Sport Yukon unveiled their athletes of the year this week, and the bar for sport in Yukon has never been higher.
International male athlete of the year went to Dylan Cozens, the highest-ever NHL draft pick to come from Yukon.
Cozens has won the award once before, in 2019, when he was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres. He went on to score 38 goals and register 47 assists with the Lethbridge Hurricanes that season.
In the 2020-21 season, he has so far played 20 games for Buffalo and scored eight goals for Canada in their silver-medal run at the 2021 World Juniors.
Despite those achievements, in a video message recorded for Sport Yukon, Cozens struck a humble note.
"There are so many other great athletes that could've been chosen," he said. "I know it's been a tough year, and not everyone's been able to compete in their sports."
"I appreciate all the support I get from back home. I hear you guys," he said. "I'm very proud to represent the Yukon internationally, and in the NHL."
Top-ranked skier honoured
International female athlete of the year went to Dahria Beatty, Canada's top-ranked cross-country sprint skier, who recorded her message during a break at the World Nordic Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany.
"Huge thank you to Sport Yukon and the whole Yukon community and the ski community for the support for over a decade now, I really appreciate it," she said.
Beatty has represented Canada internationally at cross-country events since 2009, including at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
"She has consistently placed in the top 30 at world cup ski events," a write-up from Sport Yukon on the award reads. "These achievements speak to her training, exceptional work ethic, and willingness to push herself."
It's the fourth time Beatty has received the award, with previous wins in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
Yukon youth athletes recognized
In addition to international stars, Sport Yukon recognized youth athletes, coaches and teams who demonstrated exceptional talent this year.
Delia Therriault, formerly of Mayo, Yukon, was recognized for her dedication to archery, competing "her way to the top rankings … and just recently breaking a Canadian record."
Emmett Kapaniuk, another archer, took home the national/territorial male athlete of the year award.
"He puts all his time, focus, efforts and heart and soul into the sport, so watch for big things from Emmett in the future," his award write-up reads.
Archery coach Warren Kapaniuk took home the coach of the year award, and Sophia Marnik took home the administrator of the year award for overseeing races for Biathlon Yukon.
Team of the Year went to the Yukon North Stars women's hockey team, which took home a gold medal from a tournament in Langley, B.C.
"Their record over the weekend was four wins and one loss," the write-up reads, "not to mention an impressive rush to the Vancouver Airport following the win to catch a plane home."
The awards are presented annually to athletes who call Yukon their home. Past recipients include cross-country skier Emily Nishikawa, Olympic weightlifter Jeane Lassen and professional racing cyclist Zachary Bell.