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Beatty, Harvey Golden Again with Skate Sprint Wins in Whitehorse

Alex Harvey (r) after edging Lenny Valjas and Julien Locke for the men's freestyle sprint title on Wednesday at Canadian Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. Valjas placed second and Locke was third. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

Alex Harvey (r) after edging Lenny Valjas and Julien Locke for the men’s freestyle sprint title on Wednesday at Canadian Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. Valjas placed second and Locke was third. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

(Press release)

WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Dahria Beatty and Alex Harvey are on a golden run in Canada’s north. Beatty captured her second straight victory, while Harvey completed the golden hat trick on Wednesday in the 1.2-kilometre freestyle sprints at Canadian Ski Nationals in Whitehorse.

Mentally and physically exhausted following a long competitive season that culminated with the punishing eight-race Ski Tour Canada (STC), the 22-year-old Beatty has somehow discovered another gear to win back-to-back gold medals at the national cross-country skiing championships. She took down the nation’s best women on Wednesday on the two-lap sprint course she grew up on in her hometown.

“I felt so tired in the qualifier this morning and struggled to put everything forward, but I just kept getting better as the day went on,” said Beatty, who posted her first victory in Tuesday’s 10 k freestyle race, and also had a silver medal on the weekend. “I’m thrilled to have another victory at home. There were so many school kids out today cheering us on, and the support has been great here in Whitehorse.”

Beatty, part of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and national U23 development teams, lined up against six of Canada’s top female sprinters in the head-to-head women’s final for two laps around the 600-metre course which features one large climb, tight corners and a downhill into the stadium that leads to the uphill finish.

A notoriously slow starter in skate sprints, Beatty was third in the opening lap behind Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (National Senior Development Team) and Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers). The pack of six stuck together on the first climb, but it was the second climb where Beatty and Bouffard-Nesbitt made an attack on the group. Beatty jumped ahead in the final downhill and never looked back, skate sprinting to the finish line.

Bouffard-Nesbitt claimed the silver, while MacIsaac-Jones, who had a top-30 finish of her own at the STC, was third.

With the next generation of Canada’s elite cross-country skiers on full display on home snow over the last three weeks, Beatty and others are starting to make a claim they are ready to make the giant leap to the next level of racing. One of a group of young women cranking out personal-best performances at the STC, Beatty shocked the world to qualify for the World Cup classic sprint heats in Canmore, Alberta, where she went on to finish a career-best 15th.

“I think the whole Tour was amazing and definitely a good confidence booster for me,” said an exhausted Beatty. “It showed me that if I put my mind to finding that extra gear inside me, and putting it all out there, that I can produce good results.

Emily [Nishikawa] is a very strong skier, but I think we have a group of girls now ready to join her at the World Cup level. At least we are certainly ready to try. I think it is time we have a real women’s team over in Europe which is definitely going to make us stronger together if we continue to push each other.”

Nishikawa, a 2014 Olympian who also hails from Whitehorse, captured the first two victories of the week at the premiere domestic racing festival. A distance racer by trade, Nishikawa was the lone woman representing Canada full time on the World Cup this year. At home in Wednesday’s sprint, she placed 13th.

Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/National Junior Team) leading her junior women's qualifier on Wednesday at 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. She went on to win the junior women's final. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/National Junior Team) leading her junior women’s qualifier on Wednesday at 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. She went on to win the junior women’s final. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

It was a clash of the Canadian titans in the men’s sprint final with many of the top names in the sport rumbling on the skinny skis in the head-to-head heats around the 1.2-kilometre track.

Toronto’s Lenny Valjas was determined to end Harvey’s golden run in Whitehorse. The World Cup teammate met in the final, but in the end, it was Harvey, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., rattling off his third consecutive victory in as many races, winning by 0.19 seconds over Valjas.

“I knew Alex wanted to have good races every day, and was a bit nervous for the sprint, so that gave me motivation to put up the best day I could. I did everything I could to give Alex a run for his money today,” said Valjas. “I just put the pedal down the whole way around and was hoping to get some separation from him. I attacked that first hill, but he did get by me on the last hill. It gave him the lead and I couldn’t get by him again.”

It was Valjas’ second silver medal of the week behind the leader of the men’s national squad. He also finished second behind Harvey in the 15 k classic interval start.

