One could easily argue Yukon’s athletes had one of the best years on record – there are many more accomplishments than can be printed here.
The following is a recap of some Yukon athletes’ accomplishments over the last year.
Just weeks after being named International Male Athlete of the Year by Sport Yukon, Olympian Zach Bell began the season in Colombia winning his first World Cup cycling race. He then returned to China, where he finished seventh in the points race at the 2008 Olympics, to win a silver in another World Cup and come seventh in the scratch event. Bell was named athlete of the year for the second time in December.
For the third year in a row, Team Yukon is the best in the country after defending its title at the national snow carving competition in Quebec City. Their winning piece depicted paddlers stumbling upon a mother bear and her cubs during a portage.
“We wanted to portray some of the things that go on in the Yukon,” said Team Yukon member Donald C. Watt.
A couple weeks later, Team Yukon won silver in the International Snow Sculpture Competition at the Quebec Winter Carnival.
Mid-month Yukon cross-country skier Owen Munroe won two bronze medals at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.
“It was warm down there and I really liked it,” said Munroe, who was just 21 at the time. “We had to go up high to Sun Valley to ski.”
In another international event, local junior musher Ben Kinvig, 16, took gold and his sister Rachel took fifth in their respective fields at the Junior World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska.
At the Haywood Ski Nationals in Collingwood, Ontario, Whitehorse’s Dahria Beatty won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze in the juvenile girls category. She was later named Territorial/National Female Athlete of the Year for her accomplishments, which continued into summer sports.
David Greer also won two silvers, and other medalists included Janelle Greer, Jeff Wood, Logan Potter and Lee Hawkings.
Whitehorse’s Wayne Morrissey ended the month on target, finishing first at the BC Provincials dart championships.
Whitehorse’s adventurous couple, Greg and Denise McHale, started the year battling minus 30 Celsius temperatures on a 225-kilometre course, winning their divisions at the Rock and Ice Ultra in Yellowknife, NWT.
The month also saw Yukon softball guru George Arcand being awarded Community Service Prestige Award from the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance for his years of dedication in Whitehorse’s sports community.
Getting some notice from NHL scouts, Whitehorse native Ted Stephens received an invitation to the Montreal Canadiens drafting camp, but could not attend. He would later be named National/Territorial Male Athlete of the Year for his work with the Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
At the Canadian Skills Competition in Charlottetown, PEI, Yukon brought home six medals, including the territory’s first gold medal in 11 years of competing, won by Whitehorse’s Denis Godin, 17.
In a rather light month of national and international competition, Joel Macht swam, ran and cycled his way to win the Whitehorse Triathlon for the second year straight.
Competing in the 2009 Special Olympics BC Provincial Summer Games in Abbotsford, BC, Yukoners took in seven medals. Whitehorse’s Jessica Pruden won two gold and a silver while teammate Owen Munroe won a gold and a silver. Other medals were won in soccer and bocce.
After travelling a total of 4,262 kilometres in distance and over 2,100 metres in altitude in 67 days, Yukoners Devon McDiarmid and Derek Crowe, with British adventurer Adrian Hayes, finished their journey, kite-skiing from the base of Greenland to the northern tip, and back down part way.
Continuing a swim season that would eventually balloon into one of the great success stories of the year, Whitehorse Glacier Bear Alexandra Gabor helped Team Canada to a eighth-place finish in a relay and finished 20th in the 200-metre freestyle at the World Aquatic Championships in Rome.
The same month Gabor, 16, went on to win four medals including two gold at the Canada Summer Games in PEI, thereby single-handedly tripling the total amount of medals the Yukon had ever won at the Summer Games. In December, she was named International Female Athlete of the Year by Sport Yukon.
The year’s largest medal haul by a Yukon team came early in the month: 17 medals at the Canadian Orienteering Championships in Manitoba. Whitehorse’s Nesta Leduc, won gold in all three events in the women’s 75-plus category while teammates Jennifer Mackeigan and Lee Hawkings won two gold and a silver; Dahria Beatty grabbed a silver and two bronze; and Kendra Murray snagged the variety pack with a gold, silver and bronze. Pam James, a three-time national team member, won a silver and a bronze.
Only over the hill when he cycles over one, Whitehorse’s Mike McCann was the overall cycling champion in the 60-64 age division at the Huntsman World Senior Games in Saint George, Utah. For the title, McCann was first in a five-kilometre hillclimb and in a 40-kilometre time trial, and finished with a third-place finish in a 62-kilometre race.
“There were some very strong people in the field and if one of them had a better ride, let’s say in the time trial or the hill climb, the results could have been different,” said McCann.
The Whitehorse’s Rapids Speed Skating Club started the season on the right skate, winning three medals at the Edmonton Fall Classic in Alberta. Taking in the medals were Heather Clarke with a silver and Shea Hoffman with a silver and a bronze.
Ending the swim season in style, Alexandra Gabor won gold in the 200-metre freestyle at the Canada Cup in Toronto.
In the weeks leading up to the Canada Cup, Gabor also won two bronze medals at two World Cup events in Sweden and Germany.
Denise McHale defended her Canadian 100K Championship title in BC, slicing almost an hour off the course record.
Defying gravity at the World Weightlifting Championships in Seoul, Korea, Yukoner Emily Quarton, 25, lifted her way to an 11th-place finish in the women’s 58-kilogram weight class.
Two Arctic Edge figure skaters made it on to the BC/YT Provincial Development Team for their performances at the 2010 BMO Skate Canada Sectionals (BC/Yukon Section) in Richmond, BC. Rachel Pettitt, 10, won a silver and Millie Austin, 17, came fifth in her short program for seventh overall.
Pelly Crossing’s Danielle Marcotte once again showed why she’s the Deadeye Dick of North of 60, winning the Junior Ranger Regional Air Rifle Championship held in Yellowknife, NWT
Producing consistent performances in his short and long programs, Whitehorse’s Kevin Caron qualified to compete at the 2010 BMO Skate Canada Junior Nationals being held January 11-14 in London, Ontario.
“I’m going to try my best and have fun,” said Caron. “It’s the kind of competition I’ve been aiming for to see how it goes.
“I’m pretty much training right through Christmas and I’ll take my time off after nationals.”
Caron qualified with a 17th-place finish overall at the Western and Eastern Challenge in Mississauga, Ontario, needing a top-18 result to advance.
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