Joël Girouard paddles into second place during the Icebreaker Race on May 29. John Tonin/Yukon News

Joël Girouard paddles into second place during the Icebreaker Race on May 29. John Tonin/Yukon News

Icebreaker Race launches the paddling competition season

Paddlers raced 28 kilometres from the Marsh Lake Dam to Schwatka Lake

Flatwater North held the first paddling event of the season on Saturday. The Icebreaker Race travelled 28 kilometres from the Marsh Lake Dam, ending at the Schwatka Lake day-use area.

After about two hours, those in support of the paddlers began waiting for the first boats to appear on Schwatka.

Shouts of “boat” rang across the water as the first team, a marathon C2 boat powered by Jake Paleczny and Rob Spinks appeared.

The duo maintained their speed as they approached the finish line, completing the 28 kilometre race in two hours, 13 minutes and 50 seconds.

Saturday was a grey, blustery day making some of the sections of the race tough.

“It was good, it was hard,” said Spinks. “It was a little windy.”

“We were working hard,” added Paleczny. “It was really windy at the start with a tailwind.”

As the race progressed Paleczny said they experienced “a little bit of everything.”

Jake Paleczny, back and Rob Spinks paddle into the Icebreaker Race finish line at Schwatka Lake on May 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)

“The river twists back and forth a lot,” said Paleczny. “There were spots where it was a full headwind, we had a bit of water coming in the sides of the boat. Then you come around a bend and it is a tailwind then a sidewind.”

“It was fun,” said Spinks.

Paleczny and Spinks are Yukon River Quest veterans and this year will be doing the new Half Quest race — from Whitehorse to Carmacks.

Being able to race against other boats is good for training, said Paleczny.

“That’s the thing with training, you go out and try and paddle hard when you’re training but getting to race is always good motivation to paddle harder,” said Paleczny.

“It is good for you, it toughens you up,” added Spinks.

There was a brief lull before a trio of boats appeared on Schwatka. Joël Girouard, in a K1, outpaced the pack to come in second with a time of two hours, 24 minutes and 50 seconds.

“I’m happy with that (time),” said Girouard. “It is better than two years ago when it took me four hours.”

Girouard said it was nice to be back on the water racing, especially because COVID might eliminate all Outside competitions.

Girouard said he and his teammates have only been training on the water for about two weeks and once he reached shore, he was feeling it in his lungs.

The third boat to finish was another K1, paddled by Thomas de Jager in two hours, 25 minutes and 29 seconds.

Contact John Tonin at

Local Sports

Just Posted

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bagged meter fees could be discounted for patios

Council passes first reading at special meeting

The Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell is among a number of sites that are expected to make more commercial/industrial land available in the coming years. (Submitted)
Council hears update on commercial land

Number of developments expected to make land available in near future

keith halliday
Yukonomist: Have I got an opportunity for you!

Are you tired of the same-old, same-old at work? Would you like to be a captain of industry, surveying your domain from your helicopter and enjoying steak dinners with influential government officials at the high-profile Roundup mining conference?

Clouds pass by the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Friday, June 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon government, B.C. company want Supreme Court of Canada appeal of Wolverine Mine case

Government concerned with recouping cleanup costs, creditor wants review of receiver’s actions.

John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file
Catherine Elliott, Yukon acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, has announced two new COVID-19 cases in the Yukon.
Two new COVID-19 cases confirmed, Porter Creek Secondary prom cancelled

Graduating students are encouraged to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms

The Village of Carmacks has received federal funding for an updated asset management plan. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Federal funding coming to Carmacks

The program is aimed at helping municipalities improve planning and decision-making around infrastructure

Paddlers start their 715 kilometre paddling journey from Rotary Park in Whitehorse on June 26, 2019. The 2021 Yukon River Quest will have a different look. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
The 22nd annual Yukon River Quest moves closer to start date

Although the race will be modified in 2021, a field of 48 teams are prepared to take the 715 kilometre journey from Whitehorse to Dawson City on the Yukon River

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its June 7 meeting

The RCMP Critical Incident Program will be training in Watson Lake from June 14-16. Mike Thomas/Yukon News
RCMP will conduct three days of training in Watson Lake

Lakeview Apartment in Watson Lake will be used for RCMP training

John Tonin/Yukon News Squash players duke it out during Yukon Open tournament action at Better Bodies on June 5.
Four division titles earned at squash Yukon Open

The territory’s squash talent was on full display at the 2021 Yukon Open

Runners leave the start line of the 2014 Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay Skagway. The 2021 race will start at checkpoint six and remain in the Yukon only. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)
Klondike Road Relay returns to in-person after a virtual year

A modified, in-person Klondike Road Relay will be open to Yukoners

John Tonin/Yukon News Rang Pillai speaks at the Great Yukon Summer press conference on May 27.
‘The sooner the better’: Operators react to Great Yukon Summer campaign

The Great Yukon Summer campaign was announced May 27 and begins June 4

Most Read