“This has been a very serious week for us and everyone is skiing at a very high level. We are all teammates, but when the gun goes off we are all there fighting hard for the top of the podium,” added Valjas. “Whitehorse, in my opinion, is one of the best places in the country to have Nationals. When the weather is good it is hard to find a better place in Canada, and the volunteers have just put on an amazing event for us.”

Julien Locke, of Nelson, B.C., skied to the bronze medal in men’s sprint action.

Marie Corriveau, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., won the junior women’s sprint. Joey Foster, of Midland, Ont., was the top junior men’s sprinter on the day.

The junior and juvenile boys and girls will hit the start line for their sprint races Thursday. The final elite races are set for Saturday with the 30/50 k classic mass starts.

Complete results | Women | Men

Beatty Dethrones Nishikawa in 10 k Skate; Harvey Rolls to Another Nationals Win

(Press release) 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…

Nishikawa Bests Beatty in Nationals 5 k; Harvey Blasts Men’s 10 k Classic

Note: FasterSkier is seeking photos from Canadian Nationals. Please contact info@fasterskier.com to contribute to our coverage. (Press release) WHITEHORSE — Emily Nishikawa and Alex Harvey climbed onto the top of the women’s and men’s podiums in the classic interval start races on the second day of the Canadian Ski Nationals on Sunday. Building on an opening day team sprint title with Kendra Murray, the 26-year-old leader of Canada’s women’s program did not disappoint the hometown crowd that lined the trails at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club by capturing her second straight national title. A 2014 Olympian, Nishikawa clocked the top time of 14:47.7 in the women’s 5-kilometre race. “It is so fun to be racing on my home course. It was another great race, and I’m super happy to win my second gold medal in my home town. The volunteers are doing an amazing job, and it is a real…

Foothills Men, Whitehorse Women Tally Team Sprint Titles at Canadian Nationals

Note: FasterSkier is seeking photos from Canadian Nationals. Please contact info@fasterskier.com to contribute to our coverage. (Press release) Two veteran squads captured the first titles of the weeklong Canadian Ski Nationals on Saturday in Whitehorse, Yukon. Canmore residents skiing out of Foothills Nordic Ski Club, Jesse Cockney and three-time Olympian Ivan Babikov won the men’s classic-ski team sprint. Hometown girls representing Whitehorse, Emily Nishikawa and Kendra Murray, stormed to the top of the women’s podium. The team sprint races consist of each athlete skiing a 1.4-kilometre loop three times. Athletes tag their teammate between each leg. Cockney and Babikov, who both posted top-10 finishes in the recent Ski Tour Canada, continued their hot streak to end the season. The Olympians got off to a slow start in the final round, but stormed back to take the gold medal in 18:08.44 minutes. “It is awesome to win a gold for Foothills Nordic,” said Cockney. “It…

Kern Pulls Off Two More Podiums at OPA Cup Finals

(Press release) TOBLACH, Italy – A week after placing third in the Alpen Cup freestyle mass start in Arber, Germany, Julia Kern (Stratton Mountain School) led the U.S. team once again, with two podium finishes in the final weekend of racing March 11-13 at OPA Cup Finals in Toblach, Italy. The races kicked off Friday, March 11, with a 2.5 k freestyle prologue for the senior women, two U.S. women finished in the top 25. Erika Flowers (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) finished 22nd overall followed by Liz Guiney (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) in 25th. Becca Rorabaugh (Alaska Pacific University) was the next American, finishing 29th, followed by Heather Mooney in 31st. Switzerland’s Nadine Faehndrich edged Germany’s Elisabeth Schicho for first by just 1.6 seconds, followed by Italy’s Ilaria Debertolis who finished third. Women’s 2.5 k freestyle results Kern, 18, led the U20 women, finishing fifth in a competitive 2.5 k freestyle, just 9.8 seconds out of first, behind Germany’s Katharina Hennig. France’s Delphine Claudel was second and Italy’s Anna Comarella finished third. U20 women’s 2.5 k freestyle The senior men…

