Despite having one of the smallest populations in Canada, every year Yukon athletes leave their mark on the national, North American and even international sports scene.
2011 was no exception.
During the past 12 months, a cyclist and a junior musher become international champions and a cross-country skier became a North American race-circuit champion. An air-pistol shooter from Pelly Crossing become a national champion and won two of the Yukon’s five medals at the Canada Winter Games.
Even at home in the Yukon we had local orienteerers cleaning house at both the Western and Canadian Orienteering Championships, back-to-back events hosted in and around Whitehorse.
The following is a look back at another spectacular year of Yukon sports.
Shortly after Silver Bells faded from the radio airwaves, a pair of local hockey teams were winning silver medals in B.C.
Yukon’s representative boys team, which would go on to represent the territory at the Canada Winter Games, began the year with silver in the AA division of the 30th annual Richmond International Midget Hockey Tournament.
The Northern Avalanche girls’ hockey team – now the Female Mustangs – took silver at the Angels on Ice AA hockey tournament in Langley, B.C.
Team BC had a little help from its northern neighbour at the annual Pacific Coast All Star meet in Gresham, Oregon. Breaking into the top-eight twice, and helping propel Team BC to a fourth-place finish, was Whitehorse Glacier Bears swimmer Erin McArthur, competing in her first international event. McArthur took sixth in the 50-metre and seventh in the 100-metre breaststroke events for girls 12-and-under.
Heartbreak also came early. The Yukon came within 0.4 seconds of being represented at the Nordic World Ski Championships when Whitehorse’s Graham Nishikawa missed by a hair of making the team in a 30-kilometre pursuit race at a Haywood NorAm trials in Thunder Bay, Ont.
But he did take silver and won another silver in a 15-kilometre skate race. Sister Emily Nishikawa snatched gold in the 10-kilometre pursuit, silver in the sprint and fourth in the 10-kilometre skate.
Whitehorse’s Janelle Greer, who was in the junior women division, won silver in the sprint race while brother David snagged silver in the 15-kilometre skate race in the U-23 division.
In a particularly cold installment of the Alcan 200 Road Rally international snowmobile race, Whitehorse’s Jarrid Davy fought frostbite to win the 651cc-open class. Another strong finish came from Ross King of Whitehorse placing second in the 441-550cc liquid class.
Three-and-a-half minutes is all that separated Crispin Studer from a fourth-straight title at the 17th annual Carbon Hill Dogsled Race at the Lorne Mountain Community Centre. Taking the top prize in the event’s most prestigious race, the 30-mile, six-to-eight dog sled race, was Normand Casavant.
January saw Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell move into the world’s No. 1 ranking. For the first time in his career, Bell reached the top of the heap, securing the UCI Track Cycling top ranking. Pushing him to the top of the standings was a silver in the omnium at the 2011 UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Beijing.
Bell would go on to maintain the position to the end of the race series to become the UCI Track World Cup champion.
Getting the ball rolling in what turned out to be a big year, Pelly Crossing sisters Danielle and Kyley Marcotte excelled at the 2011 Canadian Grande Prix air-gun competition in Toronto. The two brought home five medals, including a gold in the team event.
The Whitehorse Atom Mustangs showed some true grit to begin the year. The rep team pulled off three come-from-behind wins on their way to a bronze at the 33rd annual Lloyd Head Atom Tournament in Grande Prairie, Alta.
As if it wasn’t enough to have two Whitehorse skiers on the 10-person national team, locals Janelle Greer and Emily Nishikawa also led the way in a few races at the World Junior & U23 Championships, in Otepaa, Estonia. The two cross-country skiers returned with top-20 performances, reaching the status of top Canadian for their division in some events.
In the Yukon Arctic Ultra, Whitehorse’s Denise McHale was the first woman to win the marathon division since it was first offered in 2004. She also set a new course record, completing the journey from Whitehorse to Rivendell Farm in three hours and 14 minutes. Husband Greg went on to win the 690-kilometre race all the way to Dawson, also setting a course record.
Whitehorse Arctic Edge skater Kelcy Armstrong took second in introductory interpretive at the WinterSkate in Delta, B.C. That earned her a spot for the first time at the Pacific STARSkate Championships in March in Cranbrook, B.C.
