Whitehorse's Knute Johnsgaard burst onto the cross-country skiing scene in 2017 after being a last-minute addition to the national men's relay team that captured Canada's first ever medal in the event.

Knute Johnsgaard in action

Cross-country skiing athlete Knute Johnsgaard developed his love of nature skiing the trails in his home of Whitehorse. (NordicFocus and Knute Johnsgaard)

The 2017 season was a year of firsts for Johnsgaard. The 24-year-old qualified for his first world championships, landed his first world cup podium and secured a spot to the Winter Olympic Games all in the same week. 

Johnsgaard sees Whitehorse as more than just his birthplace — it's where the rookie developed into an elite ski racer and explored what he says is "one of the world's last true wilderness areas." 

The first-time Olympian credits his explorations and Yukon's warm and supportive people for helping him achieve his spot on the national cross-country ski team.

The wilderness shaped Johnsgaard into an elite athlete — but it was his hometown that shaped him into the person he is today.

Knute Johnsgaard always misses Whitehorse when when he has to be away from home1:24

Get to know Whitehorse

  • Notable Olympians include: Zachary Bell (cycling) and Jeane Lassen (weightlifting)
  • It has roughly the same population today as it did in 1900 (33,897 in 2015, 31,055 in 1900)
  • The city has 85 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails and 20 km of back-country trails 
  • It started as a transportation hub during the Klondike gold rush in 1898
  • Known as "the wilderness city"