Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Morris Prokop

GRIPPING GRAPPLING – Kippen Briggs, top, battles Philip Lefebvre in a U14 -38 kg male match at the 2024 Yukon Judo Championships at the Canada Games Centre on May 4.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

DOWN FOR THE COUNT – Aurora Barnes, bottom, battles Summer Robinson-Brown in a U12 -34 kg Female bout. Robinson-Brown won the category.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

AWARDS OF DISTINCTION – Four judoka won special awards at the event. Left to right: Kelsey Belling (Faro Judo Club), Laila Knopp-Cullen (Shirou­maki Judo Club), Philip Lefebvre (Shiroumaki Judo Club) and Aydri Mas­quera (Hiroshikai Judo Club).

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Photo by Morris Prokop

TERRIFIC TRIO – The top three in the U16 -57 kg category. Left to right: Elyse-Anne Pacaud (silver, Marsh Lake Judo Club), Maxime Oleshak (gold, Shiroumaki Judo Club), Lianna Corriveau (bronze, Hiroshikai Judo Club).

2024 Judo Yukon Championships Newaza throws down

Six Yukon clubs took part in the 2024 Yukon Judo Championships Newaza recently.

By Morris Prokop on May 13, 2024

Six Yukon clubs took part in the 2024 Yukon Judo Championships Newaza recently.

The Championships took place at the Canada Games Centre (CGC) in Whitehorse on May 4.

The six clubs participating were the Faro Judo club, Golden Horn Judo, Hiroshikai Judo (HIR, Carcross), Marsh Lake Judo (MLJ), Northern Lights Judo (NLJ, Whitehorse) and Shiroumakai Judo (SHK, Whitehorse).

Michael Bellon, head sensei (coach) with Golden Horn and Marsh Lake judo clubs, said, “For the kids it’s always so intense. New and important. You can tell it’s a big thing for them. They’re putting in 100 per cent effort. It’s great to see.”

Special Awards were given to the Top Male and Female Throw in Tachiwaza (standing fighting), as well as Inspirational Judo Spirit Male and Female for the day’s event.

The winners were:

  • Top Throw Female: Laila Knopp-Cullen (SHK)

  • Top Throw Male: Philippe Lefebvre (SHK)

  • Judo Spirit Female: Kelsey Belling (Faro)

  • Judo Spirit Male: Aydri Mosquera (HIR)

Judo Yukon Competitive Development coach Penny Prysnuk said the champs went really well.

“I think the athletes were really excited to be here for the Yukon Championships and they all fought hard and you can see that they’re learning from their practice sessions in their clubs.

“You can see the skill-building that’s happening throughout the year. This is the final tournament of this year, so it was nice.”

Prysnuk said they’re working with the Canada Games group for the next Canada Games.

“So particularly watching them because I’m one of the competitive development coaches.”

Prysnuk said, “We saw some really good throws and takedowns and the newaza (ground techniques) were really good.”

Prysnuk related that “We always watch for things we can work on so we can develop them for the next time they’re fighting, especially when we want to improve the rankings of them.”

Prysnuk added, “It was a great day.”

The Newaza Grand Masters were determined by the top place finishers of each age division categories fighting off to determine the top U8, U10, U12 and U14 athletes.

  • The U8 Newaza Grand Master was Max Davis (NLJ).

  • The U10 Newaza Grand Master was Laila Knopp-Cullen (SHK).

  • The U12 Newaza Grand Master was Philippe Lefebvre (SHK).

  • The U14 Newaza Grand Master was Aydri Mosquera (HIR).

Judo Yukon Vice-President Aaron Jensen said 49 athletes took part in the event.

He said the high-performance athletes were officiating and judging, while the younger kids did the competing.

“It was a developmental tournament to grow the sport,” related Jensen.

“We’re expected to do a Yukon Championships every year. That’s why we do it here (CGC); kind of showcase it.”

Jensen said in the past they’ve had athletes from Alaska and the Northwest Territories participate in the tournament, something they’d like to see again.

As for standout performances, Jensen said one of his students stood out. “Philippe Lefebvre did some really nice judo.

“In the last year and a half, every tournament he goes in, he just wins easily, so I intentionally put him up into the U14 Division; he still took (the) silver medal, so he did quite well.

“Another one from my club, Laila Knopp-Cullen (U10) … luckily she’s got a good group of kids that are in her club that she trains with. They’re all exactly the same weight. They fight each other all the time.”

Knopp-Cullen won two gold medals, as well as the award for best throw by a female.

Jensen said Faro’s Kelsey Belling was “quite outstanding.

“I was surprised to see,” said Jensen, who thought, ‘Wow, she’s got some spunk’.

“Penny Prysnuk and I are constantly developing the next competitive team. We use the Canada Winter Games as our milestone. We’ve already identified the kids that are born in the years 2009-12 that are potential Canada Winter Games athletes.”

Jensen said the CWG competitors are required to be green belts, which usually takes four years of training.

“Hopefully by 2027 we can develop them into competitive athletes.”

The 2027 Canada Winter Games are in Quebec City.

Jensen said the judo community is trying to get judo reinstated to the 2026 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse.

Jensen said a thank you to the City of Whitehorse for making the flexihall in the CGC available.

He added his club, Shiroumakai, would be running kids and adult classes on Tuesday and Thursday during the summer.

Results for the tournament will be posted at http://www.judoyukon.ca/tournaments

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