Chris Stipdonk is known for his unparalleled success in the knuckle hop, but the veteran competitor and world record holder is retiring from the event after earning a gold ulu at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games, Feb. 1.
“My goal today was to get 192 (feet),” said Stipdonk, which would have been a new record, bettering his old one, which still stands. “I got 188, so I came up a few feet short, but I gave it everything I had. I got a gold medal. I’m feeling pretty good.”
In second came Kyle Worl and third, Parker Benjamin Kenick, both from Alaska.
“It’s one of my strong events, obviously,” said Stipdonk. “And I have the world record in it already, so I’m not complaining that I didn’t get the Arctic Winter Games record.”
At age 37, he got a bronze in one-hand reach the day before, which particularly excited him.
“I’m actually more ecstatic about that than I am about (the knuckle hop),” he said.
Stipdonk is excited to keep competing in Arctic sports, but he is done with the knuckle hop now.
“It’s incredibly difficult to do, it takes up a lot of time training and today was my last hurrah with it,” he said, adding he hoped to finish with the new AWG record, but alas.
“I’ve done the knuckle hop about six times now and for the most part I’ve improved each time,” he said. “But you know, my hands are in good shape and I want them to stay that way, so it’s time for me to call it quits on that event, but not Arctic sports.”
The father of four was joined by his wife and children at the Games.
“I’m running out of time to train is what this is really coming down to,” he said. “I’m 37 and I got other priorities, I got other things going on in my life now.”
He said he’s feeling good, and he gives a big shout out to all his friends and oldtimers in Fort Simpson.
High on golds early on
By Wednesday at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games, Team NT had 48 medals, trailing first-place Yukon at 80, Alaska at 73 and Alberta North at 60.
Behind them sat Greenland at 24, followed by Sapmi and Nunavik with 11 and Nunavut with 9.
On the bright side, Team NT had 24 golds, just six behind Yukon and in second place overall.
Yellowknife’s Lily Brennan took multiple golds in figure skating, while McDonald had three golds in Arctic sports plus a silver and Storm Cabell-White had three golds in snowboarding.
Speedskater Sage Acorn claimed two golds, along with one for skater Erika Pollard.
Arian Sundberg-Koyina earned a silver in women’s stick pull in Dene games, while Inuvik’s James Williams had a gold in triple jump and silver in head pull for Arctic sports.
As of press time in hockey Feb. 2, the women’s team was performing strongly three games in, going 2-1, defeating Team Nunavut and Yukon but losing to Alberta North, who led the division.
The U19 boys were in a three-way tie for first place with Nunavut and Alberta North, all sitting at a 3 and 1 record. Semifinal action was scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 2.
The U16 boys, on the other hand, were leading their division heading into semis with a perfect 4-0 record, outscoring their opponents 27-11 along the way. They were set to play Yukon, in fourth, with a 1-3 record.