CANMORE – As the sun sets on another world cup season, taking a look back, it was an unforgettable one for Dahria Beatty.
The 29-year-old cross-country skier from Whitehorse, Yukon, got engaged during winter solstice, enjoyed the first normal competition calendar since 2019, and completed the Ski de Tour, a six-to-nine European stage ski race inspired by the road cycling spectacle in France.
The season was slowed down in many ways for Beatty, as she enjoyed the moment, saw long-time friends, and, at the end of it all, retired from the sport after two Olympics, four world championships, and 95 world cup starts.
“It was a good time where I was still loving what I was doing, [and] I was still excited for the opportunities this year, but also, having been committed to the sport and spending my winters in Europe, for the better half of the last decade, it is incredible, but it’s also a big sacrifice to be away from home,” said Beatty.
“It felt like a good time where I wanted to leave the sport before I wasn’t enjoying it anymore and I thought this would be a good intersection for that.”
As Beatty transitions from a full-time athlete, she’s been working toward her future. The Yukoner has slowly started trading her her skis for school books and is enrolled in business management with a major in marketing through Athabasca University
As a former Olympian, Robin McKeever, head coach of the national ski team, said hanging up your boots isn’t an easy decision. He thinks Beatty is going down the right path though.
“It’s always going to be challenging because no matter when you decide to retire there will always be pieces of you thinking you could have done this or that differently,” said McKeever.
“But as long as you have your future set ahead of you, and it might take a bit of time, I’m pretty sure she’ll be comfortable with her decision down the road and I know that she’s ready.”
Described as always organized and prepared for the next challenge, the “team mom” is already missed overseas by former teammates. Beatty had started off as the baby of the national team before emerging as a shoulder teammates could lean on and a voice for advice.
Representing Canada since 2009-10, Beatty left burn marks on frozen trails and quickly emerged as one of the country’s best prospects in the sport.
In 2012, she relocated from Whitehorse to Canmore in order to pursue her Olympic dreams and joined the Alberta World Cup Academy, an elite ski program that has developed and trained many national team athletes.
Debuting on the world cup in 2016, the talented cross-country skier’s biggest results on the top circuit were 15th and 16th place finishes in 2016 and 2019 sprint events.
Beatty made her Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. That year, three Yukoners represented Canada in cross-country skiing: Beatty, Emily Nishikawa, and Knute Johnsgaard.
Four years later in Beijing, the Whitehorse-native was a personal-best machine at the biggest event of the year. Her shining moments were a 25th in sprint, and cracking the 20-top in the 10-kilometre classic, placing 18th.
The women’s relay team of Beatty, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and Cendrine Browne finished ninth in Beijing. It was the highest placing at an Olympics for Canadian women since 2002, when the youngsters were inspired by the likes of Beckie Scott, Sara Renner, Milaine Theriault and Amanda Fortier who finished eighth in Salt Lake City.
“One of the things that helped me most of my career, especially as a younger athlete, is I never doubted my path I had set out as a goal for myself,” said Beatty. “I think you have to kind of do that as an athlete, even if you don’t end up achieving them.”
The past few seasons on the world cup circuit were flipped upside down, uneasy, and anything but normal for athletes while playing inside new regulations and cohorts.
Entering the twilight of her career, Beatty wanted one last go on frozen trails after Beijing. One last ride into the sunset.
“When I moved, I had hopes and plans for a long ski career in Canmore and I think was able to successfully do that, for the most part,” said Beatty.
“I’m excited for what the future is going to bring and it feels like the right moment for me.”