Yukon orienteerers bag medals at Canadian championships

A last-minute change of venue didn’t stop Yukon orienteerers from navigating to hardware at nationals this past week.

A last-minute change of venue didn’t stop Yukon orienteerers from navigating to hardware at nationals this past week.

Due to an abounding presence of bears at the Canmore Nordic Centre, three events at the Canadian Orienteering Championships were moved with just days to go last week. Still, five of the nine Yukon racers at the event claimed podium finishes at the event in and around Calgary Saturday to Monday.

“The organizers had an extremely difficult task in setting this up,” said Afan Jones, president of the Yukon Orienteering Association. “The middle distance event — the first one — on Saturday was held about 25 kilometres east of Canmore just off the Trans-Canada at a place called Rafter Six Ranch, which has been a traditional venue for orienteering, and it went off without a hitch. The next three events — the long, the sprint and the sprint relay — were scheduled to be held at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Last Thursday they were told by the Alberta Provincial Parks Agency they could not hold the event there. They had to switch the venue of those three events at the last minute.”

Yukoners collected a total of nine medals at the championships. A couple of Yukoners — Jones and Nesta Leduc — won two gold each.

Jones took first in the middle distance on Saturday and first in the long distance on Sunday in the men’s 55+ division. He then took 11th in the sprints — held on the University of Calgary campus — on Monday.

“I’m not a sprinter. Before the race I joked that I definitely won’t be in the top 10, so indeed I placed 11th,” said Jones.

Leduc won gold in the middle and long events, in the women’s 80+ division, before skipping the sprint on Monday. She also won two gold and a silver a week early at the Western Canadian Orienteering Championships in Hinton, Alta.

“She’s like a model for the rest of us. She just carries on,” said Jones. “It’s a lifetime sport for her — she’s in her 80s — and still makes her way around. She says she doesn’t run anymore, but we’re still very impressed she gets out to all these events and makes her way around the continent and around the world to compete.”

Forest Pearson, who is older than 21-34, raced that elite men’s division and took two medals. Pearson won bronze in the middle and silver in the long, finishing fourth and fifth in the races, but was third and second for Canadians. (Only Canadians are eligible for medals.)

In the same division Leif Blake, who recently raced at the junior worlds in Switzerland, placed third overall — second for Canadians — for silver in the middle distance.

Yukon’s Sabine Schweiger was another two-medal winner. She took silver in the long event for women 45+ and silver in the sprint (third overall behind a Scottish competitor.)

Whitehorse’s Trevor Bray placed 18th in the middle and 10th in the sprint in the tough men’s 21-34 division, and in the middle broke it open finishing fourth for Canadians in the long distance event Sunday.

“That’s a great result for him,” said Jones.

Jennifer MacKeigan placed 11th in the middle, 10th in the sprint in the elite women’s 21-34 division with a missed control in the long. She also produced three top-10 finishes at the westerns, topping out with a fifth in the long the week before.

Erik Blake took seventh in the middle, 13th in the long and 11th in the sprint for men 45+.

Darryl Bray, who was in a non-competitive beginner division, raced to third in the sprint and seventh in the long.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com