Judo Yukon sent four athletes to compete at the first-ever Arctic Open last weekend and none left empty-handed.
The Yukon team fought to three gold and a silver at the tournament, hosted by N.W.T. Judo, on Saturday in Yellowknife, N.W.T.
“It was the first time Yellowknife has run a tournament – I would guess since back in the ‘70s. This is the first tournament they’ve held in at least 10 years or more,” said Aaron Jensen, sensei of Whitehorse’s Shiroumakai Judo Club (SHK). “(Judo N.W.T. president) Mario des Forges and us are huge proponents of getting judo back into the Arctic Winter Games. Basically his idea was to create a new tournament called the Arctic Open to show the government, to show the sports world, that there is judo in Yukon, N.W.T. and Nunavut, as well as Alaska. So that’s why we went.”
The tournament saw about 45 judokas compete, representing all three of Canada’s territories, including the communities of Rankin Inlet, Aklavik, Hay River and Yellowknife.
Yellow-belted sisters Jaymi and Lia Hinchey of Whitehorse’s Northern Lights Judo Club (NLJ) both went undefeated in their divisions for gold.
SHK’s Cassi Jensen and Daniel Tonner, who are both green belts, competed in the five-person mixed U14 lightweight division.
Tonner defeated Cassi in their fight, but Cassi came away with a better win-loss record for gold. Tonner finished with the silver.
“We knew it was going to be a small tournament and our kids might not have anybody in their specific age-weight categories to fight,” said Aaron. “But it was worth going to represent … To show all three territories aligned.”
Even the Yukoners not competing earned medals. Aaron and NLJ sensei Dan Poelman were presented ulus for reffing fights.
SHK’s Mackenzie Tonner, who is recovering from a concussion, earned an ulu for her work as Yukon’s team manager in Yellowknife.
“She didn’t have to fight, so she didn’t have any of that prep or worry or anxieties,” said Aaron. “I left her with my phone and she videoed all our fights. So it was handy.”
Yukon’s four competitors in Yellowknife have already had plenty of success at home. All of them have earned gold medals at Yukon club championships so far this season.