Dahria Beatty – cross-country
Top ten world cup threat
Thursday, Feb 08, 2018 06:00 am
No one has dominated Canadian sprinting quite like Dahria Beatty.
Powerful technique coupled with a never-say-die attitude, Beatty reigns supreme on the short course. Capable of lifting her entire team with her infectious laugh, or withering an opponent with an icy stare, she has shouldered the burden of great expectations with a commanding presence and exacting desire for perfection.
Now, the 24-year-old will get her first taste of an Olympic Games, and the opportunity to become Canada’s next ski queen.
The daughter of a volleyball-playing physiotherapist and a ski-mad airline manager, Beatty grew up as the poster child for multi-sport athletes.
“I did a ton of different sports growing up: gymnastics, soccer, dance, skiing. As I got older, I did figure skating, summer basketball, orienteering and volleyball,” said Beatty, who went to national championships in orienteering, soccer and cross-country skiing.
Current sports science suggests such an upbringing will guard against injury and burnout. Thus far, it’s produced Canada’s best female sprinter.
At 18, Beatty moved to Canmore from Whitehorse and, at 24, she just might be Canada’s best hope for a women’s ski medal. Even as a long shot, Beatty has shone under the biggest lights, as is evident by her 15th-place finish at world juniors, 15th at the Canmore World Cup races in 2015, and the anchor leg in the 4 x 5 kilometre relay at world championships, where she helped Canada to its best finish since 2001.
Last year, she became the first Canadian woman to string together three top-30 world cup results since 2014. She was back in the top-20 this year.
That’s not to say Beatty’s journey hasn’t been without its struggles. She fell victim to overtraining, chasing the massive training loads most world champions talk about, and has experienced other health scares. She now lectures younger skiers about the perils of pushing too much, too soon.
“In competitive sport, finding your limits is something you always try to achieve. Sometimes you push too far. Especially for women, that’s part of the sport. I did have a season where I was over-trained and now have a better understanding of what my body is telling me … sometimes that’s inevitable,” Beatty said.
Her training plan changed this year to include more strength and technique work, but it hasn’t translated into better results to date.
Beatty is gifted academically as well. She has studied commerce and civil engineering in her spare time. She got a job at Harvest Café upon moving to Canmore, where the owners still describe her as one of the hardest workers they’ve ever had.
“I like having something else on the go. It’s important when skiing isn’t going well to have something to change the focus. Often that comes at school, and often I have little projects I work on, like baking or painting landscapes,” Beatty said.
She also speaks about issues of global importance. When asked how she would change her sport, climate change was her thoughtful answer.
“The first thing I would do is make sure there was natural snow to ski on in the future – preserve the sport by keeping winter alive and snowy,” Beatty said.
Yet all must have their Achilles heal and for Dahria, that’s dance – which happens to be her sister Odessa’s specialty. While Dahria busts her butt on frozen ski trails, Odessa studies ballet in downtown Montreal at McGill University.
“She’s very supportive and she tries to teach me … But I’m so bad at it, it doesn’t really help,” laughs Beatty. “We both chose very different paths. She’s got a good life path.”
Beatty has been surpassing the tremendous expectations set upon her for so long, it’s easy to forget she is only 24 – four to five years away from her peak performance age. Yet she loves skiing, the north and her community, which keeps her in balance. After the Games, she will ski across Greenland with her father, for fun.
“Skiing is the sport I compete in, and who I am as a person. It will always continue to be part of my life. I come from a small community and when I have a good result, the entire community is with me,” Beatty said.