Caelan McLean leaves the start area of the first race in the Coast Mountain Sports Sprint Series on April 11 near Takhini Elementary School. McLean finished third in the male elite category of the series with a point total of 3,700. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Yukon Orienteering Association’s sprint series concludes on World Orienteering Day

“That’s really promising, too – to see an interest in the sport.”

The 2019 Coast Mountain Sports Sprint Series came to an end with race five on May 16, World Orienteering Day.

A new addition to the orienteering calendar in the Yukon, the series was started as a way to begin the season earlier than usual.

Erik Blake, who organized the series with his wife Sabine Schweiger, said holding the sprint series early in the season makes a ton of sense and will likely continue next year as well.

“We’ll do the same thing,” said Blake. “We’ll run it early in the season just because the snow is gone from the streets before it is gone from the woods and that was one of the reasons to try to get some orienteering in a little bit earlier in the season.”

This year’s series consisted of five races – it was modeled off a series Blake and Schweiger participated in while living in Norway – with the four best results going into each athlete’s score.

Impressively, three competitors achieved perfect scores of 4,000 – each race awards 1,000 points to the winner in a given category.

Colin Abbott finished with a perfect score in the male elite category, Forest Pearson had a perfect score in the male 35 and above category and Barbara Scheck had a perfect score in the female 55 and above category.

Since each sprint race used just one course, on paper the series would be a challenge for younger orienteers who are used to forest courses with more frequent flag markings – that wasn’t the case in practice.

“The thing that was really nice to see and gratifying was all the young kids that were involved managed to complete the courses,” said Blake. “That’s something we were worried about. We had this one-course format, which is nice because everybody can compare their races with one another. … We were worried the younger kids would struggle, but they performed better than we expected, which was really gratifying.”

Five people raced at least once in the 12 and under category – some unassisted, some in pairs and some with an adult helper.

The winner in the 12 and under category was Stian Langbakk with 3,522 points. Second place went to Micah McConnell with 1,678 points and third place went to Kieran Horton with 1,498 points.

As already mentioned, Abbott was the top racer in the male elite category with a 4,000-point total. Second place went to Leif Blake with 3,723 points and Caelan McLean was third with 3,700 points.

The overall winner in the female elite category was Pia Blake with 3,869 points, followed by Jane Hollenberg with 3,832 points and Jennifer MacKeigan with 3,622 points.

Both Pia and MacKeigan are heading to Norway in August for the World Orienteering Championships as part of Team Canada.

In the male 35 and above category, Pearson’s perfect 4,000 points was followed by Denoit Turcotte with 3,719 points and Darren Holcolmbe with 3,397 points.

Lara Melnik won the female 35 and above category with 3,357 points. Judith van Gulick was second with 3,178 points and Rima Khouri was third with 2,637 points.

In the male 55 and above category, Bruce McLean was first with a 3,756 total, followed by Bob Sagar with 3,485 points and Afan Jones with 3,000 points.

The final individual category – female 55 and above – had the final perfect score as Scheck finished with 4,000 points. Second spot went to Deb Kiemele with 3,310 points and third spot went to Nesta Leduc with 1,009 points.

Rounding out the results was the team category. Little Red Running Shorts finished first with 3,199 points, followed by Salix Madsen with 3,152 points and Selena and Scott with 2,886 points.

The success of the youngest orienteers is a reflection of the Yukon Orienteering Association’s junior program that, although not connected to the sprint series, has close to 70 participants this year.

“The junior program that’s running right now is the biggest we’ve ever had,” said Erik. “That’s really promising, too – to see an interest in the sport. … That bodes well for the future of the sport in Yukon.”

With the sprint series officially in the books, attention firmly shifts to both the ongoing regular meets held every second Wednesday for most of July and August as well as the Yukon Championships in June – the middle distance is June 5, the sprint distance in June 12 and the long distance is June 19.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

2019 Coast Mountain Sports Sprint Series category results

12 and under

1 Stian Langbakk 3532

2 Micah McConnell 1678

3 Kieran Horton 1498

4 Minty Bradford and Micah McConnell 1000

5 Jonah McConnell 1000

Male elite

1 Colin Abbott 4000

2 Leif Blake 3723

3 Caelan McLean 3700

4 Martin Slama 2583

5 David Mills 1353

6 Elias Sagar 997

7 David Bakker 898

8 Matthias Purdon 756

9 Jeremy Johnson 653

Female elite

1 Pia Blake 3869

2 Jane Hollenberg 3832

3 Jennifer MacKeigan 3622

4 Emilie Stewart-Jones 3316

5 Bryn Knight 2991

6 Emily Tredger 1580

7 Emma Seward 1476

8 Dahria Beatty 1000

9 Alison Sadler 693

10 Justine Scheck 674

11 Paulina Gallinat 630

12 Julie McVicar 555

Male 35 and above

1 Forest Pearson 4000

2 Benoit Turcotte 3719

3 Darren Holcolmbe 3397

4 Dave Hildes 3324

5 Brent Langbakk 2915

6 Brian Horton 965

7 Adam Scheck 832

8 Shea Newnham 519

Female 35 and above

1 Lara Melnik 3357

2 Judith van Gulick 3178

3 Rima Khouri 2637

4 Kris Gardner 2311

5 Virginia Sarrazin 2000

6 Sara Nielsen 1857

Male 55 and above

1 Bruce McLean 3756

2 Bob Sagar 3485

3 Afan Jones 3000

4 Craig Brooks 1846

Women 55 and above

1 Barbara Scheck 4000

2 Deb Kiemele 3310

3 Nesta Leduc 1009

4 Karen McKenna 723

5 Jill Pangman 628

Teams

1 Little Red Running Shorts 3199

2 Salix Madsen 3152

3 Selena and Scott 2886

4 Coconut and Olives 2243

5 Dominators 2 1609

6 The Dominators 1607

7 Cheetahs 1500

8 M&H 1000

9 Xavier Macht 1000

10 The Misfits 842

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