And with that, the 2018 Arctic Winter Games trials are over.

Evan Applejohn, top, tries to get Caleb Brost in a half-nelson during the Arctic Winter Games wrestling trials at Mildred Hall School this past Friday. James McCarthy/NNSL photos

The second batch of territorial trials wrapped up this past Saturday with nine more sports finalizing their rosters for the big show in March in the South Slave. Yellowknife hosted three sports including wrestling at Mildred Hall School, speedskating at the Multiplex and badminton at St. Pat’s Gymnasium.

When it comes to wrestling, just four athletes will make the trip to Hay River, which will host the sport.

Don Reid will be serving as head coach for the team and said the reason the team is so small comes down to a numbers game.

“There aren’t a lot of guys at the middle weight classes and it’s restrictive a bit as well,” he said. “There are only seven weight classes at the Games and we weren’t able to have some of those who tried out make it into a different weight class.”
The four who did make the team do have solid experience on the mats. Cameron Courtoreille will compete in the boys 96-kg weight class while Evan Round will see action in the boys 60-kg weight class. Paul Reid, coach Reid’s son, is fighting in the boys 65-kg weight class and Jacob Bailey made the team in the 55-kg weight class.

In all, Reid said 16 wrestlers, all from Yellowknife, tried their luck in making the final cut.

When it comes to action in Hay River, the hopes will be in the individual events; the team competition won’t be a serious ulu threat as the NWT can only field a team of four and would lose points when going up against other contingents such as Alaska and Alberta North.

Reid said there are a couple of definite ulu possibilities in his son and Courtoreille.

“Cameron is definitely improving,” said coach Reid. “He’s taller and slimmer and he’ll hold his own on the mat, especially considering he’s already placed second at a meet earlier this season. Paul should be competitive as well and should be a threat.”

While an ulu is the goal, the big thing coach Reid wants to give the young wrestlers is more time on the mats with the ultimate goal being ready for the 2021 Canada Summer Games.

“Most of the wrestlers we have in our club are in Grade 8 and 9,” he said. “They’re all young kids and so I’m hoping they’ll stay together for the next few years and be ready for 2021. The 2020 Arctic Winter Games is also something we’re shooting for as well.”

For Courtoreille, the trials were a chance to get in some extra time in order to work out the kinks.

“I couldn’t wrestle Don’s son but I did have someone heavier that I could practice on,” he said. “It’s good to go against someone heavier because when you’re up against someone in your own weight class, it’s easier to throw them around a bit more.”
But is it harder to go up against someone who’s heavier than you are? Courtoreille said yes and no.

“It’s harder but you’re better because of it,” he said. “It’s harder to get a hold of him and throw him but if I can throw him around more, I’ll be able to do that easier when I’m in my weight class.”

Courtoreille is following in his father’s footsteps as his dad was an AWG competitor in wrestling in his younger days, which gave him the inspiration to get into wrestling.

Alanna Bowerman, left, and Sophie Clark race for the finish line during the Arctic Winter Games speedskating trials at the Multiplex this past Friday.

Big crowd for badminton

Badminton trials saw plenty of hopefuls – more than five dozen – from around the territory descend upon St. Pat’s Gymnasium in the hopes of claiming a spot in one of the four divisions up for grabs.

Jennifer Griffin of Paulatuk will be the coach of the girls team for Team NWT and said picking her team consisted of skills and game play.

“We had a lot of criteria in terms of fitness and technical skills and a lot of drills,” she said.

There was a singles tournament for each division and Griffin said that played a huge part in determining who would make the final cut.

The skill level of the players varied greatly and Griffin said age had a lot to do with it in some cases.

“In the juvenile category, we had players as young as 10 trying out and it went all the way up to 14,” she said. “Normally, you see a two-year age spread in a category but there was a lot of young players playing against older players.”

Julie Jeffery of Badminton NT said there is still no boys coach as of yet but she’s hopeful one will be in place by the end of the month.

Snowsnake decides it in Dene games

Yellowknife didn’t have a very strong presence in Dene games trials, which were held in Fort Smith, but Zhanayii Drygeese of Dettah managed to make the cut in the juvenile female division, the only athlete not residing in either the Beaufort Delta or South Slave regions to make the final team that isn’t an alternate.

