Kate Londero pushed herself to the breaking point to win the Yukon’s first medal of the Arctic Winter Games on Monday at Shipyards Park. The 13-year-old, competing in the 2.5-kilometre juvenile female snowshoe, stomped through the snow for gold.
She pushed herself so hard, she was given oxygen after collapsing just beyond the finish line.
“She surprised the stink out of me,” said Yukon head coach Don White. “She had either cold- or exercise-induced asthma, recognized as a situation she had to deal with since Christmas. She was coming through the finish chute, saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ and collapsed at the finish line. We got a puffer to her, got oxygen into her.
“If you’re working that hard, it tells me there’s nothing left in the bank. She really did well.”
White was not the only one surprised. Londero, who was one of five Yukon snowshoers to win medals in the first races, didn’t expect to win one, no less a gold. She beat silver medalist Carolyn Sam by 36 seconds while teammate Sophie Rees placed seventh.
“I’m actually really surprised,” said Londero. “I didn’t think I was going to win anything. I thought I’d just run it and not win anything. I’m just really happy right now.
“Normally I’d just collapse before I hit the line, but I just kept going,” she added. “Just over on the river, I passed (the leader) and it looked like she just gave up. I was behind her the whole time and when I passed her she really fell behind.”
Among the other four Yukon medal winners, there was another gold.
Logan Roots was well out in front in the five-kilometre junior male race. The 18-year-old crossed the finish line in 23:09.5, 3:38.5 ahead of silver’s Dmitrii Vasilev, from Russia. He looked cold, but not much out of breath.
“Last night and this morning my nerves were really up and down, and I didn’t get a lot of sleep so I’m happy it went as well as it did,” said Roots. “Hopefully for the rest of the week I can sleep better.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go until a kilometre-and-a-half in and it went pretty well from there. For the first kilometre-and-a-half, I had (Vasilev) in front of me. But I know this course pretty well and there’s a really skinny uphill part that I didn’t want to be stuck behind on, so I passed him just before that and after that I was leading.”
Just 18 seconds behind Vasilev was the Yukon’s Aiden Bradley, 16, snagging a bronze medal.
“I was surprised because at the very beginning everyone was bigger than me, so I didn’t think I was going to do as well as I did,” said Bradley.
Bradley was slower off the start line than most, but passed a big chunk of the field after the first kilometre and then slipped into fourth and eventually third nearing the end of the first of two laps.
Yukon junior female Sara Burke-Forsyth was just 14 seconds or about 50 metres from gold, instead taking silver behind Russia’s Evgeniia Shiliaeva in the five-kilometre race.
“I’m surprised. I didn’t expect to get anything because I’m one of the youngest kids in this category,” said Burke-Forsyth, 16, who was racing athletes two and three years older than her. “It’s just like, ‘Yay me!’”
Also taking silver for the Yukon was Samuel Joseph Bonar in the 2.5 kilometre, juvenile male division.
“Not really shock, but a little surprised,” said White, of his team’s medal haul. “Some of the people didn’t seem to be putting out as much as I thought they should during training. But they certainly performed today.”
The three Yukoners who medaled in the junior category have climbed Arctic Games podiums before.
Roots, the veteran of the squad, won three golds at the 2008 Games as a juvenile, and two silvers and a gold as a junior at the 2010 Games in Grande Prairie, Alta.
Sara Burke-Forsythe, a four-time medalist at the 2010 Games, won two silver and a gold, plus an additional gold in the 4×400-metre relay event. Bradley won a bronze in the 2.5-kilometre event and a gold in the juvenile 4×400-metre relay at the 2010 Arctic Games.
Up next for snowshoe are the sprint races on Wednesday at Shipyards Park. The action starts at 9 a.m.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org