There was another close finish for skier Graham Nishikawa. The national team member had to settle with silver in the senior men’s division of the Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships in Kelowna, outpaced by 0.3 seconds in the final 15-kilometre pursuit.
For the first time this millennium, a Yukon junior curling team returned from the nationals without a losing record. Competing at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Championships in Calgary, the team, headed by skip Sarah Koltun, went 6-6 for an even .500 record, finishing in a tie for seventh.
The previous team to leave the nationals without a losing record was Nicole Baldwin’s, producing a 6-6 record in 1999. Joining Koltun on the team was third Chelsea Duncan, second Linea Eby, lead Jenna Duncan and coach Lindsay Moldowan.
In the Canada Winter Games’ 44-year history, not once had a territorial hockey team – boys’ or girls’- beat a province. Until this past February. Team Yukon’s boys’ squad made history by defeating Team Newfoundland and Labrador 2-1 in Dartmouth, across the harbour from Halifax.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s a great feeling to get the win,” said Yukon captain Matt McCarthy. “We really grinded it out and it felt good.”
Skiing at the Eastern Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships in Cantley, Quebec, Graham Nishikawa and sister Emily, outpaced the competition over the three-day, mini-tour event to win gold in their open divisions.
By winning at the Easterns, Graham finished the Haywood NorAm season series in first place for the third consecutive year. As a result, Graham earned Canada’s spot at the World Cup events in Scandinavia.
Back at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax, Pelly Crossing’s Danielle and Kyley Marcotte won gold in the women’s air pistol team event for the Yukon’s first medal of the Games. Danielle later won a second gold medal in the individual women’s air pistol event, leaving three Games records in her wake.
Years younger than most of their competition, which included national team members, Yukon’s female biathletes posted top-20 results for the third straight race at the Canada Winter Games north of Halifax. Yukon’s Erin Oliver-Beebe and Jennifer Curtis, both of whom are eligible for the next Winter Games, finished 11th and 16th respectively in the 10-kilometre pursuit. Not only did Oliver-Beebe finish in the top-20 in all her races, she improved each time out, taking 15th in the 7.5-kilometre and 19th in the 12.5 individual race.
Yukon freestyle skier Miguel Rodden landed in the finals of the aerial event, eventually taking sixth.
With wins over Ontario, P.E.I. and Newfoundland Yukon’s Team Koltun came fifth in the curling.
Team Yukon’s Bryn Hoffman finished sixth in the pre-novice female short program, the best finish for a figure skater at the Games since 2003.
Snowboarder Max Melvin-McNutt, who is now on B.C.‘s provincial team, finished in eighth in the half-pipe for his team’s best finish.
Emily Nishikawa single-handedly doubled Yukon’s medal count, winning three medals – gold, silver and bronze – beginning with a gold in the 7.5-kilometre free.
After being shut out 53-0 in their first three match-ups at the Canada Games, Yukon’s female hockey team scored their first goal, on their first shot of the game with just 1.9 seconds left in the third period against Nova Scotia. At the final buzzer Team Yukon was quite possibly the happiest team ever to lose 12-1.
Making up lost ground, Yukon’s synchronized swim team of Taylor Hanna and Simone Kitchen moved up 10 spots in the final competition to finish 10th at the Canada Games.
Far from the excitement of the Games in Halifax, Yukon’s Rachel Kinvig was setting a record at the Junior World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage. The junior musher not only set a new course record at the championships, she won gold in the five-dog, six-mile class, and produced the fastest time in each of the three races to win overall.
At the Yukon Quest International Dog Sled Race, rookie Dallas Seavey of Willow, Alaska, won his first Quest, just nine minutes ahead of former champ Sebastian Schnuelle. In third was veteran Ken Anderson. Seavey completed the 1,600-kilometre journey in 10 days, 12 hours and 59 minutes.
Whitehorse biathlete Erin Oliver-Beebe was on target to end the season in March. Oliver-Beebe first won two gold medals at the Western Canadian Biathlon Championships in Camrose, Alta. She then won a bronze in the senior girls’ 7.5-kilometre pursuit at the Canadian Biathlon Championships in New Brunswick. It was the Yukon’s first medal at the nationals since 1997.
