Greenland’s national sport is soccer, but badminton isn’t far behind in terms of popularity.
The autonomous nation within the Kingdom of Denmark – one of the founding countries of the Badminton World Federation in 1934 – has swept the gold medals at the last two Arctic Winter Games.
Peter Toth, head coach of Yukon’s badminton team, has no misconceptions of how hard it will be to stop that trend as Greenland hosts the Games this March in Nuuk.
“When you play against Denmark (Greenland), where badminton started, you’re always going to be challenged to play those kids,” said Toth. “They have full-on facilities, they have the coaching from Denmark, they fly to Denmark.
“I think for us, it’s not going to be about finishing first taking gold, it’s going to be looking at last Arctics and improving on that.”
Yukon badminton teams won ulus (medals) at the Games in 2008, 2010 and 2012, but left empty-handed at the 2014 Games in Fairbanks, Alaska.
If they don’t win any medals this time, they could get another shot in two years. All eight members of the team are young enough to compete again at the 2018 Games in Hay River/Fort Smith, N.W.T.
“Our focus has been purely to take these kids the next two years and work with them,” said Toth.
Nora Vincent-Braun and Prism Saswirsky will compete in junior female; Lukas Kobler and Marek Boulerice in junior male; Abby Cuenza and Casey Mooney in juvenile female; and Karl Knickle and Michael Betts in juvenile male.
All of them are from Whitehorse except Betts, who is from Dawson City.
Kobler is the only one on the team who has represented Yukon in badminton at a previous major Games – the Western Canada Summer Games this past August in Alberta.
“I’m excited – it’s Greenland, right,” said Kobler. “As for playing, it’s a big challenge. The Greenland guys are really good. We have a fighting chance against a few of the contingents, but most of them are quite up there. It’s a struggle to be in the game, but you learn a lot, it’s a lot of fun. It’s an opportunity.”
“When we play a team like Greenland, ultimately it’s going to be about finding a way to improve against those guys, not about trying to beat them,” added Toth.
Contact Tom Patrick at