Yukon Sabine Schweiger competes in the sprint distance race on Aug. 4. (Adrian Zissos/Orienteering Canada)

Yukon orienteers in control at nationals

Small team bags 10 medals in Perth, Ont.

A small team of Yukoners navigated to control points and onto the podium at the Canadian Orienteering Championships this past week.

Five Yukoners won a total of 10 medals at the championships in and around Perth, Ont., Aug. 4-7. That’s double the success rate from last year’s nationals when a team of nine won nine medals.

Whitehorse’s Leif Blake won three medals in the males 20-34 “elite” division over the weekend.

“It’s been quite a good weekend of racing,” said Blake in an email to the News. “The sprint was held in the historic centre of Perth, which made for an above average sprint map by North American standards. I had a few minor mistakes, but nothing that would throw my race. Overall, the field wasn’t incredibly competitive, as most of the junior team was not present, and I finished some 20 seconds behind the leader in second place.”

In addition to a silver in the sprint on Aug. 4, Blake won gold in the middle distance event and gold in the long, both held at the Foley Mountain Conservation Area south of Perth, Aug. 5-6.

The 18-year-old won the 4.7-kilometre middle by over six minutes and the 9.1-kilometre long by over 11 minutes.

Blake, who was held to one medal at last year’s nationals, represented Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Finland last month.

“The middle distance went fairly well, with only a few errors navigating into controls,” said Blake. “Despite the relatively open forest however, the runability was heavily reduced by loose rocks that littered the ground. I feel that I could have improved on my time by running a bit more aggressively, but that could have ended in injury.”

The long race “went even better,” he added. “The first part was held in relatively flat and open terrain with hard ground underfoot, and I was able to take advantage of this with quite straight route choices. I was able to maintain my focus and keep good bearings all while running at a good pace.”

Whitehorse’s Nesta Leduc kept a win streak going in Perth. After winning two gold at last year’s nationals, she won three more over the weekend, adding to Canadian championships medal total in the dozens going back many years.

Leduc, who competed in females over-80 division, took gold in the sprint (as the lone racer), middle and long distance events, defeating one other competitor in the latter two.

Sabine Schweiger won two medals in females over-45, a big division with an international field of over 20 competitors. She finished fourth in the sprint and took silver as the second place Canadian, placed fifth in the middle distance and took bronze as the third place Canadian and placed seventh in the long, just missing another medal as the fourth place Canadian.

Whitehorse’s Jennifer MacKeigan took sixth and eighth in the first two races in females 21-34 before placing fifth in the long, good enough for bronze as the third place Canadian.

Blake, Schweiger and MacKeigan also teamed up for bronze in the relay, just 34 seconds behind the silver medalists, on Aug. 7.

Yukon’s Erik Blake also competed in Perth, taking 14th in the middle and 12th in the long in the males over-45 division.

MacKeigan and Leduc also claimed a couple medals each at the Eastern Canadian Orienteering Championships, July 29-30 in Montreal.

Leduc — no surprise here — won gold in both events, a middle and a long, in her division. MacKeigan two bronze in her division.

Yukon also had three racers compete at the 2017 Western Canadian Orienteering Championships, mid July at Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba. Whitehorse’s Forest Pearson, who opted for the westerns instead of the nationals, won a gold and two silver in the competitive male 21-34 division despite being in his 40s.

The Yukon Orienteering Association will host the 2018 North American Orienteering Championships for the first time next summer, as well as the Canadian championships.

“I’m looking forward to the Canadian and North American champs to be held next year back home in the Yukon,” added Leif. “There’ll no doubt be some excellent courses on our world class terrain.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com