Yukon skaters win ulus on ice

Bryn Hoffman took a couple of tumbles during the Arctic Winter Games figure skating finals on Wednesday night. But that didn't stop the 14-year-old Yukoner from winning gold in the Ladies 4 Free Program.

Bryn Hoffman took a couple of tumbles during the Arctic Winter Games figure skating finals on Wednesday night.

But that didn’t stop the 14-year-old Yukoner from winning gold in the Ladies 4 Free Program.

“I wasn’t really that happy with the skate I just did,” said Hoffman, after learning she won a gold ulu.

“But I guess, I got good credit for my spins.”

Hoffman was competing against skaters from Russia, Alaska, N.W.T. and Alberta.

But it was fellow Yukoner Rachel Pettitt who was her biggest threat.

The 13-year-old Pettitt took home a silver ulu on Thursday, coming in less than a point behind Hoffman.

Both girls received plenty of hometown applause.

But it was Russian skater Anna Gorodnicheva who got the loudest cheers from a section of Russian male teammates who sat in the stands, pounding the glass and clutching pink carnations to throw on the ice.

Team Alaska also had a huge cheering squad for Xinghua Turner, who took home bronze.

Some of the skaters who didn’t win medals had what appeared to be perfect skates, while some who took home ulus had several falls.

“The new judging system is very different,” said Yukon figure skating team coach Michelle Gorczyca.

Points are no longer automatically deducted for falls, she said.

So Hoffman, despite her tumbles, didn’t lose as many points.

“And her spins are very high level,” said Gorczyca. “So this helped keep her (points) up.”

It was a great night for the Yukon, she added.

Most of the Yukon team skated like they do in practice, or better, she said, although nerves did take a toll on some of the girls.

“I just reassure them and tell them they’ve worked hard, it’s a privilege to be here and to go out and have fun,” said Gorczyca.

Hoffman wasn’t too nervous on Thursday, but she was nervous before the short program earlier in the week.

“I yelled funny stuff to friends and I guess that helped,” she said.

Hoffman walked away with a gold ulu for the short program too, while Pettitt was just two points behind, winning silver.

The combined scores for the short and long programs earned Hoffman another gold ulu and Pettitt another silver in the Ladies 4 final standing.

“I tell my skaters to skate because they love it, and if they do that the outcome will be positive,” said Gorczyca. “Because you can’t control the other skaters or the marks.”

At the 2010 Arctic Games in Grande Prairie, Alta., Hoffman also won gold in both the long and short programs, together earning her a third gold for best overall in the Ladies 3 division.

This is Pettitt’s first Arctic Games. But she also represented the territory at the Canada Winter Games last February in Halifax, where she came 13th overall in the pre-novice division.

Hoffman was also in Halifax, taking sixth in her short program to produce the highest finish by a Yukoner at the Games since 2003.

Skating in the Ladies 3 program this year for the Yukon are Kelcy Armstrong and Maya Austin.

At the 2010 Games, Austin won bronze in the Ladies 2 long program and came seventh in the short. She also competed at the 2008 Games, finishing eighth in Ladies 1.

Armstrong came fourth in both programs in Ladies 1 at the 2010 Games.

This year in the final standings for the Ladies 3 short and long programs combined, Armstrong came fourth while Austin placed ninth.

In the Ladies 2 final standings, Yukoners Maria Peters and Taylor Schneider came sixth and ninth respectively.

In the Ladies 1 final standings, Yukoner Marika Kitchen came seventh while Kristen LeGrow came ninth.

Contact Genesee Keevil at


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