FasterSkier’s coverage of the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden, is brought to you by the generous support of L.L. Bean, now featuring a complete line of Kikkan Randall training wear.
FALUN, Sweden — It was another almost-there day for Emily Nishikawa of Canada, who finished 32nd in the 30 k classic at World Championships on Saturday.
After scoring her first World Cup points in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this season, Nishikawa has been hovering around the top 30. The placed 30th in the 10 k freestyle on Tuesday, and almost matched that today. In fact, she was in 31st coming into the stadium, but slipped on one of the last corners. That allowed Laura Orgue of Spain to glide past her, and Nishikawa couldn’t catch back up.
Nevertheless, her takeaway from this year’s World Championships is a positive one, emphasizing improvement over past editions – at last years Olympics she did not break into the top 40 in individual racing, and two years ago in Val di Fiemme, Italy, she was lapped in the 30 k classic.
“This was probably one of my better 30 k’s,” Nishikawa said at the finish. “It was still a hard race and I wouldn’t say that it was one of my best races, but I was just saying to Justin [Wadsworth], each 30 k I do is getting better and better, so in that sense it was positive. There’s still a lot of work to do to get the hang of racing 30’s because they are just so hard. But it’s a million times better than last World Champs.”
Canada’s women’s team came into World Championships with little pressure and few external expectations. Perianne Jones, the most accomplished skier on the team, finished 24th in the classic sprint, and ended up racing more distance competitions than usual – including finishing 32nd in the 10 k freestyle, her best distance result in two years.
The third member of the team, 22-year-old Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt, finished 52nd in the 10 k freestyle, her only start of the Championships.
Considering that Canada did not even name any women to their World Cup “A” team this year, Nishikawa considers her improvement a major success.
“I’ve improved a ton this year,” she said. “To be top-30 in the 10 k and then 32nd today, it’s a step in the right direction. I want to improve on that and get into the top 20 soon. I think the improvement has been huge since last World Championships, and you have to be happy with that.”
Canada has traveled to several World Cups this season without bringing any women, but in the coming weeks Nishikawa will head to Lahti, Finland, and then Drammen and Oslo, Norway, and meet up with more Canadian teammates than she has seen in Europe all year.
“Some of the girls who are on the ‘B’ tour right now will be there,” Nishikawa said. “That will be really cool.”
Wadsworth, the Canadian National Team Head Coach, was impressed with Nishikawa’s skiing.
“She has brought a different level of commitment and a different level of umph to the racing over the whole season,” he said. “The whole team is really proud of her. I think there will be really good things to come from her in the next couple of years.”
He hopes that Nishikawa’s recent experience in the World Cup points will be shared with her younger teammates.
“Emily – they definitely look up to Emily, and the younger generation of skiers we have coming up now are going to be good also,” he said. “The more times we can get everybody together, especially over here and racing, the better. It will be great and it will be a good opportunity for us.”
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.