Team NT wins Thursday gold ulus in Dene Games, figure skating, speed skating

Publication date: 
March 15th, 2024

In a packed day of action, the U18 male hockey team took silver after an 8-1 defeat by Alaska.

The U15 male hockey team plays Alaska for bronze on Friday morning, while the U19 female team plays Yukon for bronze.

The NWT's female basketball team plays Alaska for gold on Friday afternoon after defeating Nunavut in Thursday's semi-final. The NWT's male basketball team faces the Yukon for gold on Friday after beating Alaska.

Figure skater Brennan followed up on gold in the short program earlier in the week with a repeat performance in the level four free skate. Team-mate Miah Harris picked up bronze in level three.

In speed skating, Dunn set a new Arctic Winter Games record of 1:11.25 as he won the U19 male 777m race.

He beat team-mate Byran Clinton to gold having posted the new record time during an earlier heat. 

"In my heat, I went off really hard and kept pushing through," Dunn said. "It's really satisfying. It's what I've been aiming for."

McEachern also broke a record in the U15 male 500m, recording a time of 50.11 seconds in his semi-final before outpacing his brother Yuma for gold in the final.

"I was a little sick coming into the day but it got better throughout the day," Seiya said. "By the time the final came, I was feeling pretty-much myself."

The McEachern brothers are joined on the NWT speed skating team by sister Maica, and all three have won ulus this week. Maica took bronze in the U19 female 777m race on Thursday, with team-mate Rebecca Messier in second place.

"It's really fun to have the whole family here," said Seiya. "My mom and dad came to watch. My dad is actually an official for speed skating."

McLeod picked up a bonus gold ulu as the all-around Dene Games open female champion. The winner is determined by their performance across the different events throughout the week, with more points awarded for higher-placed finishes.

McLeod's 22 points from the week's events placed her first overall, six points ahead of her nearest rival. She also won silver in finger pull, a result that helped earn her the all-around title. Canan Olvera won junior male all-around silver, while Marlin Miersch-King took junior male finger pull bronze.

There was disappointment in cross-country skiing for Joe Curran after his 10-km gold earlier in the week.

A leading contender in Thursday's sprints, Curran tripped while racing for position with a rival in the last 50 metres of the final and had to settle for third place. 

"It was a little bit chaotic at the end and I think I might have got wrapped up in the moment," Curran said.

"I got a little optimistic, I caught his pole and I fell over. I like to think that I had a chance but I can't be disappointed about it. I still got an ulu, right? And the other boys raced well, too."

In Arctic Sports, the open male one-foot high kick went to a kick-off – or tiebreaker – with two contenders eventually sharing the gold. Underwood Day was Team NT's best-placed competitor, taking the bronze ulu.

Team NT wrestlers picked up a trio of individual ulus on Thursday.

Ulukhaktok's Corbin Alonak won silver in the male -55 kg category, having come through a program launched by coaches Monique Smith and Jacob Klengenberg in the community in recent years.

Yellowknife's Tessa Nendsa won the female -50 kg silver and Gamètì's Hannah Bekale took female -78 kg bronze.

"I feel like this has been a huge learning curve for me. I've learned a lot of stuff and how to improve my wrestling – a lot," said Nendsa, who has been wrestling for a year.

At the biathlon venue, near Anchorage, there were snowshoe biathlon silver ulus for Sophia Touesnard and Jack Lyall in the U15 2.5 km mass starts. Diezel Blake took bronze behind Lyall in the U15 event while Maisey Murray took female bronze in the 4 km U18 race.

Kathleen Cai picked up her second ulu of the week, this time silver in mixed team table tennis alongside Carter Sadowick.

In futsal, Nunavut defeated the NWT's U18 male team 6-5 in a remarkable game to send the NWT to Friday's bronze medal game against Alaska. The U18 female team was beaten by Alaska in Thursday's semi-final and will face Nunavut for bronze on Friday.

The U16 female team faced Sápmi in a semi-final that started at 9pm local time on Thursday and was ongoing at the time of writing.

The male volleyball team finished fifth after a defeat to Nunavut, while the female team pulled off a big win over Nunavut before losing to Alaska, setting up a bronze play-off against Yukon on Friday.