Yukon’s hopes for wrestling ulus are resting on the shoulders of two young men.
Whitehorse’s Ryan Thompson and Joseph Melanson will make up Yukon’s wrestling team at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games this March in Fairbanks, Alaska. Team trials were hosted by the Wrestling Association of the Yukon on Jan. 25.
“The team is smaller than I would have hoped, but I think both gentlemen we have wrestling should have a good chance at coming home with a medal,” said Yukon wrestling coach Rob Langmaid.
Melanson, 17, will wrestle in the 62-kilogram weight class and Thompson, 15, in the 82-kilogram weight class.
Thompson won gold in the 75-kilogram class at the 2012 Yukon Elementary Wrestling Championship, helping his Hidden Valley Elementary School win the best performing school trophy at the annual championship.
Melanson, who recently moved from Nunavut with his family, has a background in judo and has collected medals at some major competitions.
He was also an alternate for Nunavut’s wrestling team at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games.
“Ryan has come up through the wrestling program in the Yukon, has competed at the elementary tournament several different years, and has been a member of the Whitehorse wrestling club this last year,” said Langmaid. “Joseph’s wrestling background was with Nunavut before his family transferred to Whitehorse this past summer. He’s also been training with the Yukon wrestling club.”
Langmaid has been coaching wrestling for eight years, including at the high school level in New Brunswick and Manitoba. He then coached the Watson Lake team for three years before moving to Whitehorse this year.
As an athlete, Langmaid wrestled at the university and national level, at one point holding a fifth-place national ranking for his weight class.
“Ryan has been working on leg attacks as his main go-to move and Joseph’s background is in judo and he is comfortable with leg attacks and throws,” he added.
Yukon had a team of six wrestlers at the 2012 Arctic Games in Whitehorse, which was the first Yukon wrestling squad to compete at the Arctics in a decade.
Yukon won a gold, silver and bronze in wrestling at the 2012 Games.
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