The Yukon’s speed skating team finished the 2012 Arctic Winter Games with twice as many medals than the 2010 Games.
The skaters collected 15 ulus – three gold, 11 silver and one bronze. They also set personal best times in 23 events and an Arctic Games speed record at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse.
However, it was their ubiquity in the A finals – reaching 15 out of 16 – that most impressed Yukon coach Phil Hoffman.
“What I was impressed with was that we had a Yukon skater in most of the A-finals, even if they didn’t win medals,” said Hoffman. “In itself, it’s a pretty good accomplishment.”
The Yukon’s Heather Clarke had a couple of the above. The 17-year-old won two golds and three silvers, including the relay. In addition to making all her A finals, she set an Arctic Games record in the junior female 777-metre event, with a time of 1:17.17.
Junior male teammate Donald Fortune won silvers across the board, collecting four in total. In the 1,500-metre, he was just 0.15 behind the gold medalist. He also produced personal best times in all four of his events.
The Yukon’s Hannah Wirth, skating in juvenile female, was another multiple medal winner. She won gold in the 666-metre event, silver in the 1,000-metre and silver in the 500-metre – just 0.06 seconds behind gold. She also won her team’s only bronze in the 777-metre and had personal best times in all her distances.
The Yukon’s Daryn Lovell won a silver in the juvenile male’s 500-metre event. He then went into the 2,000-metre relay with teammates Michael Ritchie and Christopher Ritchie to win silver. Lovell set personal best times in three events and each of the Ritchie boys set ones in all four distances.
Clarke’s silver in the relay was won with Yukoners Resheeda Slater and Emily Klassen. It was the first time in at least three Arctic Games that the Yukon had enough female skaters to field a relay team. (Slater set new personal best in all four distances.)
“For as long as I’ve been involved – the last three Games anyways,” said Hoffman. “We didn’t have a junior female team at Yellowknife and Grande Prairie.”
Clarke, who was competing in her third Arctic Games, won two golds and a bronze in the 2010 Games in Grande Prairie, Alta. (Fortune won two silver and a bronze in 2010 and Wirth a bronze.)
Clarke was the only Yukoner who competed at the Canadian Junior Championships in December at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.
Skating four events, setting a personal best time in the 500-metre, Clarke finished 30th overall at the championships. It was her first time competing at the event.
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