Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

SNOWSHOE SHOWDOWN – (Left) Maya Cairns-Locke, Allison Schafer and Zakayla Netro, left-right, at the beginning of the Arctic Winter Games snowshoe trials race Dec. 10; (Right) Darby McIntyre nears the finish of the 5-km race.

Six athletes race in snowshoeing trials

Six runners attended the Arctic Winter Games snowshoeing trials Saturday and Sunday and will all be heading to the Games in N.W.T.

By Dustin Cook on December 13, 2017

Six runners attended the Arctic Winter Games snowshoeing trials Saturday and Sunday and will all be heading to the Games in N.W.T.

The trial weekend had to be modified as the competitors were set to race on the F.H. Collins Secondary School track Saturday afternoon, but with the above zero temperatures faced problems and had to scrap the races on the track, coach Don White said.

White explained that the warmer temperatures combined with clear skies on Friday afternoon caused a melt on the southeast corner of the track eliminating all of the snow and turning it into ice and uncovering the gravel overnight.

“That forced postponement on the first day,” White said.

So on Sunday, a modified sprint race series was created at Mount McIntyre with a 100 metre straight race and a 500 metre loop around the stadium.

This gave the athletes a taste of the sprint competition at the Games, but with the main hinderance of lacking the experience on the track.

Of the six athletes, three are from Whitehorse and will be able to train on the track leading up to the Games, but the other three athletes from Old Crow do not have a track to practice on and White said it makes a big difference in terms of learning how to stay in a lane.

Another element the Old Crow athletes will have to face in preparation for the Games is extreme weather conditions that could sometimes impact their training and speed work, White noted.

For the Whitehorse athletes, White said right now they are too facing extreme conditions but on the other end of the spectrum.

“Our extreme condition is that we are losing the snow and it’s turning into ice,” he said.

Along with the sprint races, the juvenile athletes ran a 2.5-kilometre cross-country race and the two junior athletes ran a 5-km race. The 5-km distance will be the short distance for the juniors at the Games and the female division will also run a 7.5-km race and the males a 10-km.

The three Whitehorse athletes have all competed at the Games in the past, but this will be the first time for the three participants from Old Crow.

Colton Schafer, Allison Schafer and Zakayla Netro from Old Crow will all be competing in the juvenile category.

Naoise Dempsey will be competing in his second Games in the juvenile division after racing in the 2016 Games.

Darby McIntyre is currently the lone competitor in the boy’s junior division for the Yukon. He won two bronze medals at the 2014 Games.

McIntyre missed the 2016 Games to represent the territory at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in cross-country skiing.

Maya Cairns-Locke will be competing in her second straight Games in the junior female division.

Still with two eligible spots in the junior division, White said they have permission to invite one male and female athlete to fill the team, which they have done so and are waiting to hear back.

“We have people in mind, people with snowshoeing experience who weren’t available to compete for a variety of different reasons, and we’re waiting,” he said.

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