Big air gets big results for Yukon boarder

Winning medals at the Arctic Winter Games is nothing new to Yukon's Kayla Hallonquist, but winning one on a snowboard certainly is.

Grande Prairie, Alberta

Winning medals at the Arctic Winter Games is nothing new to Yukon’s Kayla Hallonquist, but winning one on a snowboard certainly is.

The 16-year-old is currently in Grande Prairie, Alberta, competing in her fourth Arctic Games, where she won a bronze medal in the snowboard slopestyle competition in the juvenile females division Monday.

In her previous trips to the Arctic Games, Hallonquist was a figure skater, winning a total of six medals, including one gold.

“I wanted to give myself another challenge,” she said. “And there’s different people to meet and, competition-wise, it’s a lot different.

“I was actually quite surprised; it was shocking because it was my first time and I wasn’t expecting much out of it. But it was good and I’m happy with it.”

With only the best of four runs counting towards final placements, Hallonquist was clean on the rails and performed a big-air method off the big jump in her best run.

“She goes quite big on that – probably the largest of all the girls and that’s why she was quite successful today,” said Team Yukon head snowboard coach Mary Binsted. “She had some rail slides before and after that; it was just a matter of putting it all together and blending them cleanly.”

Hallonquist was not the only Yukon boarder exploring new ground this week; of the six Yukoners on the team, four are in their first year as competitive snowboarders.

“We were real close with fourths and a fifth, so I feel comfortable with that,” said Binsted. “For the most part we lost to guys from down south who have better facilities, more competitions and a larger population to draw from.”

Taking fourth in the junior male division was Yukon’s Alexander Chisholme while teammate Max Melvin-McNutt matched his result in the juvenile male division.

“They were both really close to the podium – it was a bit of a nail-biter at the end,” said Binsted. “Max still has two Arctic Games ahead of him, as well, so we definitely expect him to climb the ranks.

“That was our last Games with Alexander, which is kind of sad because he’s a veteran of the team.”

Melvin-McNutt grabbed fourth with a switch-720 on the big jump and Chisholme also wowed judges with a regular 720.

“It’s a fairly new trick for Max, so he doesn’t quite have the amplitude on it yet, but eventually he will,” said Binsted. “Alexander was also working on a 720 today. In his last one he got a lot of extra speed, which he needs because he’s a big guy, and he did a really big 720.”

Chisholme, who won a bronze in snowboard slalom at the 2008 Games, came off the jump a little corked (tilted) and had to put down a hand to stay up, probably costing him a podium spot.

As for the other Yukon boarders, in just his second year snowboarding – not just competing, but actually snowboarding – Thomas Mills finished fifth in the juvenile males division.

“He has a lot of natural talent,” said Binsted.

Also representing the territory was Talia Woodland in the juvenile females, coming sixth, and Geoffroi Bourcier in the junior males division, finishing 10th.

“All three were brand new to the Games this year,” said Binsted. “They decided to come out to the (Arctic Games) trials – the first competition ever for them – and they were successful at the trials and found themselves a the Arctic Winter Games for the first time.”

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