Team Yukon enters during the Opening Ceremonies at the Canada Games Centre for the start of the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)

Team Yukon prepares for the Arctic Winter Games

‘We want them to perform to the best of their abilities’

With the Arctic Winter Games rapidly approaching, rosters are being determined and the final trials are being held for Team Yukon.

Trevor Twardochleb, chef de mission for Team Yukon, said that the Arctic Winter Games International Committee set the limit for the Yukon contingent at 335 people and he expects approximately 270 athletes to make the trip to the Northwest Territories to compete in the games.

“I know if you were to fill all of the sports, that would be over that number,” said Twardochleb. “Generally speaking, some of the sports don’t have full contingents.”

The rest of the contingent is made up of a cultural team, coaches, managers and mission staff.

The limit on team size came about at the 2016 Greenland games in response to the difficulty of transporting people from the main airport in Kangerlussuaq to the capital Nuuk. Since Fort Smith and Hay River are both smaller communities, the decision was made to stick with it.

Team Yukon will be transported to and from the games via charter flights with Air North directly into the host communities and as a result, athletes will be at the games for the whole event, regardless of individual competition schedules.

“We charter there and we charter back, so you’re there for the entire duration of the games, even though your competition might just be three days,” said Twardochleb.

Although the sport and recreation branch of the department of community services is ultimately responsible for the organization of Team Yukon, cooperation with the various sport governing bodies within the territory is key to making the whole thing possible.

“We rely heavily on each of the sport governing bodies to do the trials, so they’re totally responsible for coming up with a final roster,” said Twardochleb. “We send out guidelines for them in terms of how they have to run their trials, but the sports themselves pick their teams, their coaches and send their final rosters into our branch.”

Sport Yukon, a non-profit society, also assists with the administrative responsibilities, and Twardochleb said ultimately the whole territory-wide sports structure is needed to prepare for the games.

Planning for the Arctic Winter Games started nearly two years beforehand with meetings between the host society and the international committee. Representatives from each contingent attend mission meetings a year to six months before the competition, and then it comes down to Twardochleb and his staff planning all the necessary arrangements for Team Yukon and ensuring details are taken care of.

“The planning starts quite a ways back and then it’s just a matter of preparing your team and preparing every little aspect so that those teams can go there and feel confident that everything is looked after,” said Twardochleb.

Team Yukon traditionally finishes high on the medal table, but winning isn’t a priority.

Everybody has a different idea of how they measure success,” said Twardochleb. “We see these games as a developmental games from the government perspective.… We’re hoping that everybody goes there to really enjoy themselves in terms of what the games have to offer culturally, socially and then on the competitive field.”

“We want them to perform to the best of their abilities, so if that means coming back with a medal, then that’s fantastic. But for the most part, we want them to go there and improve their skills, have fun and be really good ambassadors of the Yukon.”

The Arctic Winter Games will run from March 18-24 in the communities of Hay River and Fort Smith.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at

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