Snowboarder Lara Bellon leaves the Arctic Winter Games with a lot of loot.
As of Thursday, the 17-year-old Whitehorse resident had won five gold ulus – one for each snowboarding event she had entered plus an overall medal.
“She’s our golden girl this year,” said Yukon coach Katrina Couch. “It’s amazing.”
It’s also been a record-breaking week for the Yukon’s snowboarding team.
“Overall, Snowboard Yukon has won more medals than any snowboard contingent in any Arctic Winter Games,” said Couch.
The previous record was 10 medals. “We’re at 13, not including the overall medals and the team medal. So we’re walking away with some bling today.”
Bellon has only been snowboarding for three years. Leading up to the Games, she trained by building snow ramps in her backyard to practise on when Mt. Sima was closed.
Bellon credits her teammates with prodding her on. “The guys, I’m always riding with them, and pushing myself to be as good as them,” she said.
At the start of the Games this week, Bellon felt shaky about landing a 360-degree spin. By the end, she was landing 540-degree turns with flair.
“One week and I feel like I’ve progressed so much,” said Bellon.
She won her fourth medal, in snowboardcross, with a dramatic finish.
“For the final race, she got out of the start-gate and held second really tight,” said Couch.
“Then, on the last burn, she caught up to the Alberta female who was leading most of the run and she did a nice, big, tight turn.
“They were maybe a foot apart. It was an intense finish. She pulled it forward and stole first. It was a huge hit.”
Bellon is no stranger to competition. She represented the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games last year in Halifax.
Haylie Grant, 14, also won five snowboarding medals – four silvers and a bronze in the juvenile girls category.
Unlike Bellon, this was Grant’s first competition.
“She really progressed well,” said Couch.
Grant garnered silver medals in the slalom, slopestyle and snowboardcross events and a bronze on the halfpipe.
Grant only enrolled in that event after another racer dropped out.
“Yesterday, she was getting up high on the walls, having fun with it and walked away with bronze,” said Couch.
Grant also received the silver overall medal.
Alidas Jamnicky, 15, won his first medal in competition, picking up a bronze in the junior boys’ snowboardcross. He was young enough to compete as a juvenile, but he was bumped up.
On his qualifying run, Jamnicky blew past everyone, setting the best time with 41.7 seconds. That ensured his place in the finals.
“In the final race, it was tight, he held his own and he came out third,” said Couch.
For juvenile boys, Adam Waddington, 15, won gold with a show-stealing performance in the halfpipe.
“He did amazing, stomping 540s and huge air out of the pipe,” said Couch. “Adam loves freestyle riding, and he really came out on top in the competition.”
Waddington also won bronze in slopestyle.
In both events, his chief competitor was teammate Timmy “Two Turns” Schirmer, 13, who took two silvers in the same events and went on to win a bronze overall medal.
“They’ve been pushing each other the whole time. Tim would come out on top, then Adam would come out on top,” said Couch.
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