The Dene games teams are chosen based on how athletes do in three solo events: stick pull, finger pull and snowsnake. Pole push and hand games are also included as team events but it’s only the individual points scored by athletes that count toward the total.

“What we do is use a system where an athlete scores 10 points for placing first, nine for second place and all the way down to one point for 10 th place,” said Peter Daniels, the co-ordinator for the trials in Fort Smith. “The top finishers end up making the team.”

The coaches are also decided based on how a community does in terms of its athletes’ final placings. If there’s a tie for that, Daniels said

A total of 63 athletes were vying for spots on the team and that was down a bit, said Daniels, but not by much.

If there are ties in any of the competitions, they’re broken using the snowsnake and Daniels said that happened in the junior men’s division.

“There’s a reason we call it the ‘make or break’ event,” he said. “Three of the boys in the junior male division were tied on 13 points and one of them just managed to finish high enough and nose out the other two by one point. It’s nerve-wracking.”

Ava Applejohn has Olivia Laureijs in a headlock on the mat during the Arctic Winter Games wrestling trials at Mildred Hall School this past Friday.

Strong results in snowboarding and speedskating

Snowboarding was another sport held in Fort Smith at Riverside Park, which is where the snowboarding event will be held for the Games. Yellowknife will have several athletes in the mix, including Mina Lockhart in the juvenile girls, River McQueen in the juvenile boys, Tegan Konge in the junior girls and the duo of Ben Toner and Milo Martin in the junior boys.

Speedskating makes its triumphant return to the Arctic Winter Games program after being absent from the 2016 event. It comes back with a near-full team of 15 athletes, nine of them from Yellowknife.

Shane Clark is back as the co-coach with Jeanne Yurris, a former Arctic Winter Games athlete, and he said it’s exciting to be back on the program.

“I’m excited about the dynamic of the team we have,” he said. “We have a good mix of skaters that have all worked hard to get to this point and I’m excited to see how it all takes shape.”

Nine of the 15 skaters that made the final cut hail from the capital. They were chosen based on their results from the trials that happened at the Multiplex this past Friday and Saturday.

“They raced in the four distances that they’ll be racing in at the Games (500-metre, 777-metre, 1,000-metre and 1,500-metre),” said Clark. “From that, the top four in each division were selected.”
The only division that doesn’t have a full compliment of four is the juvenile boys category, which has three skaters.

“We had four apply but one dropped out just before trials,” said Clark.

For Yurris, this will be her first crack at the Games as a coach and she said she can sympathize with what the skaters were going through during trials.

“I was in their skates once upon a time, so to speak,” she said. “I’m excited to be in the coaching box with Shane and get back at it.”
The competitive juices were there for Yurris as the trials took place but she said the one thing she didn’t miss was the nerves.

“It’s such a different feeling being a coach because I wanted to get back out there and see how I could do against the kids,” she said. “I don’t miss the nerves right before a race, though.”

FACT FILE: Yellowknife’s Arctic Winter Games contingent

Arctic sports

Open female

  • Veronica McDonald
source: Sport North


Juvenile girls

  • India Edwards-Loewen
  • Hillary Huynh
  • Elaine Cronk*
  • Junior boys
  • Stephen Messier
  • Xavier Bilodeau*
source: Badminton NT



  • Jordan Balsillie
  • Patrick Yatco
  • Shanon Gurindwa
  • Chance Brien
  • Kevin Santos
  • Shadrach Agbar*
  • Aaron Wells, head coach


  • Janet Enge
  • Meadow Munroe
  • Sierra Nesbitt
  • Emma Willoughby
  • Annabel Flamand
  • Hayley Tait
  • Mali Straker
  • Mia McInnis
  • Elle Mitchener*
  • Shaun Doherty, head coach
source: Basketball NWT

Cross-country skiing

  • Stephen Dunbar, head coach
  • Kevin Durkee, assistant coach
  • Miriam Green, manager

Junior boys

  • Nicolas Bennett
  • Donny Boake
  • Jack Panayi

Junior girls

  • Niva Stephenson

Juvenile boys

  • Tyson Green
  • Jack Kotaska

Juvenile girls

  • Emily Carroll
  • Kea Furniss
  • Ella Kokelj
  • Rae Panayi

Midget boys

  • Joseph Curran
  • Makoa Kokelj
  • Morgan Young

Midget girls

  • Moira Green
  • Shannon Mercer
  • Kira Young*
source: NWT Ski

Dene games

Juvenile girls

  • Zhanayii Drygeese (Dettah)

