Yukon orienteerers crack top 100 at junior worlds

Team Canada is on track to having its most successful showing at the Junior World Orienteering Championship taking place this week in Kosice, Slovakia. Three Yukoners are helping make that happen.

Team Canada is on track to having its most successful showing at the Junior World Orienteering Championship taking place this week in Kosice, Slovakia. Three Yukoners are helping make that happen.

Whitehorse athletes Kendra Murray, Kerstin Burnett and Trevor Bray are on the Canadian team in Slovakia, facing the best the world has to offer.

Murray, the only of the three competing in her second junior worlds, has been a standout.

The 19-year-old placed 65th out of 140 competitors in the women’s sprint event on Sunday. She was Canada’s top finisher and completed the 2.3-kilometre course in 14 minutes and 0.4 seconds, just 2:47.6 behind the first-place finisher.

“I was feeling good before the start, ready and focused,” said Murray in an email to the News. “However, I ended up making a mistake right off the bat, so it took a couple more controls to get into the rhythm of the race. I ended up running half the race with a girl from Norway, which was also nice because it increased my running speed while giving me the confidence… All in all, I stuck to my goals for this race, and was very pleased with the end result.”

Murray then took 109th in Monday’s long distance event.

“I was not as happy with my long result,” said Murray. “However, there were parts of the race that I was super happy with as they were really smooth with good technique. Other parts didn’t go quite as well.”

Burnett, 19, navigated to 111th in the sprint and reached 100th in the long distance race.

“I did not really have a goal in mind for results but I am happy with my placing in the long,” said Burnett in an email. “More importantly, I am happy with how I raced, though I had several mistakes too. There was one very long leg with difficult navigation and route choice – I would have done well on it if I stuck to my planned route, but partway through I decided to take a ‘short cut’ and got really turned around. The forest was thicker there, so all the depressions that I was navigating by seemed larger than they really were. I eventually got back to a trail from my original route and continued on.”

Bray hasn’t had as much success. But at 17 years old, he is one of the youngest in the championships and could potentially compete in two more junior worlds in the coming years.

Bray placed 161st in the sprint and was disqualified in the long distance event after missing a control – though “missed” might not be the right word. Bray found the control point, which was at a water station, took a drink and forgot to punch the control. It was over 30 degrees Celsius out.

“Surprisingly my long race was almost perfect – if I had punched the control that had a water station,” said Bray in an email. “I was just thinking about how thirsty I was … and completely forgot about the control. Even though I was disqualified I had a very good time and was extremely happy with my race in the end.”

Canada had a major breakthrough at the junior worlds on Monday. Ottawa’s Emily Kemp won Canada its first-ever medal at the championships, taking bronze in the long distance. It is only the third medal ever won by a North American at the event.

“Our focus is on technique and tactics during the races,” said Brent Langbakk, the Canadian junior team coach and Whitehorse resident. “In the sprint, we were thrilled with the athletes’ performances. It was really nice to see Trevor and Kerstin execute so well in their first big international competition. Racing in a European city with cheering spectators, announcers, with the pressure that comes with performing for your country is a big change from being virtually alone in the forest around Whitehorse. I think we prepared them well, and they handled it like old pros.”

Tuesday was a day off from competition. The championship continued on Wednesday with the middle-distance qualifier and the final on Thursday. The junior worlds will end with a relay event on Friday.

“This entire experience has been surreal,” said Bray. “People actually come out to the races to cheer you on.”

“It is exciting to be staying in a university dorm building with all the other athletes from around the world – it builds a sense of community when we are all together,” added Burnett. “Everyone seems pretty friendly.”

Contact Tom Patrick at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ivan, centre, and Tennette Dechkoff, right, stop to chat with a friend on Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. Starting Dec. 1 masks will be mandatory in public spaces across the Yukon in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read