Whitehorse skater claims silver at world championship

Whitehorse’s Michael Sumner could hardly contain his excitement on Friday. The 16-year-old figure skater won silver at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Whitehorse’s Michael Sumner could hardly contain his excitement on Friday.

The 16-year-old figure skater won silver at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

“I was about to scream out loud because I won my first medal at my first World Winter Games,” Sumner told the News in an interview from Pyeongchang. “I just felt excited.”

The Team Canada skater’s medal did not come easy. Sumner took the silver after placing fifth in the compulsory elements. Some tweaking of his routine, which had a Pirates of the Caribbean theme, allowed Sumner to move up three spots in the free event.

“Instead of doing my first jump – a little jump – I did a little bit bigger off my toe kick,” said Sumner. “And that got me higher marks.

“I think I did a marvelous job on my whole performance. I had a lot of fun doing it… I put the Yukon on the map.”

Sumner finished just a half point behind Japan’s Takumi Satoh and just ahead of Russia’s Aleksander Kalinichev.

“He did an awesome job,” said Cathy Skinner, Sumner’s Team Canada coach. “When he was getting ready to go on the ice, I asked, ‘Are you ready?’ and he said, ‘I was born ready.’

“He skated really fast, which gained him a lot of marks as well. He had a lot of energy, performed for the crowd and rose to the occasion. He was great.”

Sumner’s is the 10th trip to the world championship by a Special Olympics Yukon athlete. He is the second figure skater and the first male figure skater to go from the territory. Yukon’s Katharine Hall competed in figure skating at the worlds in 1993.

“The whole team is cheering on everyone else who’s still skating,” said Sumner. “I’ve enjoyed it. I get to relax when I go back to the dorm and hangout with my roommate, try different food, meet different people and trade different pins from all over the world.”

Sumner was announced to Team Canada last April following a gold medal-winning performance at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games the previous month in St. Albert, Alta. He qualified for the Canada Winter Games by winning silver at the B.C. provincial championships in 2011.

The day before leaving for the world championships, Sumner was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by Yukon MP Ryan Leef.

Sumner finds all the attention he’s been receiving rather thrilling, but it’s not over yet.

Special Olympics Yukon is asking Whitehorse to come cheer Sumner on as he returns home at the Whitehorse airport on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

“I’ve heard from my dad, granddad and my mother that everyone has mentioned my name a couple times on radio stations and my picture and name was in the paper,” said Sumner. “That’s pretty darn exciting for me.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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