Wade Ames, left, and Jordan Profeit battle during a pro fight the Great Northern Tournament in Whitehorse on July 2. Ames won the pro fight tournament. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Great Northern Tournament returns for fourth medieval combat event

‘Every year it grows a little more and we get a little better at it’

The Company of the White Wolf hosted the fourth annual Great Northern Tournament at the biathlon range in Whitehorse from June 30 to July 2.

Twenty competitors, included two from Alberta and one from Ontario, took part in duels, pro fights and three-on-three buhurts.

Land Pearson, president of the Yukon Medieval Combat Group — the non-profit organization behind the event — said this year’s event continued to build on previous years.

“Every year it grows a little more and we get a little better at it,” said Pearson. “I think this year things went pretty well. Things moved along really nicely and quickly and we had decent crowds come out all the days to check it out, which is awesome.”

The three duel categories — sword and shield, longsword and polearms — are all contested with similar rules and scoring. Combatants fight in one 90-second round with the goal of scoring the most good, clean hits.

“It’s scored kind of like boxing,” said Pearson. “There are two judges watching each fighter keeping track of strikes and at the end they’re comparing who had more strikes.”

In the sword and shield, participants carry a sword in one hand and a large heater-style shield. Strikes blocked with the shield generally don’t count towards scoring.

Pearson won gold in the sword and shield competition with fellow Yukoner Steven Pearson winning silver and Ryan Croghan of Ontario winning bronze.

Participants in the longsword forgo a shield of any sort and instead use a much larger, heavier sword.

This year, the category was a clean sweep for the Company of the White Wolf.

Don Hornby won gold, Land Pearson won silver and Luke Kissik won bronze.

The last of the duels was the polearms, large six-foot long axes, and the Albertans proved the best on the day.

Wade Ames from the Wardens of the Red Tower group in Calgary won gold and Sam Desaulniers from the Ice Eaters group based in Hinton, Alta., won silver. Hornby added a second medal with a bronze.

Next up in the competition were the pro fights, described as “armoured MMA” by Land Pearson.

Rather than a focus on clean strikes, just about anything goes in a pro fight, including kicks, knees, throws and strikes to downed opponents. Participants fight using a sword and a punch shield, a much smaller shield designed for striking.

Each fight was two 90-second rounds rather than the three three-minute rounds found in some other events in order to account for the tournament format.

Calgary’s Ames won gold in the tournament with Company of the White Wolf’s Mack Smith winning silver and Land Pearson winning bronze.

Lastly was the three-on-three buhurts, a team competition where the goal is to knock down all the opponents by forcing them into three points of contact with the ground.

“Everyone is assumed to have two feet touching the ground, so then a hand goes down, a knee goes down or you get thrown and you’re out,” said Land Pearson. “It ends up being a lot more grappling.”

The team Pearsons Plus One, comprised of Land Pearson, Lake Pearson and Ames, won gold and Cerebus, made up of Smith, Hornby and Ian Duncan, won silver. Grey Band, the team of Allan Lee, Lance Gadsby and Croghan, won bronze.

Next up for the Company of the White Wolf is a trip to Brooks, Alta., in August to defend their titles in both the longsword and buhurt categories.

Locally, the group will be holding an event in Dawson City over the Labour Day Weekend.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

Company of the White Wolf

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Sam Desaulniers shows off the black eye he received during a fight at the Great Northern Tournament in Whitehorse on July 2. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Mack Smith dislocated his shoulder during a head to head battle at the Great Northern Tournament in Whitehorse on July 2.

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Luke Kissik waits for his turn to fight in a shaded tent during the Great Northern Tournament in Whitehorse on July 2.

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Land Pearson acts as a squire and helps Luke Kissik tie up some loose armour after a battle at the Great Northern Tournament in Whitehorse on July 2.

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