Yukon orienteerers gather six medals at North Americans

Yukoners had their map-reading skills put to the test at the 2014 North American Orienteering Championship recently.

Yukoners had their map-reading skills put to the test at the 2014 North American Orienteering Championship recently.

Competitors had to keep a keen eye on the subtle contours on the maps at the international competition held in Arnprior, Ont., just outside of Ottawa, ending on Oct. 13.

“It was really, really technical,” said Whitehorse’s Brent Langbakk. “Anybody from Ontario knows Canadian Shield … It had really low relief, so really intricate contour detail. That made it really challenging for navigation. So technical ability counted for a lot.”

Thirteen members of the Yukon Orienteering Association competed at the championship, navigating to six medals and a number of top-10 results.

Langbakk, who was recently named director of Orienteering Canada’s high performance teams, was responsible for two of Yukon’s medals.

Langbakk won gold in the middle distance race – with a slim margin of three seconds over the silver medalist – and gold in the long in the men’s 35+ division. He then finished seventh in the sprint.

“On some courses, those who are really fit get an advantage. In the forest terrain there, it was a real advantage to be strong technically,” said Langbakk. “Hence my good results, because I’m not very fit at the moment.”

Yukon’s Nesta Leduc won three medals in the two-person 80+ female division. She raced to gold in the long and sprint distances and claimed silver in the middle. Leduc won two bronze medals at the 2013 World Masters Orienteering Championships in Italy.

Trevor Bray took in Yukon’s sixth medal, in the highly competitive 17-20 elite males division.

The 19-year-old, who has competed for Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championships the last three years, won bronze in the middle distance. He then placed 13th in the long and 10th in the sprint, held in an urban setting.

“It was a fairly good race, I had,” said Bray of the middle. “It was very flat terrain … So you had to be super careful because once you’re lost, it’s really hard to relocate on that terrain.”

“I was really focused on the orienteering, not worrying about my physical fitness level at that point. That’s what the middle is all about. It’s not a runners’ race, it’s about being calm, using all your skills correctly. So I think that’s what helped me succeed in the middle.”

Whitehorse’s Leif Blake was close behind Bray in the middle for the same division. Blake placed fourth out of 24 racers in the race, just a minute and 16 seconds behind Bray on the 4.3-kilometre course.

“I’d say Leif Blake coming fourth in the middle distance is a massive result,” said Langbakk. “That’s really good because he’s quite young in the 17-20 age category and that’s by far his best result at a major competition.”

Blake also scored 16th in the long and sprint in Arnprior.

Yukon’s Barbara Scheck really picked up her game after the middle. After placing 16th in the middle for the 55+ female division, Scheck took fifth in the long and fourth in the sprint.

Forest Pearson split his time between divisions and placed 24th in the long for 21-34 elite males before taking ninth in the sprint for 35+ males.

Kerstin Burnett was in the teens across the board for the 21-34 elite females. She took 14th in the long, 15th in the sprint and 17th in the middle.

Caelan McLean twice cracked the top 20 in the tough 17-20 elite males with 15th in the middle and 11th in the sprint.

Colin Abbott navigated to 15th in the sprint and 21st in the long for 21-34 elite males.

Sabine Schweiger squeezed into single digits with ninth in the long for 45+ females. She also picked up 12th in the middle and 15th in the sprint.

Other top Yukon results include Ross Burnett 12th in the middle for 35+ males, Erik Blake 19th in the long for 45+ males and Bruce McLean 43rd in the long for 55+ males.

It was another successful season for the Yukon Orienteering Association. Yukon had two athletes – Bray and Pia Blake – compete at the junior worlds in Bulgaria, both producing top finishes for the Canadian team.

Yukoners also collected 20 medals at the Canadian Orienteering Championships

and then nine at the western championships in August.

Contact Tom Patrick at