Whitehorse Glacier Bear Isabel Parkkari collected hardware at the B.C. AAA Provincial Championships in Victoria. Parkkari captured silver in the 800-metre freestyle, silver in the 400-metre freestyle and bronze in the 400-metre individual medley.
Just a couple weeks after becoming a world champion, junior musher Rachel Kinvig won gold in the four-dog and silver in the six-dog events at the 2011 Junior North American Championship in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Whitehorse cross-country skiers won six medals at the 2011 Haywood Ski Nationals in Canmore, Alta. Among the medal winners were Emily Nishikawa, Dahria Beatty, Kendra Murray and Janelle Greer.
Cyclist Zach Bell finished sixth at the 2011 UCI Track World Championships in the Netherlands. Bell failed to win a medal just a month after becoming the UCI Track World Cup champion.
The Mustangs’ midget A team had the greatest success of Whitehorse’s representative teams at the B.C. Provincial Hockey Championships. The team took bronze at the Tier 3 level in Cranbrook, B.C.
There was some high flying action at the Yukon Snowboard Championships at Mt. Sima. Whitehorse’s Tim Schirmer came first in junior boys division, ahead of brother Sam Schirmer in second and Pelly Vincent-Braun finished in third.
The same day Whitehorse’s Miguel Rodden defended his title at the Yukon Freestyle Ski Championships at Mt. Sima.
The Whitehorse Atom Mustangs went undefeated over five games en route to a gold in Tier 3 of the fifth annual Victoria Ice Hawks Atom Development Tournament in Victoria, B.C.
March also saw the beginning a comeback that could lead to the 2012 London Olympic Games. In her first competition since 2009, Jeane Lassen came out of retirement to win silver in the women’s 75-kilogram division of the Western Canadian Championship in Richmond, B.C. She only had spent a few weeks training for the event.
Junior skiers Fabian Brook and Kendra Murray nabbed the Gordon Taylor Award for the fastest open-category times at the Yukon Cross-Country Ski Championships.
Yukon skiers carved out a total of seven medals at the B.C. North Zone Alpine Finals in Smithers. Abby Hawes won gold in the giant slalom and two silvers in two other slalom races. Yukon teammate Tayler Mitchell also made three trips to the podium, winning silver in the giant slalom and bronzes in the two slalom events. Katie Vowk, in her first races outside of the Yukon, snagged a silver in the giant slalom.
At the end of a remarkable season, junior musher Rachel Kinvig won the Tok Junior Race of Champions and the junior equivalent of Alaska’s Triple Crown after previous wins at the junior world and North American championships earlier in the season.
Whitehorse’s Arctic Edge Figure Skating Club sliced through the competition at the Vancouver Island Skate International in Parksville, B.C. With a dozen team members in attendance, Arctic Edge took in nine medals, four fourth-place finishes and gold and silver ribbons in performance programs, for the club’s best performance at the competition.
Ryan Bachli defeated his coach Kevin Murphy in the open singles final of the Yukon Table Tennis Championships. Bachli also won the doubles title with partner Alex Zheng.
Watson Lake siblings Jason and Vanessa Carlson were again at the top at the Yukon Badminton Championships. The multiple-time champions captured the men’s and women’s singles titles.
Whitehorse freestyle kayaker Joel Brennan was already riding waves at the Level Six Capital Cup in Ottawa. Brennan dropped a spot in the standings after slipping off the wave in the final, but still finished second in the junior pro category.
There are a total of 25 spots available on Canada’s national cross-country ski teams, counting both senior and junior, and Yukoners were named to five of them. That’s more than BC and Ontario combined.
Cross Country Canada announced that siblings Graham and Emily Nishikawa were selected for the senior team while fellow Whitehorse skiers Dahria Beatty, Janelle Greer and Knute Johnsgaard were invited back onto the junior squad.
After three years of Julien Revel dominating, there was a new champion at the 2011 Squash Yukon Open. Whitehorse’s Jason Jobin went undefeated for his first A division title, beating Abel Chua 15-12, 14-16, 15-7, 15-5 in the final.
