Brendan Green, 31
Hay River, NWT
Brendan is representing Canada at his third winter Olympics. In 2014, he had a top-ten finish in the 15-kilometre mass start. Brendan, a veteran and leader of the biathlon team, made headlines in 2016, when he was anchor on a bronze-medal winning relay team at the World Championships. It was the first time Canada had medalled in the relay at that event.
Dahria Beatty, 23
These will be Dahria’s first Olympic games, but it’s not like she’ll be surrounded by strangers. Joining her on the cross-country ski team are two other members of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club—Knute Johnsgaard, whom she’s been training with since she was nine, and Emily Nishikawa, someone she’s looked up to as a role model. “To have two other Yukoners who are going to be at the Olympics alongside me is really exciting,” she says.
Beatty says the Olympic experience will be different both in nature and scale from events on the World Cup cross-country skiing circuit. “It will be such a huge stage. The whole country is watching,” she says. “One of the things that I’m most looking forward to is we’ll have our ski teammates, but then also you have this bigger team, this whole Canadian team that are your teammates supporting you and you’re supporting them in all different sports. There’s such an amazing energy—you can thrive off the energy from your teammates on your ski team, but also the speed skaters, the biathletes, the alpine skiers.”
Jesse Cockney, 28
Skiing has played a prominent role in Jesse’s life. His Olympic bio puts it bluntly: “His family skied a lot while growing up so he’s never really known anything else.”
Jesse was born in Yellowknife and moved to Canmore, Alberta at a young age. He’s had some promising finishes in the lead-up to the Olympics, including a top-ten at a test event in Pyeongchang last February. Competing in his second Olympic games, Jesse is hoping to build on his 2014 results in Sochi, where he just finished outside of the top-50 in both of his individual races.
Knute Johnsgaard, 25
Knute will be competing at the Olympics for the first time. He qualified last spring and has been preparing for the games ever since. “The Olympics is something I’ve always dreamed about since I was very young,” he says.
Knute’s goal heading in was to make the team and he’s got realistic expectations for Pyeongchang. “There’s always nerves, but I have to be real in the fact that I can’t expect to get an individual medal there,” he says. “But I think we could do super well in the relay.
“I’ll just hope to be in the best shape of the year at the Olympics. That’s all I can really do. And if I do that, I can get a pretty solid result. For me, a top-30 performance in an individual race would be pretty good.”
Kevin Koe, 43
He’s won the Brier three times. He’s a two-time World Champion. Now, Kevin Koe has his sights on Olympic Gold in the biggest tournament of his career.
Koe grew up in Yellowknife, representing the NWT as the skip of junior nationals and Arctic Winter Games teams before moving to Alberta. When he won entry to the Olympics after intense playdowns in December, the messages came pouring in from friends and family in the North. “I still consider Yellowknife home so it’s nice to get all those messages from everyone back there, for sure,” he says. “I know a lot of them still follow.” That’s a bit of an understatement.
Emily Nishikawa, 28
Pyeongchang will be Emily’s second Olympics experience, after she competed in individual and relay events in Sochi.
It’s a long path to go from Canada’s North to the Olympics but the strong contingent of Northern athletes in Pyeongchang proves it’s definitely possible. And take note, Arctic Winter Games athletes. As you get ready for the games in Hay River and Fort Smith, NWT next month, they play no small part in the career progression of high-performance athletes. Just ask Emily. “I was inspired from my time at AWG, and had so much fun that I wanted to keep working hard so I’d be able to attend the next games two years later. The AWG is a big multi-sport event, and I think it prepared me for what to expect when I competed in the Canada Winter Games, which prepared me for the Olympics,” she says.