If you want to win something at Sport Yukon Awards Night, the sooner the better. Competition is getting more fierce every year, it seems.
The 35th annual award ceremony, held Friday at the Whitehorse Westmark, saw some top local, national and international athletes, coaches and administrators win awards.
With some highly accomplished people receiving honours, the evening was in itself a tribute to the high-level athleticism coming out of the Yukon these days.
Winning International Male Athlete of the Year, for the third year straight, was Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell.
“It is always a great honour to be recognized by the place and people who have made me into the person I am today,” wrote Bell in an e-mail to the News. “Every year I know that if I put forward my best possible performance I will have the whole of the Yukon taking pride in what we have been able to accomplish.
“To me, the recognition means that there are still young people in the Yukon looking up to the things I am doing and knowing that these things are possible.”
Bell firmly established himself as the country’s top track cyclist winning four gold and one silver at the 2010 Track Cycling Canadian Championships in August.
More recently, at the Commonwealth Games in October, the 27-year-old won a bronze in the scratch race and took in two other top-10 results.
Bell began the year winning two gold medals at a World Cup event in Beijing, China. In mid-July, he won the Tour de Delta road race in Delta, BC.
He will be starting the 2011 World Cup season and the beginning of an Olympic qualifying season with races in Melbourne, Australia, at the end of this week, competing in the omnium, an event recently returned to world championship track cycling after almost a 40 year absence.
“There are a lot of questions around the event and a lot of learning to be done, but I feel I am in good position to start off the Yukon’s second summer Olympic adventure,” wrote Bell. “I just hope everyone up there is as excited about the next two years as I am.”
Bell competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, finishing seventh in the points race.
Whitehorse native Mackenzie Downing, who also was on Team Canada for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, swam her way to the International Female Athlete of the Year.
At the Games, Downing finished in the top-10 in three butterfly events with her best being sixth in the 200-metre.
“I was really excited about it,” said Downing of the award. “I didn’t know if I was going to win it this year because there are so many great athletes coming out of the Yukon right now.
“It means so much to me to know that people at home still support me. When people ask me where I’m from, I say Whitehorse – I don’t say Victoria.”
The 24-year-old won silver in the 200-metre butterfly at the Summer National Championships in Victoria, where she trains and attends University, at the start of August, qualifying for the Pan-Pacific Games, where she finished seventh in the same event.
Just this past weekend at a Canada Cup event in Etobicoke, Ontario, Downing won silver medals in the 100- and 200-metre butterfly.
Snagging the same accolade for the second year in a row, Whitehorse’s Dahria Beatty was named National/Territorial Female Athlete of the Year.
A member of the national junior team, at the Junior World Cross-Country Championships in Hinterzarten, Germany, in February, Beatty finished 25th in the five-kilometre classic and later finished her leg eighth in a 10-kilometre relay, before the team slipped to 14th.
Fifteen at the time, Beatty was the youngest skier in the 81-skier junior women division, while still technically qualifying for the juvenile division.
The following month at the Haywood Nationals, held in Whitehorse, Beatty won a gold, a silver and two bronze medals. Although still eligible for the juvenile girls division there too, Beatty raced in the junior category and was the overall, aggregate champion.
“They both stand out,” said Beatty in a recent interview with the News. “The World Juniors was more of a new experience for me. It was the first time I ever raced outside of North America so it was very exciting and a huge learning experience.
“The nationals were also very exciting because it was in our hometown and we were able to compete on our home trails.”
Before the Haywoods, at the Western Canadian Championships, Beatty skied to two gold medals and earlier qualified for Junior Worlds at Val Cartier, Quebec, in the NorAm Canada Cup, producing two fourth-place finishes.
Although the award stems from her cross-country skiing talents, Beatty is also a force to be reckoned with in other sports. Aside from representing her school, FH Collins, in both volleyball and basketball, Beatty played basketball on Team Yukon at the last Canada Summer Games. She is also a national level orienteerer, winning a gold in the women’s 17-20 sprint and came fourth in the middle-distance event at last year’s Canadian Orienteering Championships. The previous year she won two gold medals.
For the award, Beatty beat out other nominees, swimmer Mary Anne Myers, who set
and then broke three national age-group records, and fellow orienteerer Kendra Murray, who won three gold medals between the Canadian and North American championships.
National/Territorial Male Athlete of the Year, Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard, another cross-country skier on the national junior team, was unable to accept the award in person, as he is currently training in Quebec.
However, his performance at last season’s Haywood Nationals in Whitehorse speaks for itself. Partnered with Jeff Wood in the junior males’ team sprint event, the two battled back from fifth to take gold. Johnsgaard then continued
to produce in the following races, taking sixth in the 10-kilometre classic and fourth in the 15-kilometre free, winning the 1992 age section of the junior male division. His results, as well as those of Beatty, Murray and a few other locals, helped the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club reach third in the team standings. He also finished first in the small junior male division at last winter’s Yukon Cross-Country Ski Championships.
For the award, Johnsgaard beat 2010 Canadian Rifle Silhouette champ Nicholas Rittel and orienteerer and fellow skier Trevor Bray.
The Team Koltun curling rink swept up the Team of the Year award, their second in a row.
The Team, led by skip Sarah Koltun and includes third Chelsea Duncan, second Linea Eby and lead Jenna Duncan, picked up three wins at Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec last January.
The rink then went undefeated en route to a gold at the Arctic Winter Games in March before following up their performance with another gold at the Optimist International Under 18 Curling Championships in April in Regina.
