In a typical year, Dahria Beatty’s atypical job took her to Finland, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Italy, Germany and Switzerland.
On March 4, after more than a decade in the field, she worked her final shift. At age 29, Beatty is retiring.
“Many of my friends and my younger sister have, as we called it when we were skiing, adult jobs,” Beatty said. “They took a more direct and traditional career path. I’ve been able to do the sport I love as my job and have it support me over the past 10 years. I know that in a couple years I will be there beside my other friends working a more traditional job perhaps and will have to do that for many more years, so I am not super stressed about the fact that I might be starting that chapter a few years later. It just means I got to work a more fun alternative for longer.”
Beatty has been a staple of the Canadian cross-country ski team since 2009 when she competed at her first world junior championship. She won the Nor-Am Cup overall title in 2016 and became a World Cup regular the same year. She raced at the Olympics in 2018 and 2022.
And through it all she won exactly 1,100 Swiss Francs in prize money. That’s equivalent to $1,700. So how did she manage to turn cross-country skiing into a job for more than a decade? It took a village. Or, rather, a city, a territory and a country.
Beatty, born and raised in Whitehorse, is forever grateful to Sport Canada for eight years of federal carding money, about $160,000 in total; to the Yukon government for about half that again; and to the dedicated stable of personal financial sponsors, mostly from Yukon, who stepped up and stayed with her through thick and thin: RyanWood Exploration and GroundTruth Exploration, Proskida, Tait Custom Trailer Sales, Alkan Air, Total North and Icycle Sport.
“Without them it wouldn’t have been a feasible route to continue this long,” she said.
“It was a job for me. I was making a salary. I had more expenses perhaps because we did have to pay for going to Europe. But my gross salary was comparable to people working a conventional job, so I feel very grateful for that.”
After 95 World Cup races, 19 more at the world championships and 11 at the Olympics, she turns her attention now to education. She plans to finish a business management degree, with a major in marketing. And then, she isn’t sure. The prospect of the unknown is exciting and daunting.
“Because I have had so much passion and assurance in my path being exactly what I wanted it to be in sport, it’s a little bit scary transitioning now and not knowing if I will love what I’m doing next to the same degree.
“But in terms of satisfaction and happiness and experiences, if I did it all over again, I’d take the same path. I’m super grateful for the career I had. And I definitely am not worried about having to finish up my school now. I turned 29 a couple of days ago, so when I think of it that way, it’s oh I’m still finishing up my undergrad. But at the same time, school will be there for me next year. Sport is not something you can do at the highest level at any age, so I am very glad I had these 10-plus years to pursue it and be able to represent Canada well.”
Putting in that last shift, a 30-kilometre classic race at the world championships in Planica, Slovenia, was bittersweet.
“It was a little bit of a surreal feeling. Skiing has been part of my life since I was a kid and I’ve been racing full-time, representing Canada for the last 10-plus years. So it’s been really intertwined with my identity and it felt kind of strange to know that was my last race on the international stage, yet it also felt very much the same as every other race, but maybe a little more gratitude for what racing has given me and brought me over the past decade.”
She didn’t get everything she wanted out of her job, but who does? She never hit the podium on the World Cup tour, finishing as high as 15th in an individual race, seventh in team sprint and eighth in a relay.
“It’s a goal or dream that I have had to, knowing I was retiring, come to terms with. It was something I always tried and hoped to achieve that didn’t come to fruition. A regret? No, because I did everything I believed was best possible to achieve that and it did not happen for me. I’m still glad I went through the process to try.
“So it’s not a regret. It’s a small disappointment, but the journey was still worth it and I can celebrate the successes I did have.”