Judo Yukon had a strong start to a long and busy season on Saturday.
Sixty-three judokas took to the mat at the Golden Horn Judo Championships at Golden Horn School.
“I think it’s a really great start, lots of people, lots of beginners,” said Judo Yukon president Dan Poelman.
Not only were there about 20 more participants than last year at the season-opening competition, there were just five less than at the Yukon Judo Championships in May, which included 15 judokas from Alaska.
Whitehorse’s Shiroumakai Judo Club, the defending League Cup champions for collecting the most points last season and holders of the Best Performance Trophy for averaging the most points per competitor last season, collected the most medals.
Shiroumakai, who had 28 judokas on Saturday, won 14 gold, 12 silver and 17 bronze.
The hosting Golden Horn Club won five gold, six silver and nine bronze with 15 members competing.
The Northern Light Club, with 10 competitors, won six gold, four silver and five bronze.
Hiroshikai, also with 10 competitors, won two gold, five silver and three bronze.
Of the 63 participants, two left with three medals.
Northern Lights’ Kaajineek Neumann won gold and silver in two fighting divisions and a silver in a knowledge category.
“That’s great work,” said Poelman, who is the Northern Lights sensei. “He’s one of our members from the beginning of our club actually.
“Obviously everything was falling in place for him there. He captured on the day three medals, so that’s great.”
Shiroumakai’s Kurtis Hyatt matched Neumann with a gold and two silver.
The Golden Horn Championships was the first of four in-territory competitions Judo Yukon will host this season. The other contests are the Carcross Judo Championships on Jan. 25, Northern Lights Championships on Feb. 22 and Yukon Open Judo Championships on May 3.
With Air North recently announcing the introduction of flights between Whitehorse and Yellowknife, judokas from N.W.T. might come for the Yukon championships, said Poelman.
Athletes with Judo Yukon will also travel to four Outside meets, beginning with the Canada West Invitational in Burnaby, B.C., next month.
There’s also the Edmonton International in March, the Alaska State Judo Championships and the Canadian Judo Championships next summer in Quebec.
“We just had a clinic with our technical adviser from Kamloops, (Canadian elite coach) John Huntley,” said Poelman. “And we plan to have another one in January with another person from Richmond, and then another person from Montreal.
“There are a lot of activities and events coming up for us. I think it’s fair to say, it’s going to be a busy year.”
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