Alaskan old schooler steals Yukon Championship

The best paddle-wielder in the Yukon this year is an Alaskan. Armed with a old fashioned paddle and a patient, no-frills approach, Eagle…

The best paddle-wielder in the Yukon this year is an Alaskan.

Armed with a old fashioned paddle and a patient, no-frills approach, Eagle River’s Andy Hutzel took on all comers at the Yukon Table Tennis Championships on the weekend.

In Sunday’s open-singles final at Whitehorse Elementary School, Hutzel came up against Whitehorse’s Kevin Murphy, another seasoned veteran with decades of competitive experience.

Defending champ Murphy couldn’t solve Hutzel’s shots — which he likened to knuckleballs coming across the table.

“Some of those shots defied the laws of physics,” said Murphy after losing the match.

Hutzel’s defensive style and spin control threw Murphy off his game.

“That old style really neutralizes the spin on the ball,” said Murphy. “I hit it thinking the spin was going one way, but it would be the opposite, and I’d put it into the bottom of the net like I’m some sort of rookie.”

Murphy and third-place finisher Ryan Bachli use a more modern, looping style — which can give the ball major spin and speed as well, but is more risky.

Players get further back from the table, and end up taking more steps to get into forehand looping position.

Murphy said the unpredictable spin on Hutzel’s returns kept him glued to the middle of the table, preventing effective use of the looping style.

Hutzel never adopted the new approach — in fact, he quit the sport in 1975, and didn’t pick it up again until 30 years later.

When he started competing again, his archaic style befuddled the wide-open players, and he’s taken it all the way to the US Open (which he’s planning to do again this year, in Las Vegas).

“I think it’s really funny, it flusters a lot of people,” he said, with a grin. “It’s the classic, defensive style, but nobody uses it anymore.” He praised both Murphy’s skills and Bachli’s, as well.

“That Ryan is a great player — when he’s on, that ball really goes.”

After winning the open singles, Hutzel and his German partner Thomas Erbs started to show their fatigue in the doubles event, finishing fourth after losing to Bachli and Ben Barrett-Forrest.

Technically, Murphy remains Yukon champion with his silver-medal performance, and he’s heading to Vancouver in two weeks for the Western Canadian Open Table Tennis Championships, along with Ryan and Zara Bachli, Claire Abbott, Anna Smith and Mernoush Mahdavi.

The open competition format at Westerns will put Yukon’s juniors up against the best in the west, and there will also B and C divisions for less competitive players.

And players with ratings can compete in their categories as well.

Ryan Bachli won the last rated tournament he entered in Richmond in February, in the under-1000 division, so Murphy, who is also coach of the Yukon team, is expecting Bachli to do well.

Event winners

Women’s singles

Edna Knight — gold

(Yukon women’s champion

for ninth time)

Myrna Bruns — silver

Zara Bachli — bronze

Sue Mei Zhang — fourth

Men’s singles

Andy Hutzel — gold

Kevin Murphy — silver

Ryan Bachli — bronze

Mernoush Mahdavi — fourth

Novice singles

Walker Ewing — gold

Kieran Halliday — silver

Lucy Liu — bronze

Yeu Fang Sharma — fourth

Open doubles

Kevin Murphy/Shandeep

Sharma — gold

Ben Barrett-Forrest/Ryan

Bachli — silver

Zara Bachli/Edna Knight —


Andy Hutzel/Thomas Erbs —


Team event

Andy Hutzel/Thomas Erbs —


Ryan Bachli/David Zheng —


Mehrnoush Mahdavi/Darren

Murphy —bronze

Sue Mei Zhang/Ben Barrett-

Forrest — fourth

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Yukon paleontologists Grant Zazula (left) and Elizabeth Hall (right) examine mammoth fossils in Whitehorse on June 10. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mammoth bones discovered at Dawson mine site

“So this is just a start, hopefully, we’re going to be learning a lot.”

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker plead guilty to offences under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Couple who broke isolation rules to get vaccines in Beaver Creek fined $2,300

Crown and defence agreed on no jail time for Rod and Ekaterina Baker


Wyatt’s World for June 16, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
COVID-19 outbreak surges to 50 active cases in the Yukon

Officials urge Yukoners to continue following guidelines, get vaccinated

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

For the second year running, the Yukon Quest will not have 1,000 mile race. Crystal Schick/Yukon News
The Yukon Quest will be two shorter distance events instead of a 1,000 mile race

After receiving musher feeback, the Yukon Quest Joint Board of Directors to hold two shorter distances races instead of going forward with the 1,000 mile distance

It’s been a long time since most Yukoners have seen downtown Skagway. (Andrew Seal/Yukon News file)
What Canada-U.S. border changes could mean for Alaska travel

The federal government is expected to make an announcement on Monday

A rendering of the proposed new city hall/services building and transit hub. (City of Whitehorse/submitted)
City building plans move forward

Council approves procurement going ahead

Most Read