Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

BEST TRICKS – (Above) Riley Boland, the only female competitor, floats through the air during a run in the slopestyle event at the Arctic Winter Games snowboard trials.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Lewis Bunce rides the rails during trial competition.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Ben Machtans.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Syth Charchun.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

Daniel Pike.

Six snowboarders flip and fly at AWG trials

On one of the busiest weekends at Mount Sima in recent memory,

By Dustin Cook on January 9, 2018

On one of the busiest weekends at Mount Sima in recent memory, Snowboard Yukon was also taking advantage of the fresh powder with the Arctic Winter Games snowboarding trials Sunday.

The record snowfall blanketing the city Thursday and Friday led to a burst of excitement for skiers and snowboarders to head to the mountain creating traffic jams to even get onto the lot.

Six of the thousands of patrons at the park on Sunday were carving for a shot at the AWG in Northwest Territories in March. Competing in both the banked slalom race event and slopestyle freestyle competition, the athletes benefited from the new snow as well as a new terrain park to play on, Snowboard Yukon technical director Mary Binsted added.

“Conditions were great, the new snow really added to what we had out there. In addition, Sima had rebuilt the terrain park we used for the event,” she said. “I think the event was the inspiration and it’s really popular with the public as well.”

The six competitors will form the training squad for the Games, but with three competitors in the juvenile male division only two athletes will be able to go to the Games as there is a maximum of two competitors per division, Binsted noted.

With the overflow in one division, the team does have several gaps on the female side with only one competitor at the trials. Riley Boland will represent the territory in the juvenile female division and Binstead said Boland is the highest-level female competitor for the association.

But she said they are seeing more interest from girls at a young age and are hoping they will continue the sport into a competitive level.

“We just started weekly training on Saturday and have three young girls new to the program who are participating between eight and 10 and we’re really excited,” she said.

The team will also send two coaches to the Games led by head coach Aaron Frotten and are hoping to send a female, Reanna Newsome, who is currently away at school but is a former Snowboard Yukon competitor and is training as a snowboard coach since leaving the competitive sport.

But the trial competition did not see all the eligible competitors with some opting out to participate in the national competitions which run around the same time as the Games.

Another six athletes, Binsted said, made the decision to focus on nationals instead which is a higher-level of competition and different focus. The national stage competitions are level four and level five competitions, Binsted explained, while the AWG are more of a development model and a level three competition.

The entire team is looking at a competition at the end of January in Calgary, but Binsted said it is not set in stone yet.

But the team is continuing to train for their upcoming competitions on the mountain with Saturday sessions as well as trampoline and dryland training throughout the week.

The sole race competitor gearing up for the boardercross nationals, Ethan Davy, will also be competing on the B.C. competition tour Jan. 19-21. As athletes get older and the sport gets more competitive, athletes make the choice between race or freestyle disciplines, Binsted explained, but as the AWG are still developmental, athletes compete in both elements.

At the trials, junior athlete Ben Machtans took top spot in both competitions. He scored a 283 in his best run of the slopestyle competition, which was followed by juvenile male athlete Lewis Bunce with 234 and the second junior male competitor Syth Charchun right behind with a score of 233. Boland, the only female competitor, scored a best of 179 on her second run. In the banked slalom race event, Machtans had the best time in a time of 50.145 closely followed by Charchun.

In the juvenile male division, Josiah Walker finished with the top time just 0.1 second ahead of Bunce. Daniel Pike finished third in the division with a time of 58.885.

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