The 2020 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games were held in Thunder Bay, Ont., from Feb. 25 to 29 and Team Yukon’s 10 athletes did an impressive job representing the territory.
Yukon athletes competed in three sports at the games — cross-country skiing, curling and figure skating.
Leading the way in the medal count for the Yukon were the three cross-country skiers.
Darby McIntyre won gold medals in the five-kilometre classic and the 10-km classic as well as a silver medal in the 7.5-km classic, Owen Monroe won a silver medal in the 10-km classic and a bronze in the five-km classic, and Ernest Chua won a silver in the 500 metre and a bronze in the one-km.
The trio also combined to win a silver medal in the three by one-km relay.
Grant MacDonald, assistant Chef de Mission, added that the silver in the relay could easily have been gold.
“It should be noted that they were less than five seconds behind first place,” said MacDonald. “So they came very, very close to getting gold.”
The other medal won by a Yukoner came in figure skating.
Mike Sumner won a silver medal and while Tijana McCarthy did not medal, MacDonald said she too turned in a strong showing.
“She didn’t medal, but she put in an amazing performance and had the crowd clapping and joyful,” said MacDonald.
Rounding out Team Yukon’s efforts was the curling team, comprised of Carrie Rudolph, Edward Kaye, Albert Bill, Chris Lee and skip Gaets Michaud.
“It’s a sport that we’re still very much just developing a base for,” said MacDonald. “They did extremely well. They were very competitive.”
While the team did not medal, MacDonald was clear the team was in the thick of it during the competition.
“They certainly held their own,” said MacDonald. “They gained tremendous experience at this national competition.”
The team also had a chance to meet Jennifer Jones — an Olympic gold medalist, six-time Scotties winner and two-time world champion curler — during the competition.
“She’s just an amazing ambassador of the sport of curling,” said MacDonald. “They also had an opportunity to rub shoulders with Thunder Bay local Krista McCarville, who’s just returning from the Scotties.”
The curling competition was held at the Fort William Curling Club, a venue MacDonald called a “mecca” of curling, with alumni like Al Hackner and Heather Houston.
MacDonald said the athletes did an excellent job of representing the Yukon both in competition and outside of it.
“They’ve all been to national games and regional games in the past — some of our athletes have been to worlds — so this is not new to them,” said MacDonald. “They’re just awesome ambassadors for us here in the Yukon.”
For MacDonald, the games were also a chance to reconnect with a handful of people he met during police postings prior to moving to Whitehorse, including a volunteer from Burns Lake, B.C., and an athlete and coach from Drumheller, Alta.
“You meet people along the way through Special Olympics, whether they are athletes or coaches, and when you come to these regional and national sporting events, it gives you a chance to reconnect with them and see how they’re doing,” said MacDonald. “It’s very inspiring.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org