As the tail end of the competitive cross country ski season approaches, seasoned skiers from the Yukon are ramping up.
In Utah at the World Junior Championships last week, national team members Natalie Hynes and Dahria Beattie were again demonstrating prowess.
And in Cantley, Que., last weekend at the Eastern Canadian Championships, even the youngest of the 15 Yukon skiers impressed as they prepare for the national championships in Canmore, Alta., next month.
Head coach Alain Masson of the Yukon Ski Team said this week Beattie continued in Utah to demonstrate why there’s a good chance she’ll be representing Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
In the under-23 category, Beattie placed 12th in the 1.3-kilometre sprint, 16th in the 10-kilometre skate race and 19th in the 15-kilometre skiathlon – 7.5 kilometres classic, 7.5 kilometre skate.
“She is basically the best woman skier for all of Canada,” Masson said. “Dahria has a very good chance of going to the Olympics next year.”
Beattie is heading off to the world championships in Finland later this month, were she’ll meet up with fellow Yukoners and national team members Emily Nishikawa and Knute Johnsgaard.
Among the criteria to qualify for the Olympics is two, top-30 in finishes in world cup races. Beattie posted two before Christmas.
The head coach said Hynes also had a strong showing at the junior worlds in Utah, with her best finish, 28th, coming in the 10-kilometre skiathlon.
“For Natalie, this is really, really good,” said Masson. “It was the first time she did this well. She has made a big improvement.”
Masson said Beattie, Hynes Johnsgaard and Nishikawa will be in Canmore for the nationals, along with 10-plus skiers who were at last weekend’s eastern championships in Quebec.
There were several highlights last weekend, with several top performances, not the least of which came from Derek Deuling, the coach pointed out.
Masson said at 14 years old it was the first time for Deuling at such an event, having qualified for the Yukon Ski Team just last spring. But he came away with third- and fifth-place finishes.
It’s nice to see all the young athletes ski so well, and to see the first-time skiers at that level be so competitive,” he said.
“We use this for the national championships, which take place in March,” Masson pointed out. “It is always a nice test for us to see what we have to work on.”