Eastern Canadian Championships Attract Nearly 800 in Points Race Before STC

By Gerry Furseth Julien Locke of the Black Jack Ski Team overpowered a tactical freestyle sprint final to win the second NorAm of his career on Friday at the Nakkertok South trails near Ottawa on the opening day of Eastern Canadian Championships. Despite a remarkably low snow year and freezing rain in the preceding week, the organizing committee and volunteers were able to host what is expected to be the largest International Ski Federation (FIS) points event ever held in North America. With 783 athletes registered, it is likely that this will top the current record holder, last year’s NorAm Easterns. This is the last weekend for Ski Tour Canada (STC) selections (except for the NorAm overall leaders) and the pressure is on for the top athletes. “Fast conditions at Nakkertok today,” Locke wrote in an email, “with sugary climbs and icy downhills.” All six male finalists finished within 1.5 seconds of one another in the…

Stowe SuperTour Moved to Craftsbury

After unremitting rain on Wednesday in Stowe, Vt., the U.S. SuperTour races scheduled to take place this weekend, Feb. 6-7, at the Trapp Family Lodge trails have been moved to the 2.5-kilometer race loop at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. “The Stowe Nordic organizers, as well as many of the Stowe volunteers will also be there to help run the races. The C’bury courses are in actually really great shape, considering all the rain we got in NE [Wednesday]!” Amie Smith, high-performance director of the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA), wrote in an email on Thursday. Images of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s race loop may be found at the NENSA Facebook page or the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s Snow Report page. Currently, there are 4 k of groomed trails open. Racing kicks off Saturday with a women’s 5 k freestyle individual start and a men’s 10 k freestyle individual start. Sunday marks the second day of racing with a women’s 10…

Canada Names U23/Junior World Championships and Junior B-Tour Teams

Cross Country Canada named its U23/Junior World Championships and Junior B-Tour teams earlier this week, despite the final day of trials being canceled due to extremely low temperatures on Sunday (with a high around -25 degrees Celsius) in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Two of the three NorAm and selection races took place at Lappe Nordic last week, with freestyle sprints on Thursday, Jan. 14, and classic distance races on Friday, Jan. 15. According to a press release, the following athletes have been selected to this year’s Junior and U23 World Championship Teams competing in Rasnov, Romania, from Feb. 22–28. Francois Pepin of the Pierre Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH) will head up the group as team leader. Of note, none of the U23-eligible National Senior Development Team members — Cendrine Browne, Dahria Beatty and Katherine Stewart-Jones — are on the list. With the Ski Tour Canada World Cups starting the week after U23…

Sandau Keeps NorAm Streak Alive, Women’s Podium Repeats in Classic Distance Race

By Gerry Furseth The Lappe NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, continued Friday with classic individual starts, and the resulting podiums had a familiar look. Kevin Sandau of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) won the 15-kilometre men’s race in 42:10.67, extending his unbeaten streak in NorAm distance races to four wins in as many races this season.  Scott Hill of the Thunder Bay National Development Centre (NDC) placed second, 31.64 seconds back, followed by Para Nordic World Cup Team member Brian McKeever (+1:00.59). The weather was warmer than Thursday: -11 degrees Celsius (12 Fahrenheit) when the men started, and fresh snow overnight made waxing easier. “[I’m] always a bit apprehensive racing in Lappe as the trails are confusing and a bit hard to memorize,” Sandau wrote in an email. “But after racing here over the past decade I feel like I’m finally starting to familiarize myself with the courses.” Sandau’s race plan was to start hard. “The course descends…

Dupont, Locke Top Thunder Bay NorAm Sprints

By Gerry Furseth The NorAm series resumed with the U23/Junior World Championships trials and first domestic races of 2016 at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with freestyle sprints on Thursday. After a delay to wait for more comfortable temperatures, Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) won the 1.3-kilometre qualifier in 2:59.79 on her way to winning the A-final in 3:00.69.  Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) finished second overall, 0.22 seconds back, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) took third (+0.85). “I am glad the organizing committee had the forethought to delay the start of the qualifier,” Dupont wrote in an email. “Because of that the day went off without a hitch.” According to Cross Country Canada, the marked Dupont’s 36th NorAm sprint. “The highlight of my day was seeing first hand my team mate, Ember [Large], literally crush the climb in the quarter final,” Dupont wrote. “It made me do a double take and made me think…