Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

NEW MOVES – Special Olympics Yukon athletes and coach es show off their skills as part of a basketball clinic during the 2017 Winter Development Games Saturday afternoon at Jack Hulland Elementary School.

Trying out new sports at the Development Games

It was a busy Saturday of learning new sports and friendly competition for Special Olympics Yukon athletes at the Development Games.

By Dustin Cook on December 11, 2017

It was a busy Saturday of learning new sports and friendly competition for Special Olympics Yukon athletes at the Development Games.

About 34 athletes participated in clinics for three winter-based sports and focused on learning and improving skills for those who may not have participated in these sports before.

This is the 10th year of the Games in Yukon, program director Brettanie Deal-Porter said, noting the Games switch from winter to summer sports every two years.

The Games officially kicked off Friday evening with the opening ceremonies at the Yukon Convention Centre.

The day of competitions started early Saturday with skating at the Canada Games Centre with a clinic run by Tanya Sage, who is the coach of the skating program.

“It’s all about having fun, participation, getting them engaged and active in sport,” Deal-Porter said of the annual event.

For the events, athlete Jasmin Stange also came down from Dawson City to participate.

This was the first Development Games held in Whitehorse since the Winter Games in 2014.

Past Games have been held in the communities with the most recent 2016 Summer Development Games held in Carmacks.

From the skating rink, the athletes moved to the Whitehorse Curling Club for a curling clinic administered by Alex Peech who recently represented the territory at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championships.

For the final event of the day, the athletes participated in a basketball clinic at Jack Hulland Elementary School as well as a healthy active living workshop portion. This year’s program titled “Strong Minds” focused on sports psychology.

“We run all of our athletes basically through a health screening,” Deal-Porter said. “This year it’s really focused on sports psychology and figuring ways that they can learn to deal with stress and anxiety before a game.”

The two-hour basketball clinic at the end of a long day gave the athletes an opportunity to work with the coaches on dribbling and shooting the ball which then led into organized team games.

The athletes were divided into four teams for competition purposes with three coaches per team.

Deal-Porter said the Games offer athletes the opportunity to compete in a fun atmosphere at home instead of needing to travel.

Special Olympics Yukon participates competitively in the B.C. provincial championships and so the athletes don’t often have the opportunity to compete in their territory.

“I think for us we always have to travel to joint provincial games in B.C. so it’s great to be able to have all our athletes participate in sport and have that sense of competition in the territory,” she said.

Next up for the competitive athletes are the 2018 Canada Summer Games in Antigonish, N.S. running July 31-Aug 4, Deal-Porter said.

They run the Development Games opposite the season of the national games, she explained, in order to keep the winter sports fresh and introduce athletes to new sports.

The athletes recently competed this summer at the Special Olympics B.C. Games in July taking home a total of 18 medals.

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