Glacier Bear Isabel Parkkari was back to her winning ways at the Keyano International Swim Meet in Edmonton. Parkkari won five of the Whitehorse club’s six medals at the meet. Producing the Bears’ sixth medal was teammate Haley Braga, taking bronze in the 200-metre butterfly in girls 13-14.
As always, there were some burning legs at the end of the VeloNorth Cycling Club’s annual Skagway Hill Climb in Skagway, Alaska. For the second year in a row, Whitehorse’s Tamara Goeppel won the 19-kilometre time trial race from Skagway to the White Pass Summit, climbing roughly 1,000 metres in altitude, breaking her own expert-women record set last year. In expert men, former course record holder Ian Parker came in with the fastest time for first.
Continuing her comeback, weightlifter Jeane Lassen won silver at the 2011 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships in Scarborough, Ont. The former Olympian, who only came out of retirement a couple months prior, took second in the women’s 75-kilogram division by lifting a combined 202 kilograms.
Marsh Lake’s Mary Anne Myers swam at one meet in the season and she made it count. Myers took four golds, a silver and set a national age-group record in the women’s 55-59 division at the Canadian Masters Swimming Championship in Montreal. For the accomplishment, Myers was given Sport Yukon’s National/Territorial Female Athlete of the Year in December.
Whitehorse spouses Greg and Denise McHale were the fastest in their divisions, topping a field of 22 participants at the Yukon Energy Haeckel Hill Run. Denise set a new female record for her climb, reaching the top in 41 minutes and 18 seconds. Greg, who also won the event in 2007, completed the 6.1-kilometre race in 38:45, almost five minutes short of the record set by the Yukon’s new MP Ryan Leef in 2003.
To end the month Whitehorse native Mackenzie Downing won a gold medal in the 200-metre butterfly at the Mel Zajac Jr. International. The Vancouver meet is one of the biggest meets on Canada’s swim calendar. She also came fourth in the 100-fly.
Whitehorse’s Karl Blattmann began his triathlon career on the right foot in June. In his first triathlon, Blattmann won the Olympic distance category of the 2011 Whitehorse Triathlon. He finished with a time of two hours, 10 minutes and five seconds, almost nine minutes ahead of second place Judson Deuling.
The Olympic women’s division also saw a new champion crowned. Whitehorse’s Maura Sullivan took first with a time of 2:30:14, 31 seven minutes up from Kerrie Paterson in second and 11 minutes up from Laura Salmon in third.
Polarettes Gym Club’s Fayne O’Donovan won gold in the Level 3 division at the Yukon Gymnastics Championships, ahead of teammates Lilyanne Gale and Mackenzie Davy in third. Polarettes’ Reena Coyne came first in three events to take gold in Level 2, while Jasmine Bergeron and Gracie Ekholm won Level 1 divisions.
Though technically not a sport, there were medals won at the Skills Canada National Competition in Quebec City. For the first time Skills Yukon won two gold medals in one year, also taking in two silvers. For both the two Yukon gold winners, Denis Godin and Nathan Peterson, it’s their third consecutive medal at the nationals.
Godin, who won in mechanical computer-assisted drafting, captured the Yukon’s first-ever gold at the nationals in 2009. Paterson’s gold came in heavy-duty mechanics, adding to a gold from last year and a bronze in 2009.
The Mayo Marathon got a couple new champs in June. First across the line in the marathon distance was Whitehorse’s Petr Polivka, moving up from a fifth-place finish the previous year. Taking second and third were Whitehorse runners Leo Lobbestael and Daniel Atkin. The women’s marathon winner was Cynthia Witman from Washington, who has run more than 100 marathons in her career. Taking second was Whitehorse’s Kristi Bane.
Yukon teams won seven of 11 divisions at the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay. While Skagway captured the mixed eight-person category – the race’s largest division – Whitehorse riders won both the prestigious solo categories for the first time in six years. Taking the wins – riding the full 238-kilometre course solo – were VeloNorth cyclists Stephen Ball and Trena Irving, both coming within minutes of course records.
Whitehorse’s Joel Brennan represented Canada in the junior division of the World Freestyle Kayak Championships. The 17-year-old was eliminated in an early round, finishing 26th out of 34 paddlers on the Isar River in Plattling, Germany.
