Yukon orienteerers win 17 national medals in three provinces

This year's Canadian Orienteering Championships involved a fair bit of navigation between races as well as in them.

This year’s Canadian Orienteering Championships involved a fair bit of navigation between races as well as in them.

Each of the three races – the sprint, middle and long – took place in a different province within the 2015 Maritime Orienteering Festival from Aug. 16 to Aug. 23.

“There was slightly more travel time than we’re used to,” said Whitehorse’s Brent Langbakk. “Usually at the Canadian championships the races are all together on successive days, like Friday, Saturday, Sunday. This time they were spread over two weekends and the week in between, and it was neat.”

Yukoners navigated to medals in all three provinces. The 10 Yukoners won 17, including 11 gold, in their trip from New Brunswick to P.E.I. to Nova Scotia.

Langbakk, who was competing in the over-35 male category, was one of two Yukoners to win three gold at the championships, beginning in the middle distance championship in Hillsborough, New Brunswick on Aug. 16.

“It was held on the site of an old gypsum mine,” said Langbakk. “Now it’s all overgrown with forest on top of it. There were all these man-made depressions and pits. It was really interesting, really different.”

The other triple-gold winner for Yukon was Nesta Leduc in the women’s over-80 division. The long distance, held at the province’s largest skill resort in Wentworth, N.S. on Saturday, is one that stands out in her mind.

“It was a long course and fairly difficult,” said Leduc. “I felt good that I managed to get through. I made a big error at the first control, but after that I did reasonably well.

“It was on top of a ski hill and us old ladies and old men got a ride up to the top, which was really nice. Even though you think you’re coming downhill, there was a fair bit of climb. You made errors, got down too low, had to go back up – that sort of thing.”

Two other Yukoners collected a medal in each race, including the sprint distance held on the University of Prince Edward Island campus on Thursday.

Pia Blake, who recently represented Canada at the junior worlds, won hardware in each race in the women’s 17-20 category. She took gold in the middle, gold in the sprint and placed fourth in the long, taking the bronze since the winner was from an American ineligible for medals.

Yukon’s Sabine Schweiger nabbed gold in the sprint as well as two bronze in the women’s over-45 division.

Whitehorse’s Forest Pearson finished with a red-letter result. Pearson, who is in his early 40s, competed in the elite males 21-34 division. He placed seventh in the middle, missed a punch in the sprint, but won silver in the long.

“I think that was the performance of the championships, from a Yukon perspective,” said Langbakk.

Forest’s son Phineas Pearson also took in a medal in the beginner category for the sprint. Phineas placed second for gold behind an athlete from the U.K.

Other Yukon medalists include Leif Blake with gold and silver in males 17-20 and Barbara Scheck with a silver and bronze in women over-55. Erik Blake placed fifth in the long for males over-45 and Trevor Bray seventh in the sprint for males 17-20.

“Most of it was quite tough this year, especially the last one,” said Leduc, who had one other competitor in her division. “I just came back from the world masters in Sweden where I didn’t do so well … And the Six Day in Scotland, where I actually came first out of eight people. So that felt better than getting gold at the Canadians.”

Contact Tom Patrick at