Whitehorse Daily Star

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BRINGING A MEDAL HOME – Figure skater Michael Sumner stands on the podium after winning silver at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay, Ont.

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Photo by Photo Submitted

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Thunder Bay a success for SOY athletes

From Feb. 25-29 in Thunder Bay, Ont., Special Olympics Yukon athletes competed in the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.

By John Tonin on March 13, 2020

From Feb. 25-29 in Thunder Bay, Ont., Special Olympics Yukon athletes competed in the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.

The Yukon athletes were represented in three sports. Michael Sumner and Tijana McCarthy competed in figure skating. Albert Bill, Carrie Rudolph, Chris Lee, Edward Kaye and Gaetan Michaud made up the curling team and Darby McIntyre, Ernest Chua and Owen Munroe strapped on their skis for cross country.

Sumner skated to a silver medal in his lone competition, free skate.

“I performed my Bryan Adams Summer of 69 routine and I just wanted to spice it up a little bit,” said Sumner.

His Summer of 69 routine was the same routine he performed at provincials and Canada Winter Games, with a new addition.

“I added one tiny little air guitar piece,” said Sumner.

He said it was a loud atmosphere with lots of fans cheering on the athletes – this Sumner said helps him feel confident and excited.

Sumner said he was happy with silver but has his eyes set on gold when the Winter Games are held again in four years.

“I guess, I wanted gold but there is still four more years to train for it,” said Sumner.

Emanuel Bou Lutfallah, from Quebec, edged Sumner for gold. Sumner said he has competed against Bou Lutfallah before and there is a rivalry between them. However, they have become friends.

Since Sumner only competed on one day, he was able to watch some of his other Team Yukon teammates in action, including McCarthy, who Sumner said put on a great performance.

“She killed it,” said Sumner. “She blew down the house.”

When the Games roll around again, Sumner said he hopes to have some new tricks to perform.

“I would like to land my salchow and toe loop,” said Sumner. “A salchow is a three-turn then a jump onto the other foot. I’ve been working on it since last year. Practice makes perfect.

“A toe loop is a three-turn jump off one pick onto the other.”

Away from the rink, Sumner said other highlights of the trip were meeting new people, the volunteers and the good food available.

Michaud was the skip for the curling team who tied for fifth with Nova Scotia.

“The team did very well,” said Michaud. “Heading into these Games, I wanted to just go there to have fun and play just one game at a time.”

Michaud said the competition was tough throughout, and he and his teammates became better curlers because of it.

“We trained all summer after provincials in Vernon, we decided to see what we could do training-wise,” said Michaud.

“We decided to do some training in the summer, floor curling and when we got on the ice in the fall we actually clicked.

“When we headed down to Thunder Bay, I knew a lot of the training had paid off.”

A highlight of the Games for Michaud came in Team Yukon’s final draw of the tournament against Nova Scotia. Down one and holding the last rock, Michaud scored the game-tying point.

“The best memory of the Games I’ll ever have is when I did the game-tying shot against Nova Scotia,” said Michaud.

“The shot before I messed up and I knew I messed up, I went wide.

“I threw it (the next shot) nice and straight and the weight was good. I didn’t know how good the weight was going to be. I was saying ‘don’t die, don’t die,’. It hit another rock and it did a nice little curve to tie the game. I couldn’t believe it.”

Michaud described the Special Olympics Yukons athletes as a family and seeing his teammates be successful in their respective sports made him excited and proud.

“All of Team Yukon did an absolutely fantastic job,” said Michaud. “The skiers, the figure skaters the curlers everybody did their best and proved themselves. The coaching staff did a wonderful job.”

The cross country skiers earned seven medals for Team Yukon.

In his division, McIntyre won two gold in the five- and 10-kilometre classic races. He also picked up a silver in the 7.5-km race.

Chua had two podium finishes. He skied to silver in the 500-metre classic and bronze in the one-kilometre classic.

Munroe also podiumed twice. He won silver in the 10-km classic and bronze in the five-kilometre classic race.

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