Quickdraw John Simmons was again turning heads at the Alaska Speed Shooting Championships near Fairbanks. The only Canadian at the competition, Simmons was on aim – and fast – enroute to a first-place finish in the open division and a second in the shoot-off, the reverse of his results last year.
Two Yukoners – both Watson Lake natives – were leaving much of the competition in the dust at the 2011 Canadian National Road Championships in the Toronto area. Olympian Zach Bell and Jesse Reams cycled to top-10 finishes, with the former winning a bronze in the road race.
Seven Glacier Bears brought home 16 medals from the B.C. AA Long Course Championships in Kelowna. Adrian Robinson secured two golds, a silver and a bronze in the 11-and-under division. Teammate Craig Berube, swimming in the boys 14-and-under division, raced to a gold and three silvers. In girls 12-and-under, Dannica Nelson took silver and bronze and Taylor Harvey won silver in 11-and-under girls.
There was plenty of intensity at the Bob Park Fastpitch Tournament at the end of the month. Whitehorse’s Roadhouse Giants narrowly defeated the visiting Inuvik Huskies14-12.
The largest field of voyageur canoes in Yukon River Quest history was not enough to dethrone the Texans in the race from Whitehorse to Dawson. For the third-straight year, the Texan team was first into Dawson City, capturing their fourth title in five years. It won the 2007 Quest under the name Coureur des Bayou.
Winning the mixed voyageur category, and giving the Texans a run for their money, was Whitehorse’s Sausages&Mussels; team featuring Justin Wallace, Verena Koenig, Philippe Mouchet, Joanie Pelletier and Cynthia Corriveau.
Snowboarding phenom Max Melvin-McNutt celebrated the nation’s birthday by winning the advanced division of Whitehorse’s Canada Day Skate Competition at the Second Heaven skate park in Riverdale.
Cyclists Darryl Hansell and Trena Irving did not win every stage, but their combined times were quick enough for the expert titles in the Tour de Whitehorse.
Whitehorse’s Jonah Clark won his third title at the fifth annual Dry-Tri duathlon. First-time competitor Kelly Proudfoot, in town to help organize the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, won the solo women’s division.
A month after winning the Whitehorse Triathlon, Karl Blattmann came 10th at the Osoyoos Desert Half Iron Man Triathlon in Kelowna, B.C.
Every putt counted at the 2011 Yukon Golf Championships at Mountain View Golf Club. Phil Mullin won his fourth Yukon men’s title by one stroke while Birgitte Hunter also narrowly won her third straight women’s title.
July was a big month for orienteering. In back-to-back weekends, the Yukon hosted the Western Canadian Orienteering Championships and then the Canadian Orienteering Championships.
Yukoners won 38 medals at the Westerns and 37 at the nationals. Yukoners Pia Blake and Caelan McLean each went undefeated in both, capturing six gold medals in six races for their divisions. Teammates Kendra Murray and Lee Hawkings also were successful, winning six medals over the two weekends.
Whitehorse’s Stephen Waterreus won his fourth-consecutive Midnight Dome Race during the Dawson City Music Festival. The top female was Whitehorse’s Chantal Gagne, coming eighth overall in the 7.2-kilometre race up the Dome Road, climbing 564 metres in elevation.
Whitehorse cyclist Mike McCann raced his way to winning the 60-64 age group at the Grand Forks Masters Weekend, part of the BC Masters series, in Grand Forks, B.C. The VeloNorth rider defended his title from last year with slightly faster times.
John Simmon’s gun was on aim enough to put the Whitehorse shooter into the top half of his division at the 2011 IPSC Canadian National Championships in Kingston, Ont. Competing in the open category, Simmons shot his way to 25th out of more than 65 of the country’s best.
On the topic of shooting, Danielle Marcotte competed at the first ever Youth Olympics in Singapore. Marcotte took fourth in the 10-metre air pistol.
Whitehorse Glacier Bear Haley Braga was the only Yukon swimmer out of 1,700 of the nation’s best at the Canadian Age Group Championships in Montreal. Braga set two club records and swam to 16th in the 200-metre butterfly for her best finish.
