Five Northern skiers head to Olympic team trials

Emily and Graham Nishikawa, Colin Abbott and Knute Johnsgaard of Whitehorse and Jesse Cockney, originally from Yellowknife, will be aiming for good finishes at the cross-country ski qualifying races in Canmore, Alta., Jan. 8 to 12.

4 Yukoners, 1 Yellowknifer set to compete in Canmore, Alta., races

Cross-country skier Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse races in Quebec in March 2012. Nishikawa will be competing this month for a spot on the national team heading to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (courtesy of James Cunningham)

Five Northern cross-country skiers are hoping for a spot competing for Team Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The cross-country ski qualifying races will be held in Canmore, Alta., Jan. 8 to 12. Emily and Graham Nishikawa, Colin Abbott and Knute Johnsgaard of Whitehorse and Jesse Cockney, originally from Yellowknife, will be aiming for good finishes. 

Emily Nishikawa, 24, who has been cross-country skiing since she was four years old, is on the national cross-country skiing senior development team and has a good shot at making the Olympic team.

Jesse Cockney, originally from Yellowknife but now living and training in Canmore, Alta., races in the 2012 World Cup Skate Sprint held at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Cockney will be competing for a spot in cross-country skiing at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

"It can be overwhelming because there's a lot on the line in these races," she said. "But I try not to think about that and treat it like any other race."

Alain Masson, head coach of the Yukon Ski Team, said he would be proud to have the Yukon represented in Russia.

"It would be a great achievement for the Yukon program to have some of these individuals qualifying," he said. "It would just demonstrate the strength and quality of the Yukon ski team program."

Cockney just returned from touring Europe, competing in the cross-country skiing World Cup. He didn't take home any medals but says the opportunity to compete with the best is always one of his goals and he's still hopeful he can do that at the Olympics in Sochi

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