Yukon skiers head to World Championships

Emily and Graham Nishikawa of Whitehorse are among 12 skiers representing Canada at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Italy next month.

Emily and Graham Nishikawa of Whitehorse named to Canadian nordic team

Two Yukon skiers will represent Canada at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Italy next month.

Graham and Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse were named to the team Wednesday. The competition takes place Feb. 20 to March 3 in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse skis during the women's World Cup 15-km Skiathlon in Canmore, Alta., in December. Emily Nishikawa and her brother Graham have been named to Canada's team for the nordic skiing Senior World Championships. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Graham Nishikawa, 29, is the first-ever Yukon male to make it to the world championships, a competition that ranks in prestige second only to the Olympics.

"This is obviously my breakthrough year," he said.

Graham has done well in qualifying and placed well in international races but said he still felt it was challenging to make the team.

Joining Graham on the team is Canada's top female skier this year, his 23-year old sister Emily, who missed the last qualifier because of illness. Emily is the first female Yukon skier to go to the world championships since Lucy Steele competed in 1997.

"This has been a big goal of mine for this year and for everything to come together and race well and to be named to the team, yeah, I couldn't be happier," she said.

Both skiers say it is a testament to the ski program in the Yukon that two of the 12 national team members are from the Yukon.