Whitehorse Daily Star

Yukon finishes with 28 medals at NAIG

More than 100 Yukon athletes were packing some serious hardware as they returned from the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Denver, Colorado Sunday night.

By Whitehorse Star on July 10, 2006

More than 100 Yukon athletes were packing some serious hardware as they returned from the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Denver, Colorado Sunday night.

The Yukoners collected 28 medals in total at the Games five gold, 10 silver and 13 bronze.

Considering they were up against opponents from 26 states and 10 provinces and territories, that's not too shabby.

Dean Mastrangelo, the Chef de Mission for Team Yukon, said it was tough to figure out a goal as far as medals heading into NAIG, because the calibre of competition can change from year to year as more states take part.

'I was hoping for 20 medals going down, knowing the number of American teams we were up against this time, so we came home with more medals than I thought we would. It was very good.

'Last time there were 12 (American teams), compared to 26 this time. We came away with 46 medals last time.'

Mastrangelo said the level of competition was much higher in some sports than others.

For example, athletics coach Robin Chambers who won a gold medal competing in the senior women's 800 metres Thursday said the level of competition in her area was 10 times better in 2006 than when she previously competed as a junior athlete.

And in basketball, teams like Kansas and Michigan were 'amazing to watch,' said Mastrangelo, adding only two Canadian teams made it into the medal rounds.

'It was a real eye-opener for some of the athletes. Our girls (basketball) team, they were a strong, young team. They beat Saskatchewan the first game, but then they ran into a few American teams and just couldn't win.'

For some of the young athletes competing in Denver, the high altitude was a problem, mainly for those who were from low-lying areas. Mastrangelo said it wasn't too bad for the Yukoners, who were already used to living in the mountains.

'The biggest problem we had was heat,' he said, adding it got up to 35 C most days of the competition. 'A couple of our kids went down with heat stroke.'

The majority of the Yukon medals came in the archery and rife shooting competitions, with sixteen archers from six different Yukon communities picking up seven medals Wednesday. All four rifle shooters grabbed medals as well, two silver and two bronze.

Athletics results from Thursday were are follows:

Shot Put

Bantam Girls Amy Val, 6th

Midget Girls Deanna McDonald, 11th

Juvenile Girls Gwen Cardinal, 9th

Long Jump

Juvenile Girls Gwen Cardinal, 11th

Senior Men Wade Kaye, 9th

200 metres

Bantam Girls Amy Val, 17th

1,500 metres

Bantam Girls Amy Val, 18th

200 metres

Senior Men Wade Kaye

800 metres

Senior Women Robin Chambers, Gold

In boxing Thursday, Dawson City's Kevin Mendelsohn lost to Wisconsin's Dean Peters in the 165 lbs. senior category, but the fight went the distance.

It was Medelsohn's sixth fight compared to over 30 for the Wisconsin boxer.

Swimming, badminton and golf results, as well as Friday's results for athletics, were not available by press time.

However, the swimmers did bring back five medals from Denver while several medals were also won by Yukoners in badminton.

'Badminton is the one that surprised me,' said Mastrangelo. 'We don't usually do too well at Arctic Winter Games, but we went down there and won five medals.'

Overall, NAIG was a great experience, said Mastrangelo. He said the accommodations university dorms were great while the food was adequate.

'It's a university cafeteria, so some of it's good and some of it's not that great,' he laughed.

Also, Denver is a bigger city than many of the members of Team Yukon had ever been to. They were able to take in baseball and soccer games, as well as do some shopping in fact, maybe a little too much shopping.

The return flight from Calgary to Whitehorse was delayed due to the weight on the plane.

The charter had to make a stop in Edmonton and top up their fuel instead of flying straight from Calgary.

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