North

Archery athletes miss their shot at competing in first Arctic Winter Games

Archery NT was hosting a camp in Yellowknife, for the athletes to finalize their training with a competition, just one week before what would have been the opening ceremonies.

This would have been the first year the sport was included in the games

This would have been Ferghus Rutherford-Simon's first Arctic Winter Games. (Danielle d'Entremont/ CBC)

Ferghus Rutherford-Simon found out the Arctic Winter Games were being cancelled while he was practicing for them in Yellowknife this weekend.

Archery NT was hosting an open camp for the athletes to finalize their training just one week before what would have been the opening ceremonies.

On Saturday, Yukon's acting chief medical officer of health announced the games would be cancelled at a news conference, citing concerns over COVID-19.

This would have been the first year that archery was included in the games.

"We've been practicing lots," Rutherford-Simon said. "We came to this to get a bit more practice in, so we could do better at the games."

Archery NT would have been sending eight athletes to the games in Whitehorse this week. (Danielle d'Entremont/ CBC)

While the N.W.T. archery athletes found out the news on Saturday, they still bundled up their bows and arrows and finished their practice competition at École St. Joseph School in Yellowknife on Sunday.

'I was distraught'

For some of the athletes, there is concern around whether or not they are going to qualify again — as the sport gains popularity. 

To boost participation in the sport, the Aboriginal Sports Circle has held archery workshops in partnership with schools and gym teachers in all 33 N.W.T. communities. 

For Amy Paziuk, who is 12-years-old, these would have been her first games, and she worries she might not make the team next year.

Archery was accepted as a sport for the games in January this year and is approved for 2022 as well. But some athletes, including Amy Paziuk, worry they won't make it on the team for the next games. (Danielle d'Entremont/ CBC)

"I was distraught, I thought … it's going to be harder to get in next time, more people are going to be aware of the sport so I might not have as high of a chance of getting in."

Future in the next games

Ian Legaree, the technical director of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, said the organization will carry their approval of the sport into the next games.

"We would've done an evaluation of archery at these games, obviously that's not going to happen so we'll carry that forward, and we'll do an evaluation after 2022."

Carson Roche, the Program Coordinator at the Aboriginal Sports Centre Northwest Territories, helped to organize the training event in Yellowknife. He said his biggest concerns right now are about the athletes.

Carson Roche is the Program Coordinator at Aboriginal Sports Circle Northwest Territories. He said he couldn't believe the games were cancelled. (Danielle d'Entremont/CBC)

"They put all this time, effort, money, and travelling, I just feel bad for the athletes. I want an alternative for them."

On Monday, Doug Rentmeister, Sport North's executive director, said athletes will be reimbursed for anything they've paid so far and they'll also get to keep their official uniforms.

For now, those that will be eligible to play will have to keep their eyes set on the 2022 Arctic Winter Games as their next target.

Archery NT officials set up this pre-games camp in Yellowknife over the weekend so athletes could prepare for the games. They were told on Saturday the games were cancelled. (Danielle d'Entremont/ CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danielle d'Entremont

Reporter/Editor CBC North

Danielle d'Entremont is a reporter and editor for the CBC in Whitehorse.  Most recently she worked reporting in Yellowknife, after working as a national news reader for CBC Toronto. She has also worked for CBC Nova Scotia in her hometown of Halifax. When she isn't chasing stories she is on the search for the best hiking trails around town.  Send her your story ideas to danielle.dentremont@cbc.ca.

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