped them get to this point.

“Alain Masson and Cross Country Yukon have developed an incredible program – one that I am lucky to have been a part of and I am so proud of. The entire ski community is incredibly supportive and not to mention we have a great facility and winter conditions in Whitehorse to add to the success of the program,” Nishikawa said.

Beatty echoed the sentiment that Masson’s program continues to produce high-level talent including about one-third of the Canadian cross-country ski team.

“The Yukon Ski Team is an amazing program. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. Being surround by friends and teammates and a well-structured development program made ski training fun and gave me the foundation I needed to move forward in the sport,” Beatty said.

In the overall standings from Finland, Nishikawa placed 69th out of 78 finishers in the three-race total ahead of the other Canadian finisher Cendrine Browne who placed 72nd.

Nishikawa noted the 10-kilometre classic race as her highlight of the weekend skiing behind Charlotte Kalla from Sweden, who placed second in the race and first overall.

“It was a great chance to match her stride and learn from her and see what I need to work on in my skiing. So, I had a great first lap of the race where I was able to match her pace, but then faded a bit in the last lap,” she said.

On the men’s side, Johnsgaard finished in 81st place overall, the fifth of six Canadians with Quebec racer Alex Harvey placing in fourth spot, less than one second off the podium.

The team is now in Norway with two days of racing starting Friday with the sprint classic.

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