WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Dahria Beatty and Alex Harvey will etch their names in the history books as champions of the 10- and 15-kilometre freestyle individual starts at the 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals.
Beatty, who finished second to fellow Whitehorse resident Emily Nishikawa in Sunday’s 5 k classic, was determined to take down the veteran in Tuesday’s 10 k skate race. The 22-year-old Beatty hammered the pace in her three trips around the 3.3 k track to clock a winning time of 26:08.1 under ideal race conditions.
“I started second today so I went out hard and fed off the amazing cheering by so many people out here,” said Beatty, a member of the Alberta World Cup Academy and national U23 development team. “Emily was starting her first lap when I was completing my final lap so I was getting splits on her. Today was really about who could suffer the most. I just left everything out there on that last lap and suffered as much as I could and it paid off.”
Nishikawa, a senior national team member who was the lone Canadian woman to race the entire year on the World Cup, laid it all out there but couldn’t muster the fuel to overcome Beatty. Nishikawa, who won the first two women’s races on the weekend, took second, 6.2 seconds back.
“I put out another good fight, but Dahria was really strong so I’m really proud of her. It is really exciting and great to see Whitehorse athletes going one-two again so I couldn’t be happier today,” said Nishikawa, who took advantage of a day off on Monday to make a visit to her elementary school – Selkirk Elementary.
“It was super cool to get back to talk to the kids about skiing. I think it is inspiring for both of us and I thought it was really cool they are all in ski programs at school.”
Katherine Stewart-Jones, of the Thunder Bay National Development Centre (NDC), and originally from Gatineau, Quebec, skied to her second-straight bronze medal of the week, 44.1 seconds out of first.
Stewart-Jones held off her fellow U23 development team member Cendrine Browne (Pierre Harvey National Training Centre/NST) for the second-straight race as well, as Browne took fourth, 3.3 seconds behind her on Tuesday.
Alex Harvey, of the Canadian World Cup Team and Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Quebec, has been putting on a show for Canada’s next generation of elite skiers. Taking advantage of being in Canada this spring to compete at Nationals, Harvey skied to his second consecutive national title – this time in the men’s 15 k freestyle.
Harvey, who dominated Sunday’s classic interval start, was in tough company Tuesday while battling it out with two of his World Cup teammates – Ivan Babikov and Graeme Killick.
When the dust finally settled after the top men’s skiers on the country completed four laps around the 3.75 k loop, it was the 27-year-old Harvey finished on top with a winning time of 32:36.5.
“Of course we are all a little tired being at the end of the season, but I think it is really important for us National Team skiers to come to the Nationals when the schedule allows it,” said Harvey, who had two World Cup podium performances this year.
“I think giving the up and coming skiers the opportunity to race against us, shows them the speed and technique they need to be successful internationally. I remember being a junior and juvenile and wanting to compare myself in real life to the top Canadian guys.”
Babikov, of Canmore, Alberta, continued his successful spring with a silver medal, finishing 17.8 seconds behind Harvey. For Babikov, who had two top-10 World Cup stage results at the Ski Tour Canada (STC) earlier this month, it was the second podium of the week. The cagey veteran celebrated a gold medal in the team sprint with Jesse Cockney in the opening event of the national championships.
Killick, a senior development team member who also turned in career-best finishes at the STC, climbed onto the podium for the first time this week at Nationals. Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alberta, earned bronze, 57.6 second behind Harvey.
Freestyle sprints are set for Wednesday, followed by the 30/50 k classic mass starts on Saturday.