Running sensation Denise McHale was again on top at the Yukon River Trail Marathon while Mike Richards won for the men. In the half distance divisions, Catherine Lamarche won for the women and Karl Blattmann for the men.
Pelly Crossing sisters Danielle and Kyley Marcotte picked off medals at the Canadian National Pistol Championships in Calgary. Competing in junior women’s 10-metre air pistol shooting event, Kyley won the bronze while Danielle won gold, taking back Canada’s top ranking in her division.
The Yukon didn’t capture any medals at the Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, B.C., but there was plenty to be happy about.
The boys basketball team ended the Games with a nail-biter against rivals N.W.T. The team logged their strongest performance in a 60-59 win over N.W.T. to end the Games in fifth.
Also at the Games, both the Yukon boys and girls soccer teams defeated N.W.T. to take fifth.
A few Yukon swimmers made the finals at the Games. Erin McArthur, Kirsten Berube, and Haley Braga each swam in two finals. Josh Kelly placed sixth in the 100-metre breaststroke final for the Yukon’s strongest finish.
In what was both their first Outside bout and first club sanction bout, the Yukon Roller Girls defeated the Oil City Derby Girls’ rookie team 187-127 in Edmonton. Eighteen Yukon Roller Girls made the trip, including two coaches, two referees and 14 skaters.
There were repeat winners at the Yukon Territorial Tennis Championships. Tennis Yukon head coach Jan Polivka defeated Kieran Halliday for his third men’s title. For the second year in a row, Whitehorse’s Laurie Drummond was a three-title winner, taking the women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles titles.
Yukon swimmer Mackenzie Downing competed at her third World University Games in China. Downing made the finals of the 200-metre butterfly, her strongest event.
Less than a year after opening its doors, Whitehorse gym Avalanche MMA won all four of its amateur bouts at Warpath Mixed Martial Arts in Chilliwack, B.C. Taking in the mixed martial arts gym’s first wins were TJ Woodman, Cliff Schultz, Miller Rogers and Stefan Brynolfsson.
Whitehorse pistol shooter John Simmons took in his first trophy at the International Practical Shooting Confederation BC Provincial Championship in Port Coquitlam, B.C. Simmons shot his way to second place in the open B division and 13th overall.
In their first bout at home, called the Klondike Klash, the Yukon Roller Girls defeated the visiting Fairbanks Rollergirls 159-104 at the Takhini Broomball Arena. Perhaps even more exciting for the Yukon crew was the turnout, selling out and reaching the arena’s capacity limit of 749.
At the Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay, Whitehorse’s Scarecrow team defended their open title from last year, winning every leg in their category and five overall in the 176.5-kilometre race from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse. The previous year Scarecrow became the first Yukon – and first Canadian – team to win the open division at the relay since 1993.
Former Mountain View club pro Graham Frey swung his one club less than anyone to win the 15th annual One Club Wonder at Mountain View Golf Club. With a 7-iron as his choice of weapon, Frey won the low gross category with an 86 to take his first golden cardigan, the tournament’s answer to the Green Jacket of the Masters.
The Yukon Cross Country Championship offered tough, new courses for runners this year. After battling the steep climbs, Whitehorse runners Ray Sabo and Maura Sullivan took first in the open men and open women divisions.
Motorbike riders put their bodies and machines to the test in the Stinky Lake Hare Scrambles No. 2, the second event of the newly-formed Yukon Cross Country Motorcycle Association. The top three expert class riders each completed five trips through the 15-kilometre course, but crossing the finish in front for first was Shawn McFarland. Taking second was Leroy Wolfe ahead of third place’s Justin Kolla, winner of the first Stinky Lake scramble in August. The ladies’ division saw Susie Rogan, who also topped her division in the first scramble, winning with four laps of the 10-kilometre B loop.
A goal, a win and a shutout. Those were three achievements the Yukon Strikers U-14 girls took back from the soccer nationals for the first time.
Placing second last ahead of P.E.I., the Strikers finished the nationals, taking place in Newfoundland, with a 1-0 win over the hosting Mount Pearl club. Getting the game-winner was Mikaela Ponsioen, tucking the ball just inside the post from 20 yards out. The Strikers’ win, which was the first ever for the Yukon for U-14 girls, was also the first-ever shutout with Sandy Dubois in net for the Yukon.
