Mount Aurora Skiland in Fairbanks was unfamiliar territory for Yukon’s alpine ski team.
None had skied there before, but you’d think it was a regular vacation spot.
The team sped to six medals at Skiland during the Arctic Winter Games last week. That’s three times more medals as the 2012 Games on their home turf in Whitehorse.
Yukon won five medals in individual races and pocketed a bronze in the team event for the second Games in a row.
For team veteran Josie Storey, a last-minute equipment change made things extra interesting.
“It was pretty eventful, my skis broke on the slalom day – the heel part broke – and I had to use my coach’s for the slalom and the kombi,” said Storey.
Using stiffer skis 10 centimetres longer than her own didn’t seem to affect her performance much. Storey won gold in the kombi – a combination race that transitions from giant slalom to slalom and back into giant slalom – in junior female. She also carved up silver in slalom.
“I guess I was able to work them enough,” said Storey. “It was stressful at first but once I got used to them there wasn’t much difference.”
Teammate Katie Vowk brought home the same medals with gold in slalom and silver in giant slalom in juvenile female. Vowk also took eighth in the kombi.
“She’s been on the team a couple of years and this was her first Arctic Games and it’s quite exciting for her to bring back two medals,” said Yukon head coach Yves Titley.
Yukon’s Abby Hawes, who like Storey was in her third and final Arctics, won bronze in slalom for junior female. She also came fourth in giant slalom.
Other top Yukon results include Tayler Mitchell placing fifth in the slalom for junior female; Charlie Hawes fourth in slalom and fifth in giant slalom in juvenile male; Samantha Richardson fifth in slalom in juvenile female; Shane Orban sixth in giant slalom in juvenile male; Liam Diamond, who was competing up an age division, fifth in the kombi for junior male; Angus Endress eighth in giant slalom for juvenile male; Manas Sarin-Toews sixth in the slalom and the kombi in junior male; Zackary Endress seventh in the kombi for junior male.
“They all trained very well, it’s just a question of if they hit a rut on race day,” said Titley. “They are two-run races and if you hit a small rut and wipe out, you’re out of the medal round … But that’s the name of the game, that’s ski racing.”
All the territory’s skiers are members of the Yukon Alpine Race Team. Storey, who was the only Yukon skier to win a medal in an individual event at the 2012 Games, had fastest overall both days at the Yukon Cup earlier this month.
“It’s been really fun,” said Storey. “We do a lot of stuff together. We’ve met a lot of people from the Alaska team and Alberta team and when we go to the hill we’re all like really good friends and we all hangout together.”
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