It may seem strange that none of the athletes honoured with major awards at the Sport Yukon Awards Night on Friday were around to pick up their hardware.
However, the absences may actually be a good sign.
It means they’re outside, doing what they should — training and competing at the top levels of their sports.
David Greer won the National/Territorial Male Athlete of the Year, for the second year in a row, for his amazing season in cross-country skiing.
He won a gold in the 10-kilometre classic at the Canada Winter Games, and went on to win two golds and two silvers at the national championships.
Greer is now a member of the national junior team and is training at the Pierre Harvey National Team Development Centre near Quebec City; his first race with the national team is this weekend at Silver Star near Vernon, BC.
Greer thanked Yukon Ski Team coach Alain Masson in a letter read to the audience, and added that “Cross country skiers in the Yukon are lucky to have such supportive people around them.”
Greer also was the first recipient of the new Peter Milner Memorial Fund Award — given to an athlete who showed exemplary dedication during the Canada Games. The Award will be given only during Canada Games years.
Fellow Yukon Ski Team member Bryn Knight won the National/Territorial Female Athlete of the Year.
Knight bounced back from a injury-plagued season to compete at the Canada Games, and ended up with two bronze medals in the 7.5-kilometre classic, and the relay. She went on to win two gold medals at the junior nationals.
Knight and teammate Emily Nishikawa are currently training at the Callaghan Valley National Team Development Centre near Squamish, BC.
In the International Male Athlete of the Year category, cyclist Zach Bell won for the second year in a row. Bell posted impressive results both on the track and in road races.
His early success was on the track, but he’s starting to make a name for himself in pro road racing as well.
He won a silver at the Pan-American Games, and three gold medals at the national track championships.
He rides for the Canadian national team as well as the Symmetrics Pro Cycling team out of Vancouver.
“This was Zach’s best season yet,” said his father Grieg, who accepted the award. “The culture of Yukon sport has been crucial to the success of these athletes, they have their roots deep in the permafrost of the culture here.”
Erica Sharp won the International Female Athlete of the Year award, and the Calgary-based wrestler won the national championship in the 51-kilogram division, and finished third at the world championships in Azerbaijan.
Sharp is currently training for the Olympic trials, three weeks away, in which she will drop a weight class to 48-kilograms.
One athlete who was in attendance for the awards ceremony was weightlifter Scott McCarthy. McCarthy spent 21 years lifting weights competitively, culminating in a bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England. He was this year’s inductee into the Yukon Sport Hall of Fame.
The Faro-based lifter won hundreds of medals during his career. He won his first national medal at age 13.
He also passed his knowledge on, as a coach to Emily Quarton who won a silver at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
“It took a lot of sacrifice to get where I wanted to go,” said McCarthy. “But I’d do it again in a second.
He added that it was never about medals for him. “I just wanted to get better — push myself to the next level.”
“I started as a skinny 10-year-old kid in Faro, and finished on stage at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester … that’s quite a journey.”
Coach of the Year honours went to Gary Bailie, who heads up the Kwanlin Koyotes skiing program.
Administrator of the Year went to Claude Chabot of Cross Country Yukon. “Organizing any event in the Yukon is really easy,” said Chabot. “There’s an astonishing spirit of volunteerism in Whitehorse — let’s keep it up.”
Team of the Year went to the Whitehorse Midget AA Mustangs hockey team. The Mustangs had their best season, winning silver at the BC provincial championships.