After going scoreless in four matches, the Yukon Strikers U-14 boys had little difficulty finding the back of the net to end the National Championships in Newfoundland. The Strikers avoided last place with a decisive 10-0 win over N.W.T.
Three Whitehorse athletes competed at the 25th annual World Senior Games in St. George, Utah and none left empty-handed. Cyclists Michael McCann and Bill Curtis, and athletics competitor Tom Parlee, collected a total of six medals.
A handful of Yukon runners produced top-10 finishes for their age division at the Victoria Marathon. Whitehorse’s Logan Roots finished 18th out of 5,147 runners in the half marathon distance at one hour, 17 minutes and 46 seconds. His time put him in first for males under 19. The next Yukoner over the line was Simon Lapointe at 1:20:50, coming 41st overall and fifth for males 35-39. Following Lapointe was first-time competitor in Victoria, Tom Ullyett, finishing 109th overall and seventh for males 50-54. Despite running with a foot injury, Keith Thaxter was the fastest Yukoner in the marathon with a time of 3:07:47, putting him in 86th overall and ninth for males 45-49. Age categories aside, Whitehorse’s Bonnie Love was out in front for walkers, finishing first overall in the half marathon at 2:22:14.
Barely a month after his first amateur victory, Avalanche MMA’s Miller Rogers got a first-round submission win at Caged Rage 5, a mixed martial arts competition in Castlegar, B.C.
The Vanier Crusaders senior boys volleyball team shocked some opponents at the Lindsay Thurber Varsity Volleyball Tournament in Red Deer, Alta. During the round-robin of the tournament, the Crusaders downed the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked high school teams in all of Alberta on their way to a fourth-place finish.
The Crusaders – junior and senior teams – won three of four high school divisions at the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament at the end of the month. Porter Creek Rams’ junior girls prevented the sweep by winning their division.
The Yukon is fast becoming a premier mountain bike destination, with good reason. In early November the International Mountain Bicycling Association announced it had inducted the Mountain Hero Trail on Montana Mountain in Carcross into its Epic Trails category. It is only the fifth Canadian trail to achieve the designation.
“To me, I just won the Nobel Prize for trail building,” said Carcross’ Wayne Roberts, who worked for years resurrecting the trail. It is believed that the trail follows what used to be a tramway for an old quartz-mining operation that dates back to 1905. Sam McGee, whom Robert Service immortalized in a poem, is believed to have led the crew of 20 men who first constructed it.
Squash Yukon’s first-ever Women’s Tournament saw a good turnout and concluded with an exciting final with two territorial champs facing off. In the A division final, 2010 Yukon women’s champ Terri Cairns narrowly defeated 2009 Yukon B division champ Lia Johnson 9-15, 16-14, 15-11, 10-15, 15-13.
The Fort St. John Flyers, last year’s peewee Tier 2 Alberta champions, had the Whitehorse Peewee Mustangs’ number at the Fort St. John Flyers Peewee Tier 2 Tournament in Alberta. However, despite two losses to the Alberta champs, the Mustangs captured silver in the tourney.
Simply put, the Cinderwood Midget Mustangs smoked the competition at the Abbotsford Midget Memorial 2011 Tournament in B.C. The Whitehorse rep team was never in a losing situation and racked up high-scoring victories en route to winning the Tier 3 tournament.
Weightlifter Jeane Lassen finished 15th in the women’s 75-kilogram division at the 2011 IWF World Championships at Paris Disneyland, France. At the championships, which were an Olympic qualifier, Lassen lifted 97 kilograms in the snatch and 123 in the clean and jerk for a total of 220. (Final Olympic team selection will take place after the national championships next summer.)
A couple weeks later, Lassen was out-lifting the competition at the Alberta Weightlifting Championships in Edmonton. The 31-year-old hoisted 95 kilograms in the snatch and 120 in the clean and jerk to win gold in the women’s 75-kilogram division.
