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MISSING OUT – Charlie Hawes won a gold ulu in the junior male slalom in the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Greenland. Alpine skiing will not be part of the program in 2018. Photo submitted by SARAH LEWIS

Alpine skiers missing out on Arctic Games

Yukon alpine skiers will be taking the slopes at Mt. Sima this season training for different competitions than most other young athletes in the territory.

By Dustin Cook on December 15, 2017

Yukon alpine skiers will be taking the slopes at Mt. Sima this season training for different competitions than most other young athletes in the territory.

Alpine skiing will not be part of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in Fort Smith and Hay River, N.W.T., because there isn’t a viable ski hill there for the event, Alpine Yukon head coach Yves Titley said.

“It’s too bad we are missing out,” Titley said. “We have athletes who won’t be eligible next Arctic Winter Games.”

Several indoor ice sports missed out on the Games in 2016 because of lack of venues and Titley said it is part of the way it goes but it is also a choice of where the events are held affecting what sports can be included.

Also at the last Games, Iqaluit was able to host the hockey competition even though the Games were held in Nuuk, Greenland. Titley said that could have been a possibility as well.

However, snowboarding will be included in the offerings, not needing as much of a mountain as downhill skiing for their race events

The Yukon skiers performed strongly at the 2016 Games winning a total of six medals led my junior female Katie Vowk who won medals in all three races.

But Titley said they will take advantage of this and participate in races outside of the territory throughout the season.

January will be a busy month for the team with three separate events.

Titley said he will be bringing three U16 racers to Mount Norquay in Banff, Alta. as part of the U16 Provincial Race Series Jan. 12-14.

Around eight young racers will also take part in a downhill speed camp at Silver Star in B.C. from Jan. 23-25.

Meanwhile, Titley said he will split duties with another coach for the team who will take U16 skiers to an event on Red Mountain near Nelson, B.C.

In February, the team will return back to the Yukon to host competitions of their own including the Sima Cup in February as well as the Yukon Cup championships in March.

For the last two years the territorial ski championships have been held in Whitehorse due to lack of snow in Watson Lake, Titley explained. But he said they do try and host them in Watson Lake if possible.

“We wait almost until the last minute, two to three weeks prior,” he said. “We have a look at Watson Lake. If they have decent conditions we hold it down there.”

Until these competitions at the beginning of the new year, Titley said the team is training every weekend and a couple competitive members were able to take part in pre-season training in early November.

They will host a three-day training camp over the holidays to prepare for the upcoming races. It was a busy season on the mountain for pre-season training this year and Titley said he expects next year the demand will only get bigger as the word spreads of the great training conditions in November.

On the alpine ski side alone, four competitive teams from Quebec who came up for training last year made the trip again with higher numbers, Titley said, including club teams as well as the Quebec provincial team who just left.

The Université de Montréal ski team also made the trip up this year with about 12 members.

This made for a busy mountain during the month of November because of the other athletes doing pre-season training on the slopes as well as the mountain recently being open to the public for the season.

“The dilemma here is that we have two runs for alpine, so the thing is you don’t have too high numbers but then again I’m pretty sure next year there will be a bigger demand for alpine,” Titley said about the growing popularity.

He said the mountain staff will need to monitor the numbers and may have to turn groups away for specific weeks if there are concerns of over-crowding in order to maintain safe snow conditions and enough room for all of the parties to train.

Because of the increasing number of teams making Whitehorse their home, Titley said it is not only great for Mt. Sima but also the economy of the city.

All of the athletes stay in hotels in the city and it brings revenue to these establishments they generally wouldn’t get in early November, he said.

This season there were 170 athletes who made the trip up to Whitehorse just for alpine skiing alone.

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