They might not have collected any medals during the first week of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, but with a number of athletes breaking territorial records in their sports, Team NWT and their supporters are proud going into the second week of the national competition.
The second shipment of athletes headed out to Prince George, B.C. on Saturday to take on men’s hockey, cross country skiing, badminton, squash, figure skating, women’s curling and judo, riding the coattails of their teammates who finished their events last week.
The women’s speed skating team finished strong, placing fourth in the 3,000 m relay. With a time of 4:55:504, Ali Flemming, Kristin Chapman, Lauren Eggenbeggaer and Madie Piling broke the NWT’s standing record of 5:05:120, set at the 2004 games. Many of the skaters broke personal best records as well, finishing in the quarterfinals in 500 m sprints.
In their final game Thursday, women’s hockey took the 11th place spot away from Team Yukon as they went head to head for the second round in their final game of the tournament, winning with a final score of 6-3. Players Susie Chambers, Teala Gonzalaz, Bryn Hill and Anika Affleck captured the last goals for their team before heading home.
NWT target shooters put up a fight as Mary Cairns and Liam Wilford made it to the finals in their respective individual air pistol competitions, with both finishing in eighth place. Earlier in the week, the shooters took on the team air pistol events as solo gunners. Wilford shot a 508.0 in 60 rounds and Cairns a 338.0 in 40 rounds, impressive scores despite being disadvantaged.
The men’s curling team didn’t fare as well. The team left the games without any wins under their belts, despite having some great shots throughout the week.
The NWT biathletes ended their competition on a high note after receiving a message of encouragement from fellow Hay River biathlete and Olympian, Brendan Green.
“They were really excited, we got an email from Norway and so we read it out in one of our team meetings,” said coach Chuck Lirette. “Brendan had some advice for them on the course and with the shooting. It was pretty cool, they all know Brendan so they get to see him maybe once or twice a year when he’s home in Hay River and they definitely all really look up to him.”
Andrew Lirette, Chuck’s son, managed to finish in the top 20 of each of his races, while brothers Clell and Kjel Crook took up the rear, with heart.
As with many other Team NWT athletes in the games, the skiers fought hard and did their best, giving it all on the track while surmounting new challenges.
“They’re doing so many things for the first time with these races – 15, 12.5 and 10 km – so it’s bigger distances than what they’ve done in the past,” Lirette said, who added the biathletes are also competing with guns on their backs for the first time.
“We’re really proud of them,” Lirette said.