Grande Prairie, Alberta
The Yukon had a lot of multiple medal winners last week at the Arctic Winter Games, but none match Anna Rivard.
The Whitehorse athlete won seven medals in the Arctic sports competition and was awarded the all-around gold medal for her combined results, last week in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
Making the achievement all the more special, Rivard, 16, who was Yukon’s flag bearer at the closing ceremonies, has only been training in Arctic sports since November.
“I was kind of surprised because some of the girls I was competing against looked really intimidating and really good, and they talked about doing it for so many years,” said Rivard. “Not to say they weren’t good, they were good, I was just surprised to beat some of them.”
At the Games, Rivard – a Level 5 gymnast who won bronze in an individual and team event at the 2006 Arctic Games in gymnastics and finished third overall – was able to draw on her gymnastics skills to win gold in the junior female triple jump and Alaska high kick, plus silver in the one-foot high kick, two-foot high kick, the kneel jump, the sledge jump and the arm pull.
Because Arctic Games only allows gymnasts up to Level 3, Rivard was simply looking for another team to join so she could also go to the Games.
“I wanted to go and see the younger gymnasts compete, but I wasn’t sure what sport to try out for,” said Rivard. “Since my brother tried out for Arctic sports and did well, I thought I’d try out for that one.”
In the triple jump, Rivard broke the Arctic Games record on her second attempt and smashed it on her third, moving the record from 7.74 metres to 7.98 metres, and then up to 8.31 metres.
“It’s probably from my gymnastics,” said Rivard. “Jumping and leg work that we do there, that’s what gymnastics mostly is. I did some running in the summer and that probably helped.”
Rivard also came close to breaking the Alaskan high kick record, first tying the 1.77 metre record, but failing to set a new one after reaching higher but not landing properly.
“In her second attempt she clearly kicked it but she came down and her bottom touched the floor,” said Yukon Arctic sports head coach Tenna Dickson. “The officials had to look at each other to see if it was good or not because it was ever so slight.”
She was not the only Yukoner to turn heads; Rivard’s teammate Corey Baxter finished fourth in the kneel jump and won gold in the sledge jump where it looked as if another record was about to fall.
“The record was 79 and she had 70 – she would have clearly broke the record,” said Dickson. “Had she not touched the sledge with her foot at the end, she clearly would have had jumped into the 120, 130 range. She was barely warmed up, breathing hard.”
Yukon also took home medals from the male categories. Open male Tom Fulop won silver in head pull and came fourth in the kneel jump, and junior male Tyler Guy Wynnyk took silver in the arm pull and fifth in the two-foot high kick.
“Tyler and Tom, who aren’t big, big guys, but are in very good shape and very strong, were complete underdogs in the strength events,” said Dickson. “Tyler pulled this one guy from Nunavut that was built and beat him. That was definitely a highlight.
“We had a couple bad officiating calls in the knuckle hop and the airplane, which was unfortunate because Tom would have placed in both of those events.”
In addition, Yukoner Patricia Wallingham came fourth in the junior female arm pull while teammates Jordan Howse, Myles Nakoyak, Dustin Wilkinson and Jesse Whalen did not place in their events.
“Everyone got personal bests or beyond,” said Dickson. “In competition in our sports, with that atmosphere, you always end up doing better than your personal best.
“But some of them went way beyond and surprised themselves.”
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