Flight of the badminton team

‘I’ve never had so much fun losing in my whole life,” said Landon Kulych as he stepped off the Canada Winter Games badminton court.

‘I’ve never had so much fun losing in my whole life,” said Landon Kulych as he stepped off the Canada Winter Games badminton court.

The tall, blonde-haired, 19-year-old athlete was all smiles as he dropped his racket bag down beside him and took a swig from his water bottle.

Smiles and sports come naturally to Kulych.

His aunt, Vickie Dawe, had been beaming on the sidelines throughout Kulych’s losing match.

His cousin, Kaleb Dawe, was poised to play the same badminton tournament later that morning.

And two other cousins were set to play for the Yukon hockey team.

“I’m pumped,” said Kulych.

“It’s awesome.

“It’s a great atmosphere, there’s a lot of energy here in this building.”

Kulych played two sets in round one of the men’s singles tournament and lost both to Tommy McKee, a nationally-ranked player from Ontario.

During the first match he was admittedly nervous, and lost 3 to 21. In the second match he worked out his butterflies and lost 7 to 21.

“I think Landon had some butterflies at the beginning,” said coach Mike Muller.

“He wasn’t using the court the way he needs to use the court; his shots weren’t going deep enough in the court.

“We talked a little bit between games and he picked it up and he got an extra four points in the second game and that’s direct to the fact that he’s taken this — he’s listened to me, he got over a little bit of his nervous jitters that he had at the beginning and he played better badminton.”

Kulych had nothing but praise for his opponent.

“Had a few good ones in there, snuck a few points behind him, but he was just an amazing athlete,” he said.

“It’s definitely the touch. I mean, these guys have been playing since they could hold a racket in their hand; they’ve been playing since kindergarten, so they have pretty good control out there — it’s outstanding.”

Kulych flew into Whitehorse for the Games from Edmonton, where he studies business and education.

Anticipating the high calibre of play, he set a goal of scoring at least 10 points on his opponent, which he did between the two sets he played.

“My goal was to get 10 points; I didn’t say how many games it would take me to get it, but I got my 10,” said Kulych.

Kaleb Dawe, 17, from Porter Creek Secondary School, hadn’t made any goals until he heard of his cousin’s 10-point gain.

I want to get more than 10 points, he said.

“I’ve never seen anything like this, I’ve never been to a badminton competition before,” said Dawe.

Dawe played David Harrison from Manitoba in round two of the men’s singles and lost 5 to 21 and 9 to 21.

He also played mens-doubles with teammate Richard Fulop, and they lost 6 to 21 and 8 to 21 in round one of the tournament.

Despite the accumulated losses, Muller wasn’t displeased with his team.

“We’re here and we’re prepared to compete with the best in Canada in badminton, and what we’ve been working towards is to build a team that has the confidence in themselves and their abilities and have the ability to go out and play as hard as they can every single point that they’re out on the court,” he said.

“We’re excited and we’re going to cope with the pressure by playing as hard as we can, there are going to be some distractions, there are going to be some butterflies, but you work through those and you play as hard as you can.

“This is about playing to their potential and this is about them playing at this level of competition and doing the best they can.”

In the ladies’ singles tournament, Yukon team member Ally Fraser lost 8 to 21 and 7 to 21 against Grace Box from Alberta.

Even so, she stepped off the court with the confidence of a winner.

“I feel so privileged and it doesn’t feel like I belong, but I think I stepped up my game enough that last set,” she said.

“My goal was to get five points, but I got seven against her and she was really good, so I guess I’ll have to raise my goal a little bit.”

Playing against a girl with a much harder smash than her own, Fraser was able to sustain one rally quite a while.

“We kept one rally going for a really long time and I think I drove her to the side and she hit it out, so I’m pretty proud of that,” said Fraser.

Muller was just as proud.

“I think she was a little bit nervous as well, but she made adjustments between the first and second games and she played much better badminton,” he said.

“I’m impressed by her ability to dig deep and work hard, so I expect more of that from her.”

Fraser went on to play mixed doubles with Fulop against a team from Nunavut where they lost, but not by much.

The final scores were 13 to 21 and 18 to 21.

These visiting players know badminton, said Muller.

“The calibre of play here is national quality with future Olympians here and people that did very well in the Open Canadian Championships this year,” he said.

“There are teams here that are top five in the country, so there’s some incredible players.

“So that’s good — it’s good to shake us up a little bit because if you don’t play in many tournaments you don’t realize the level of players out there.

“It opens some eyes.”

The Yukon badminton team will play in the team tournament today. There, it will be pooled with teams that are closer to its ability.

Muller said the team event is why he came to the Games.

He expects to be competitive with some of the smaller provinces and the other territories.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patti Balsillie will be running for the mayor’s seat in Whitehorse in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Submitted)
Balsillie aims to serve as city’s mayor

Says she has the time, skill set to serve in full-time role

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton sits on the opposition side of the legislative assembly on March 8 after announcing his resignation from the Liberal party earlier that day. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Don Hutton resigns from Liberal caucus; endorses NDP leadership

Hutton said his concerns about alcohol abuse and addictions have gone unaddressed

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read