National team orienteerers sprint at Yukon championships

The Yukon Orienteering Championships are not the largest in Canada, but they must be one of the harder ones to win. The expert division is often well stocked with national team members, former members and other high-performance athletes.

The Yukon Orienteering Championships are not the largest in Canada, but they must be one of the harder ones to win.

The expert division is often well stocked with national team members, former members and other high-performance athletes.

Wednesday’s championship kick-off was no different.

Of the 68 who came out to sprint championship, held at Elijah Smith Elementary School, two are getting ready to represent Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC).

Trevor Bray and Caelan McLean will race for Team Canada next month in Rauland, Norway.

“It’s a little weird thinking I’m the oldest now. It wasn’t too long ago I was totally new to the JWOC scene,” said Bray. “I’m really excited. It’s in Norway this year, which is a really big orienteering country … It’ll be a big event there.

“I’m really looking forward to the terrain. I’ve seen some examples of the maps online and they look really cool.”

Bray, 20, will be competing in his fourth and final JWOC in Norway while McLean, 17, in his first. McLean, who is a elite cross-country skier as well, won a silver and bronze at the Canadian Orienteering Championships last year.

“It’s kind of exciting, it should be a good experience,” said McLean. “I’m not expecting to do very well because I have the least amount of orienteering experience than all the others who are going on team, and especially compared to a lot of Scandinavians.

“I’m just looking to do some personal bests and not really worry about whether I’m 150th out of 156.”

Bray and McLean will be joined by fellow Yukoner Pia Blake, who is studying abroad and was absent from Wednesday’s sprints. Bray and Blake each produced some of Canada’s top results at last year’s JWOC.

“I am really looking forward to going to my third JWOC!” said Blake, 18, in an email to the News. “The thing about orienteering, and particularly about high-calibre races like JWOC, is that each race has its own unique terrain and atmosphere, and I can’t wait to see how this year’s races turn out! It will also be great fun to return to Norway, as I lived and trained there for a year two years ago.”

Bray navigated to a first-place finish on the expert 2.3-kilometre, 11-control course on Wednesday. He beat former national junior team member Forest Pearson by the tight margin of 10 seconds. Pearson swept the expert races at the 2013 championships and won two out of three last year.

“He’s been a little ahead of me in the other meets we’ve have this year, so I’m getting my redemption,” said Bray.

“I didn’t really have any technical problems, I felt good running. It was fairly straightforward.”

Lee Hawkings – another former junior national team member – took third ahead of McLean.

Brent Langbakk, Canada’s national junior team head coach and five-time world championship competitor, placed fifth.

Three-time JWOC competitor Kendra Murray was the top female on the expert course, finishing sixth overall at 16:13. Sabine Schweiger came second, four and a half minutes back of Murray. Jennifer MacKeigan, a member of Orienteering Canada’s 2015 High Performance Program, placed third for females.

“I haven’t done a whole lot of orienteering this season – I’m focusing on skiing – so I’ve just been doing the Wednesday night meets,” said Murray. “So today was a little rough on the orienteering side. It was my first time on a 1:5,000 map this year – on a sprint map it’s on a completely different scale than other maps. It’s closer up, so things come up a lot faster … You have to be more on top of things.”

Other notable finishes on Wednesday include siblings Curtis and Savannah Cash topping the novice and advanced courses, respectively. Both came in over four minutes ahead of the second place finishers.

While the three Yukoners are competing in Norway, there’ll be lots of orienteering action back at home. The Yukon Orienteering Association is hosting the Western Canadian Orienteering Championships July 3-5. The association also hosted the westerns and nationals in 2011.

The next installment of the Yukon Orienteering Championships will be the middle-distance event next Wednesday in the Lewes Lake area, followed by the long distance championship on June 17 at Long Lake.

Contact Tom Patrick at

Novice (1.3 km)

1st Curtis Cash – 9:51

2nd Langbakk/McNeil team – 15:17

3rd Pearson/Hale team – 17:35

4th Mikkelsen team – 20:43

5th Glenn/Knaack team – 21:13

6th Deneault/Pearson team – 21:59

7th Pearson team – 22:59

8th Micah Hildes – 27:29

Intermediate (1.5 km)

1st Baker/Florkiewicz team – 17:42

2nd Tess Lawrence – 27:56

3rd Miko Miyahara – 28:50

4th Darryl Bray – 29:49

5th Anderson team – 30:00

6th Rowena Beckett – 30:34

7th Ella Parker – 30:42

8th Bornhuse/Grabowski team – 45:26

9th Desjarlais/Willer team – 53:20

Fraser/Mikkelsen team DSQ

Advanced (1.8 km)

1st Savannah Cash – 17:04

2nd Dave Hildes – 21:26

3rd Bruce McLean – 21:29

4th Karen McKenna – 24:04

5th Gerry Willomitzer – 24:47

6th Darcy Olesen – 25:38

7th Rowena Beckett – 26:57

8th Violet Van Hees – 28:10

9th Lara Melnik – 30:33

10th Craig Brooks – 35:18

11th Deb Kiemele – 38:59

12th Linda MacKeigan – 60:56

Expert (2.3 km)

1st Trevor Bray – 12:14

2nd Forest Pearson – 12:24

3rd Lee Hawkings – 13:48

4th Caelan McLean – 15:30

5th Brent Langbakk – 15:34

6th Kendra Murray – 16:13

7th Afan Jones – 17:44

8th Ross Burnett – 18:20

9th Sabine Schweiger – 20:47

10th Jennifer MacKeigan – 21:37

11th Darren Holcombe – 23:08

12th Erik Blake – 23:12

13th Tobler team – 26:49

14th Bob Sagar – 28:23

15th Jim Hawkings – 28:33

16th Nesta Leduc – 29:25

17th Joe Bradley – 29:36

18th Doug Hitch – 49:25

19th Sidney Maddison – 50:14