Judo Open gets international flavour

After a bit of a dip following the 2007 Canada Games, judo in the Yukon is on the upswing. This was evident at the Yukon Open Judo Championships held Saturday at the Canada Games Centre.

After a bit of a dip following the 2007 Canada Games, judo in the Yukon is on the upswing. This was evident at the Yukon Open Judo Championships held Saturday at the Canada Games Centre.

Not only was the open the largest local meet in memory, with 55 competitors and seven judo schools represented, it was international for the first time in a decade. In fact, with three Alaskan teams in attendance, bringing about 16 judokas, it was only the second time since the early 1990s Americans competed in the Yukon.

“We went to the Alaska State Open two years in a row; we set a small team up,” said Aaron Jensen, tournament director and Shiroumakai Judo Club sensei in Whitehorse. “It’s one of those things: if you come to ours, we’ll come to yours.

“I think the club in Juneau is on a bit of a comeback, as well as ours. As far as they are concerned, it’s cheaper to come to Whitehorse than it is to go out to Anchorage.”

With 51 medals up for grabs – 36 going to Whitehorse judokas – every school, local and Alaskan, took in hardware.


That can even be said for Whitehorse’s Hiroshikai Judo Club, which only had one competitor out.

First year, white/yellow belt Donovon Horvath, Hiroshikai’s lone competitor, won gold in novice judo knowledge and silver in Ukeni (novice break falls).

“He was the only student of mine that showed up,” said Hiroshikai sensei Robert Bellon. “He got 99 per cent on his vocabulary test – I was quite pleased.

“Donovan pays attention and he wants to be there.”

While Horvath won gold and silver, Whitehorse’s Northern Lights Judo Club’s Melia Hudgin won the reverse in the same categories, for her club’s only gold. The white belt also took a bronze in the girls’ under-11 division.

“She’s knowledgeable, that’s her strong point,” said Northern Lights sensei Dan Poelman. “Her break falls were great and when she applies herself, she does quite well.”

Whitehorse’s Golden Horn Judo Club took in eight medals, but only one gold, won by orange belt Tim Schirmer in the boys’ under-15 division.

“You probably hear his name a lot with the snowboarding in the Yukon here,” said Golden Horn sensei Michael Bellon. “Snowboarding, of course, is over, so he was able to go to the Yukon Open.

“He just has a natural talent for a lot of things. And he’s very humble about it too. I think he has the right attitude, he goes out there to have fun and do his best.”

As Whitehorse’s largest school, Shiroumakai had the most opportunities for medals and took advantage of that, winning 20 including 11 gold. Among the gold medal winners were Alan Johnson, Kaylee Johnson, Thomas Dickson, Emiko Teramura, Raymond O’Neil, Max Brewster, Amy Roberts, Dane Vassuer, Richard Zebruck and Aidon Johnson with two.


Boys U-9 – medium

Gold: Alan Johnson (SHK)

Silver: Zeb Blower (GHJ)

Bronze: Amid Baird (MVJ)

Bronze: Cole Beaman (GHJ)

Girls U-9 -90lbs – light

Gold: Kaylee Johnson (SHK)

Silver: Cassi Jensen (SHK)

Bronze: Anya Bellon (GHJ)

Boys U-11 – medium

Gold: Thomas Dickson (SHK)

Silver: Tristan Walker-Andrews (CCJ)

Bronze: Zachary Ligon (FWJ)

Girls U-11 – light

Gold: Emiko Teramura (SHK)

Silver: Paige Poelman (NLJ)

Bronze: Maria Vasseur (SHK)

Girls U-11 – heavy

Gold: Kylie Lager (CCJ)

Silver: Rory Hamilton (CCJ)

Bronze: Melia Hudgin (NLJ)

Boys U-13 – medium

Gold: Raymond O’Neil (SHK)

Silver: Isaac Pumphrey (GHJ)

Boys U-13 – heavy

Gold: Aidon Johnson (SHK)

Silver: Marek Henderson (GHJ)

Bronze: Nathaniel Greenshields (SHK)

Boys U-15 – medium

Gold: Tim Schirmer (GHJ)

Silver: Braiden Helf (CCJ)

Bronze: Andrew Jensen (SHK)

Boys U-15 – heavy

Gold: Max Brewster (SHK)

Silver: Erik Vasseur (SHK)

Bronze: Jerry Miller (SHK)

Girls U-15 – medium

Gold: Amy Roberts (SHK)

Silver: Marianna Ligon (FWJ)

Bronze: Breanna Helf (CCJ)

Girls U-17 – open

Gold: Taila Valdez (MVJ)

Silver: Lara Bellon (GHJ)

Bronze: Margo Lane (MVJ)

Senior men – light

Gold: Dane Vassuer (SHK)

Silver: Houston Laws (CCJ)

Bronze: Tavis McCallum (SHK)

Senior men – heavy

Gold: Richard Zebruck (SHK)

Silver: Marc-Andre Lavigne (SHK)

Bronze: Daniel Baird (MVJ)

Judo knowledge (novice)

Gold: Donovan Horvath (HRK)

Silver: Melia Hudgin (NLJ)

Bronze: Kaylee Johnson (SHK)

Judo knowledge (intermediate)

Gold: Aidon Johnson (SHK)

Silver: Isaac Pumphrey (GHJ)

Bronze: Zachary Ligon (FWJ)

Ukemi (novice)

Gold: Melia Hudgin (NLJ)

Silver: Donovan Horvath (HRK)

Bronze: Kaylee Johnson (SHK)

Ukemi (intermediate)

Gold: Marianna Ligon (FWJ)

Silver: Paige Poelman (NLJ)

Bronze: Lara Bellon (GHJ)


Toughest Female: Juliana Siegfried (MVJ)

Toughest Male: Tavis McCallum (SHK)

Best Throw Female: Amy Roberts (SHK)

Best Throw Male: Max Brewster (SHK)

Sportsmanship Female: Breanna Helf (CCJ)

Sportsmanship Male: Mark McKinnon (GHJ)

Judo Yukon Appreciation: Aaron Jensen (SHK)

MacKenzie Spirit of Judo: Dan Poelman (NLJ)

Contact Tom Patrick at