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NEW FOOTWEAR – Jack Amos, pictured here in the 2016 Arctic Winter Games trials, will be running in the Canadian Cross-Country Championships Nov. 25 in Kingston, Ont.

From sneakers to snowshoes for Arctic Games

Running outdoors in the Whitehorse winter is a little tricky with snow and icy patches blanketing the roads and paths,

By Dustin Cook on November 23, 2017

Running outdoors in the Whitehorse winter is a little tricky with snow and icy patches blanketing the roads and paths, not to mention how frozen toes would be after a long run in frigid conditions.

But that doesn’t stop those who want to keep their training up from making adjustments.

Athletics Yukon is making the winter transition to snowshoeing in preparation for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games where the sport is the lone representative for Athletics.

The young athletes making the switch to the snowshoes are practising three days a week starting this past Monday under Athletics Yukon coach Don White.

Right now they are limited as to where they can train, White said, with snow on the ski trails around Mount McIntyre but not yet in the bush area.

Training towards the Arctic Winter Games trials Dec. 9-10 at F.H. Collins Secondary School, White said they currently don’t have enough members coming out to the training sessions in Whitehorse to fill the eight-person team.

The team will be able to send two athletes for each of the four divisions, junior boys and girls (born in 1999 or later) and juvenile boys and girls (born in 2003 or later).

White said most of the group from the last Games have graduated high school and left the territory, which is why they have the decrease in competitors.

“We’re hoping more show up for the trials,” White said.

He noted some young athletes may not have ever thought about the sport or tried it and if they attend the trials they may find it’s “not as boring as they thought.”

The biggest difference from running and cross-country races is of course the footwear, White said.

The snowshoes are the biggest learning curve, even more because of the traditional snowshoes that must be worn in the Games.

These snowshoes don’t have fixed binding, White explained, meaning the feet don’t lock in and can easily pop out, which wouldn’t happen with newer mechanical snowshoes where the feet are held tightly.

“The big difference is with traditional ones, a lot can go wrong,” he said.

Even though the team in Whitehorse has few numbers early in the training season, White said a group will be coming down from Old Crow who have been training under Allan Benjamin.

White said they are expecting about five athletes but he doesn’t know what divisions they would fit into as only two are allowed per group.

He is also unsure if defending gold medallist Jack Amos will be able to join the team in Northwest Territories as he recently moved to B.C. to focus on his running.

Amos, still in high school, may have a different March break time than in the Yukon which is when the Games fall, White said.

Amos won the gold medal at the 2016 Games in the 2.5-kilometre cross-country race, as well as getting two silvers and a bronze in the other three events. The Games has two cross-country races of short and long distances, a short- distance combined track race with three different distances resulting in a final score as well as a 4 x 400 metre relay.

This Saturday, Amos will be in Kingston, Ont. still racing in typical cross-country fashion – in running shoes.

Racing in the six-kilometre under-18 boy’s Canadian Cross-Country Championships race, the 16-year-old said he is hoping for a top 20 finish after winning a B.C. title for the second year in a row.

Amos was unable to compete in the B.C. high school championships because he didn’t reside in the province for a year prior to the competition.

But that hasn’t stopped Amos from training for the nationals this weekend and he will be joined by White, his longtime coach in Whitehorse who is making his way down today.

Amos, along with former Whitehorse runner Lindsay Carson, were listed in the Canadian Running Magazine’s “top entrants” to watch in their respective races Saturday.

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