The nine Whitehorse skiers who travelled to Canmore, Alta., to compete in the first Alberta Cup, with the Yukon Ski Team over the weekend have returned home. The team was also joined by other Yukon skiers who competed in the weekend races with their respective teams.
In excess of 500 skiers participated in the weekend’s races which opened the racing season in Canada. The weekend featured two types of races, a skate, where the skiers leave at intervals and a classic race when the skiers begin all at once.
Yukon Ski Team head coach Alain Masson says the race was a great way to begin the competitive season.
“Overall, it was a great start of the season for the Yukon skiers with a great opportunity to test their fitness and technique in a large field of skiers from Western Canada and beyond,” said Masson.
The Whitehorse racers competed up a category to better prepare them for the upcoming Canada Winter Games, which will be held in Lethbridge, Alta.
“Our Whitehorse based junior skiers were racing up a category as it was the start of the selection process for the Canada Winter Games,” said Masson. “Alberta skiers did the same as the event was also used by Team Alberta as a selection process.
“At the Canada Winter Games, the reality is they will compete against older skiers. So we wanted to get them used to longer distances and faster competition.”
The nine Whitehorse skiers were: Dahlia Lapointe, Sonjaa Schmidt, Derek Deuling, Victor-Emile Thibault, Sasha Masson, Ben Puskas, Nichollis Schmidt, Romeo Champagne, and Jamie Phillips-Freedman.
In the 5-kilometre junior women’s skate race Schmidt finished 15th and Lapointe finished 23rd. In the 9-kilomtre men’s skate race, Dueling placed 5th, Sasha Masson finished 13th, Thibeault 23rd and Champagne and Freedman 31st and 32 respectively.
In the classic race, the junior women raced 8 1/2-kilomtres. Schmidt came in 15th while Lapointe placed 20th.
The men’s classic race was 11-kilomtres. Deuling finished the race in 4th, Sasha Masson came in 14th, Thibeault 21st, Champagne 23rd, Freedman 24th and Schmidt 26th.
The races were held on a short loop, with machine made-snow, that the racers looped multiple times, similar to what the skiers in Whitehorse have done to train the past few weeks.
“This format is exciting for the athletes as it provides ample opportunities to ski with faster skiers during the races,” said Masson. “It is also great for the coaches and the spectators to see the skiers multiple times during the races.”
Up next for the skiers will be a race held at the Whitehorse Ski Club. The results of this race will finalize the selection process for those chosen for the next trip to Whistler.
The Alberta Cup also featured Dahria Beatty from Whitehorse. She represented the World Cup Academy based in Canmore. She came in first in both the skate and the classic races in the women’s open category.