Arctic Edge skaters Michelle Gorczyca, Rachel Pettitt, Bryn Hoffman and Amelia Austin gave strong performances to capture top-10 results at the Skate Canada’s BC/YT Sectional Championships in Kelowna, B.C. Skating in the pre-novice women’s division for the first time at Sectionals, Arctic Edge’s Rachel Pettitt finished seventh and Bryn Hoffman ninth. It’s the best the club has done at the competition as a whole.
With a blanket of fresh snow on the ground in Whitehorse, golf wasn’t on most people’s minds mid-November. However, three local golfers were getting results at the Navigator ProAm in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mountain View club pro Jeff Wiggins and club members Terry DeForrest and Dan Jordan finished second among 25 other teams from throughout western Canada. Wiggins also had some success on the pro side of the tournament, finishing third overall, one stroke behind two players who tied for first and went into a playoff.
The following weekend Wiggins capped the season, tying for 20th at the Titleist & FootJoy Club Professional Championship of Canada at the PGA Golf Club’s Ryder Course in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
It took a couple games for results to materialize, but the Whitehorse Female Midget Mustangs reached full gallop at the second annual Wickenheiser Hockey Festival tournament in Burnaby, B.C. Playing in its first tournament of the season – and its first ever as part of Whitehorse’s representative hockey club – the Mustangs went 2-2 to capture fourth, bouncing back from opening with a pair of losses.
The Vanier Crusaders volleyball teams won the senior and junior divisions at the Yukon Volleyball Championships. The two senior teams didn’t drop a match in the Yukon over the season, winning the Dawson Invitational, the high school Super Volley Championships and then the Yukon Championships.
Dawson’s Robert Service School Knights, made up entirely of Grade 7 students, won the Grade 8 boys division of the championships.
Team Yukon’s men’s rink, from the Whitehorse Curling Club, went 3-3 to place seventh out of 14 at the Dominion Curling Club Championship in Richmond, B.C. It was the best finish ever for a Yukon team at the bonspiel.
“We’re quite happy with how we did and we’re very much looking forward to, hopefully, going again,” said skip Scott Hamilton.
Watson Lake’s Zach Bell was at the top of his game at the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Colombia. The national team member and defending World Cup track champion took silver in the multi-event omnium, posting personal best times in all three timed events.
It was Miller time at Warpath 3 in Chilliwack, B.C. at the start of the month. Whitehorse’s Miller Rogers gave Avalanche MMA its only victory at the mixed martial arts event, taking his third-straight amateur win by submission to remain undefeated.
“I was happy that I won. I’m proud of myself.,” said Rogers. “I stuck to my game plan … I was going to go in there, get in a fight and I was going to win. And that’s exactly what I did.”
The Whitehorse Bantam Mustangs had some slow starts at the Kelowna Minor Hockey Tournament. However, the representative hockey team twice overcame losing situations to reach the semi-final, tying for third out of 12 teams, at the tier 3 and 4 tournament.
December also marked the start of the Haywood NorAm Race Series.
Dahria Beatty and Knute Johnsgaard, both members of the junior national team, each medalled twice at the NorAm season opener at the Sovereign Lakes Nordic Centre, near Vernon. Competing in the junior category, Beatty, 17, raced to silver in a 1.2-kilometre sprint and then gold in the 10-kilometre distance race. Johnsgaard, 19, also in the junior category, won silver both days, beginning in the 1.4-kilometre sprint and then in the 15-kilometre distance event. All races were in classic technique.
Switching to skate technique in the second NorAm event, Johnsgaard won two gold medals while Beatty won gold in a 10-kilometre skate. Yukon teammate Janelle Greer won a bronze medal both days – for sprint and the distance race.
For the second Olympic Games in a row, Watson Lake wrestler Brittanee Laverdure is first-alternate in her weight class for Canada’s Olympic team. Laverdure finished second, missing the one available spot at the 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials in Winnipeg. She is not sure if she will commit to the position.
Swimmer MacKenzie Downing won gold and silver at the B.C. Senior Championships over the weekend in Vancouver. Downing won her gold the 200-metre butterfly. Having completed her studies at the University of Victoria, Downing is officially a Whitehorse Glacier Bear again.
Contact Tom Patrick at