Figure skating

  • Emily Hazenberg*
  • Teresa Martin*

Level 1

  • Ella Anstey
  • Jairah Silverio

Level 2

  • Allana Pellerin
  • Lily Brennan

Level 3

  • Victoria Hann
  • Hannah Courtoreille
  • Sarah Campbell

Level 4

  • Nura Jalil Aga
source: Brenda Dalton


Juvenile boys

  • Alexander Fast
  • Braden Brenton
  • Cole Clinton
  • Jack Nevitt
  • Lucas Wood
  • Luke Kotaska
  • Michael Sadler
  • Sage Acorn
  • Trey Granter
  • Justin Doyle, head coach

Juvenile girls

  • Danica Taylor
  • Brianna Brenton
  • Allison Anstey
  • Niobe Darku
  • Gillian Furniss
  • Taya Straker
  • Marie Carpenter
  • Katherine Smallwood*
  • Gina Michel, head coach

Junior boys

  • Austin Sleno
  • Channel Lafferty
  • Arjun Budgell
  • Emmanuel Sumagaysay
  • Mazen Daher
  • Emmanuel Lamvu
  • Yuki Kabuya

Junior girls

  • Aurora Fraser
  • Charlene Sobrepena
  • Olga Duru
  • Destiny Hobbs-Stewart
  • Jenaya Hanninen
  • Katie Hart
  • Molly Gillard
  • Wren Acorn
  • Mira Mercer*
  • Tonya Huck, head coach

Intermediate girls

  • Meegwun Makletzoff-Cazon
  • Krissy Stuparyk
  • Judon Gregory, head coach
source: NWT Soccer


  • Sofia Barichello
  • Megan Rogers
  • Anna Lalonde
  • Iman Livingstone
  • Mackenzie Chiasson*
  • Ken Wang, head coach
  • Jessica Gravel, manager
source: NWT Gymnastics


Bantam boys

  • Etienne Marcoux
  • Devin Vogel
  • Logan Cunningham
  • Alex Cordero
  • Tyler Caines
  • McKinley Talbot
  • Carter McLeod
  • Ethan Aumond
  • Tysen Almond
  • Andrew Carr
  • James MacCara
  • Ayden Harvey
  • Liam Carroll
  • Jack Willoughby*
  • Gavyn Lamoureux*
  • Trenton Coe*

Midget boys

  • Jean-Luc Amirault
  • Liam Tereposky
  • Justin Powder
  • Liam Wong
  • Nathan Cluff
  • Thomas Matesic
  • Austin Daniels
  • Ben Carson
  • Ethan Anstey
  • Keelin Kobaissi
  • Logan Debogorski
  • Matthew Hayward
  • Logan Shupe*
  • Paul St. Cyr*

Junior girls

  • Jamie Cluff
  • Regan Bulger
  • Layne Leonard
  • Dakota Earle
  • Sarah Fleming
  • Sahara Lafferty
  • Anna MacCara
  • Abby Webster
  • Emma Wicks
source: Hockey NWT


Juvenile girls

  • Kali Skauge
  • Georgia Pellissey*
  • Jennifer Simle*
  • Juvenile boys
  • Luke Dizon
  • Rudi Slagter

Junior girls

  • Grace Clark
  • Sophie Clark
  • Alanna Bowerman
  • Daphne Cloutier
  • Junior boys
  • Jack Coombs
  • Sylvain Rourke*
source: NWT Speed Skating


Juvenile girls

  • Mina Lockhart
  • Juvenile boys
  • River McQueen

Junior girls

  • Tegan Konge
  • Junior boys
  • Milo Martin
  • Ben Toner
source: NWT Snowboard


  • Juvenile female
  • Kira Young*
source: Jeff Amos


  • Jacob Bailey (55-kg)
  • Cameron Courtoreille (96-kg)
  • Paul Reid (65-kg)
  • Evan Round (60-kg)
source: NWT Wrestling
*-denotes alternate

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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