New winners crowned

The length of the courses were similar to last week's sprint event, but three-of-the-four divisions saw new winners at the middle distance installment of the Yukon Orienteering Championships, held Wednesday in the MacPherson area.

The length of the courses were similar to last week’s sprint event, but three-of-the-four divisions saw new winners at the middle distance installment of the Yukon Orienteering Championships, held Wednesday in the MacPherson area.

“In (last week’s) sprint we used very fast, open terrain that was very flat for the most part, in this event we’re going up and down a lot more,” said organizer Afan Jones, winner of the short advanced group. “At the same time we’re trying to challenge the navigation a lot more. Not unlike last week, where you had constant changes in direction and varying lengths between controls. We try to mix it up a lot.

“People have to be very focused on the map-reading. If they lose it a bit and they’re not very focused on the terrain, they can get thrown off and messed up, and they have to go back to the last known point.”

Only Pia Blake, competing in the intermediate division, managed to make it two-in-a-row, taking first both weeks. Making the win all the more impressive, the Yukon Orienteering Team member, a 12-14 year old age group competitor, was racing up a division.

“She started out in our junior program when she was about eight years old and her experience is showing through,” wrote Team Yukon coach Brent Langbakk in an e-mail to the News. “That she did well on the intermediate course here bodes really well for North Americans in early July, when she will run a technically easier course.”

Langbakk, a five-time Team Canada competitor at the world championships who won last week’s long advanced race, was absent from the competition on Wednesday with a sore Achilles tendon. However, as advanced course winner Colin Abbott points out, he managed to beat Langbakk in the middle length race in last year’s championship.

“It would have been good to see Brent out here, so I could beat him again, like last year,” said Abbott facetiously. “But I’m very grateful to Brent for all the coaching he’s put into the junior program. He’s been a big supporter of me and I’m hoping to do him proud at the worlds.”

Abbott took first narrowly outpacing fellow Team Yukon orienteerer Lee Hawkings by less than a minute.

“It’s pretty hard to have a perfect race in orienteering; there’s always little things you can improve on. I definitely had a few of those today,” said Abbott. “When I was getting close to the control, I was having problems finishing it.”

Both Hawkings and Abbott will be representing Canada next month at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Denmark. At last year’s championships the two brought home top-50 results.

“This year I’m feeling good physically – I think I’m faster than I’ve ever been,” said Abbott. “Technically I’m improving as well. So I’m shooting for the top half in the majority of races there. I’m pretty excited for this year.”

Below are the results by course, but included in parenthesis are the age categories.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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