Five Yukoners were in the Ukraine for the 2019 ICMF World Championships from May 16-19. Representing Canada from the Yukon were Land Pearson, Lake Pearson, Mack Smith, Ian Duncan and Savanna Leary. (Submitted/Company of the White Wolf)

Yukoners travel back in time at International Medieval Combat Federation World Championships

“You can easily start to imagine that was explosions and more stuff going on – just that battle taste”

Five Yukoners from the Company of the White Wolf were part of a cohort of Canadians at the International Medieval Combat Federation’s World Championships at Ancient Kiev in Kopachiv, Ukraine — approximately 45 minutes from Kiev.

Land Pearson, Lake Pearson, Mack Smith, Ian Duncan and Savanna Leary competed in a variety of events at the four-day event from May 16 to 19.

Smith took part in polearm, profights and five-on-five fights, Lake competed in sword and shield and five-on-five fights, Leary competed in women’s longsword, sword and shield and five-on-five fights, and Duncan and Land both competed in five-on-five fights.

Although the championships are typically held at castles and other historical sites, this year’s venue was particularly period correct and Land said staying on site only added to the immersion.

“You’ve got this big massive earth wall around the park which is probably 30 feet tall,” said Land. “Then there are two or three storeys of a wooden fort built on top of that.”

Inside those walls were rooms, he said, where some of the fighters stayed.

“These rooms kind of made you think of what it would be like back in the day,” said Land. “They had a bunk bed and a little bit of standing space, and that was pretty much the room.”

Land said he was impressed by the progress made in competition.

“Our men’s duelists all made it out of their pools in the qualifying stage and then got knocked out in the quarter-finals, so that was pretty good to see that improvement,” said Land.

After each day’s competition ended, Land said there were large battles held, strictly for fun, with upwards of 100 people involved.

“One night was 40-on-40 and the other night was 50-on-50,” said Land. “The 50-on-50 was on a grassy field within the fort and they had a trebuchet launch over top of us with a big flaming ball to start the battle. It was pretty epic.”

So, what’s it like to take part in a battle seemingly ripped from a history book or the latest episode of Game of Thrones?

“(In) the Battle of Winterfell,” Land explained, “there’s that scene where they’re just stumbling around like, ‘Who’s alive, who’s on my team, who am I fighting?’ It gets to feel like that. In the 50-on-50, you’re just stepping over bodies everywhere and you’re like, ‘I think that guy’s on my team’ so you kind of keep an eye on him out of the corner of your eye. Then you see him go and attack someone you know is on your team so you jump on him.”

The chaos and confusion seen in Hollywood portrayals are right on the money, it seems.

“You can easily start to imagine that was explosions and more stuff going on – just that battle taste,” said Land. “You can get that separation almost — that suspension of disbelief that you have travelled back in time in these massive battles and are just trying to win for your team.”

The combat and the camaraderie are clearly what attracts people to the sport, but the real question is how one travels from Whitehorse to Kiev and back with a full suit of armour and a plethora or weapons.

“We’re starting to get well-known here in the Yukon,” said Land. “Security and everyone kind of knows our gear and gives it just a quick look. They’re not like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ They understand it so they can just check what they need to now.”

Getting past security is one thing, but dealing with airline baggage fees is quite another given that a full suit of armour weighs in around 37 kilograms.

“It does mean every time you’re buying a ticket, you’re expecting to pay a few hundred dollars extra in extra baggage,” said Land, explaining they show up early to the airport to weigh bags and disperse each other’s gear to keep within weight limits.

“A lot of times, we take our helmets as our carry-on,” said Land. “You’re allowed a suitcase and a personal item, so our helmets are our personal items. People put their coat and their book in there or something because those helmets are 10 to 15 pounds usually.”

Luckily for the Company of the White Wolf, the next competition is here at home. The Grand Northern Tournament is scheduled for the weekend before Canada Day in Whitehorse.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Whitehorse RCMP will provide internet safety training due to an uptick of child luring offences. (iStock photo)
RCMP hosting internet safety webinars for parents and caregivers

The webinars will take place on March 23 and 25

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Most Read