With record medal hauls for Yukoners at the Canadian and North American Orienteering Championships, not to mention a bevy more at the Western Canadians, Brent Langbakk, head coach for the Yukon Orienteering Association, was named Coach of the Year.
At the Canadian championships Yukoners won 27 medals, which was nearly matched at the North Americans, taking in 23.
Behind Langbakk’s coaching skills is a long competitive history, representing Canada at the World Orienteering Championships five times. Just this year, racing in men’s 35-44 age category, Langbakk won two silver and a gold at nationals and two gold and a silver at the North Americans.
Friday’s ceremony also saw the induction of basketball coach Tim Brady, whose 21 years of involvement in the sport in the Yukon saw many milestones for the sport, including the first wins at national competitions for a Yukon team and even a gold in boys’ basketball at the 2000 Arctic Winter Games.
“I think it’s a great honour; I’m trilled to receive that award and have that recognition,” said Brady. “I know that I’m joining some great company there – some former inductees – so I’m thrilled with it.”
For her efforts as race secretary at the Haywood Cross-Country Ski Nationals, Whitehorse’s Susan Tinevez was named Administrator of the Year.
“The nationals were put together by a team of people who met for two years – to put together the whole event,” said Tinevez. “I really feel like I’m accepting the award on behalf of that whole team. It was an honour to be part of that team and it was an amazing event.”
The Haywood meet saw about 400 skiers descend on Whitehorse trails in March. It was the first time in more than two decades that Whitehorse hosted a national level cross-country ski event.
ACTIVE MEMBER AWARDS
Special Olympics Yukon
Jessica Pruden – Athlete of the Year
Marvin Hall – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Gary Chaplin – Sportsperson of the Year
Leah Greenway – Heather Miller Award for Volunteerism
Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club
Tom Fairman – Trailworker of the Year
Beth Hawkings – Club Event Volunteer of the Year
Angela Sabo – Ski Club “Skier” of the Year
Susan Tinevez – Administrator of the Year
Whitehorse Glacier Bears
Alexandra Gabor – Swimmer of the Year
Judi Kellington – Volunteer of the Year
Cassis Lindsay – Glacier Bears Development Award
Adrian Robinson – Glacier Bears Development Award
Erin McArthur – Glacier Bears Junior Award
Haley Braga – Glacier Bears Junior Award
Bronwyn Pasloski – Glacier Bears Senior Award
Isabel Parkkari – Glacier Bears Senior Award
Table Tennis Yukon
Ryan Bachli – Athlete of the Year
Syed Mustafa – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Edna Knight – Sportsperson of the Year
Joyce Bachli – Volunteer of the Year
Yukon Gymnastics Association
Kelcie Henney – Athlete of the Year
Megan Banks – Most Sportsmanlike Athlete
Andrew Christ – Highest Scoring Male at Yukon Championships
Fayne O’Donovan – Highest Scoring Female at Yukon Championships
Yukon Amateur Speed Skating Association
Heather Clarke – Athlete of the Year
Caius Taggart-Cox – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Emily Klassen – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Solon MacDougall – Most Dedicated Athlete of the Year
Northern Novas – Synchro Yukon
Taylor Hanna – Athlete of the Year
Olivia Duncan – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Aura-Lea Harper – Sports Person of the Year
Alexandra Gabor – Athlete of the Year
Mary Anne Myers – Mature Athlete of the Year
Isabel Parkkari – Junior Athlete of the Year
Haley Braga – Junior Athlete of the Year
Cross Country Yukon
Jean-Francois Blouin – Male Coach of the Year
Carolyn Coombs – Female Coach of the Year
Katie Peters – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Devon Hanson – Female Athlete of the Year
Robyn Fortune – Most Improved Female Athlete of the Year
Shannon Thompson – Female Sportsperson of the Year
Cheryl Keleher – Volunteer of the Year
Logan Boehmer – Male Athlete of the Year
Jake Jacobs – Most Improved Male Athlete of the Year
Soleil Stimson – Male Sportsperson of the Year
Peter Hanson – Male Sportsperson of the Year
Tayler Mitchell – Athlete of the Year
Kaitlynn Mitchell – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Lyndsey Boorse – Sportsperson of the Year
Eugene Hawes – Volunteer of the Year
R.P.A.Y. Recognition Award
Kieran Halliday – Junior Male Athlete of the Year
Sara Burke-Forsythe – Junior Female Athlete of the Year
David Kalles – Master Runner of the Year
Margaret Mundell – Volunteer of the Year
Ruth Hall – Walker of the Year
Dan MacDonald – Most Improved Runner of the Year
Susan Dennehy – Most Improved Walker of the Year
Yukon Badminton Association
Vanessa Carlson – Athlete of the Year
Francis Belanger – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Janice Carlson – Volunteer of the Year
Jennifer Curtis – Athlete of the Year
Erin Oliver-Beebe – Athlete of the Year
Alejandro Peters – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Jakov Tokic – Sportsperson of the Year
Bill Curtis – Volunteer of the Year
Anna Jacobson – Sportsperson of the Year
Julien Revel – Volunteer of the Year
Kelly Panchyshyn – Sportsperson of the Year
Adam Sipple – Volunteer of the Year
Yukon Orienteering Association
Pia Blake – Athlete of the Year
Trevor Bray – Most Improved Athlete of the Year
Caelan McLean – Sportsperson of the Year
Barbara Scheck – Volunteer of the Year
Yukon Shooting Federation
Danielle Marcotte – Female Shooter of the Year
Nicholas Rittel – Male Shooter of the Year
John Simmons – Most Improved Shooter of the Year
Contact Tom Patrick at