Alaskans sent their largest table tennis team yet to Whitehorse for the eighth annual Yukon-Alaska Challenge over the weekend. They should have sent a few more.
Yukon players took the majority of podium finishes at the event held Friday and Saturday at Whitehorse Elementary School, winning nine of 16.
They also beat out their American neighbours in three of four finals.
Yukon was represented by 13 Whitehorse players and two from Dawson. A total of 13 Alaskans – 11 from Fairbanks and two from Anchorage – made the trip for the event which rotates between Whitehorse, Anchorage and Fairbanks each year and was last held in the Yukon capital in 2012.
“I think they had six players one year and three another year,” said organizer Kevin Murphy. “Thirteen this year is phenomenal.
“We moved it from May to June at their request. Their kids are out of school right now. So it just made it easier for them to bring their youngsters over to compete.”
The Yukon-Alaska Challenge is a handicap tournament in which higher ranked players begin sets with negative points (like at minus-12, for instance) and lower ranked players begin as usual at zero.
Following the tournament, Whitehorse’s Myrna Bruns was given the Jerry Smith Spirit of the Game award presented by Fairbanks Table Tennis Club to the person voted to have best demonstrated sportsmanship and love of the game. Jerry Smith was a member of the Fairbanks club who passed away shortly after the 2009 Yukon-Alaska Challenge.
“Myrna just really enjoys the game, she plays it at work and has people involved in it at work, she has gone to other Alaska-Yukon Challenges,” said Murphy. “She just enjoys playing and is a great person to be around, and that’s the kind of person they are looking to honour.”
Bruns, the 2014 Yukon women’s single champ, placed second in the open team event with three-time Yukon men’s singles champ Ryan Bachli.
The next Yukon-Alaska Challenge will take place next year in Anchorage.
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