Grande Prairie, Alberta
All athletes at the Arctic Winter Games last week had a weight on their shoulders with the pressures of competition, but Yukon’s snowboarding team carried that weight home again – in medals.
Proportionally, Yukon snowboarders were one of the top performing teams at the Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
With 338 athletes represent the territory, just six snowboarders won 10 of Yukon’s 101 medals at the games, including a pair of prestigious overall winner medals.
“What was impressive about our team was the strength of our snowboarders across all the disciplines,” said Yukon snowboarding head coach Mary Binsted. “One of our goals in training was to cover all disciplines and not just focus on one and it looks like it worked out.”
Junior-male veteran team member Alexander Chisholme, who won a bronze in snowboard slalom at the 2008 Arctic Games, was awarded the overall gold medal, winning silver in the half-pipe, bronze in the banked slalom and snowboardcross, and fourth in the slopestyle.
Teammate Max Melvin-McNutt had a pleasant end to the week. He was awarded the overall silver in the juvenile boys division, winning gold in the half-pipe, bronze in the snowboardcross, fourth in the slopestyle and fifth in the banked slalom.
What makes Yukon results all the more impressive on the half-pipe is Whitehorse’s Mt. Sima did not groom the half-pipe this season, using its base as a skills park.
“The half pipe went really, really well; I think it was our most successful event,” said Binsted.
Melvin-McNutt won gold performing a frontside 540 to a backside 540, a recently acquired combination.
“That was a wonderful display of natural talent because he didn’t have very many training hours in the half-pipe prior to that,” said Binsted. “The two tricks he did that put him right up there in the results were brand new to him – he learnt them in training that day.”
Chisholme’s silver was earned with a “back-to-back threes” combination containing a frontside 360 to a switch-frontside 360.
“I think Alexander’s strength was that his amplitude was right up there,” said Binsted. “Amplitude and clean execution were extremely important for these judges.”
Yukon juvenile male Thomas Mills was sixth on the pipe, while juvenile female Kayla Hallonquist was fifth and junior male Geoffroi Bourcier was sixth.
The final event of the week, snowboardcross, had its ups and down for the Yukon team. While Mills took silver in the juvenile division, to go with Yukon’s other two medals in the event, the female riders had a particularly bad day, sustaining injuries during falls. During a practice run, juvenile female Talia Woodland, who came sixth in both the banked slalom and slopestyle events, garnered a black eye in a fall. Hallonquist, who still finished fourth in the event, took a bad tumble heading towards the finish line and suffered a concussion.
“They did a whole bunch of tests on her and she had a concussion, but nothing broken or torn or anything like that,” said Binsted. “With the speed and technical features, it’s probably the event that you need the most experience at to get ahead.”
Hallonquist also won bronze in the slopestyle at the beginning of the week and came fourth in the snowboardcross.
Mills won a bronze in the banked slalom and fifth in the slopestyle. Bourcier, whose best results came in the half-pipe, also came 10th in the slopestyle and ninth in the banked slalom and boardercross.
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