With a little help from around the Arctic, Nunavut picks up its 1st figure skating ulu ever
Team Nunavut wouldn't have been able to compete, if it weren't for the kindness of other teams
Three Nunavut figure skaters were in for a surprise when they were told they were competing for the team skating competition this week.
It was an even bigger surprise when they won a bronze ulu — or medal, named after the traditional Indigenous knife.
That's because the small team of three girls wasn't enough to make a team.
But athletes from five different teams from all over the world volunteered to skate for Team Nunavut, giving them a chance to compete.
"I was very excited and thankful," said Nunavut's Cassidy Devereaux, 13, after she found out about the gesture.
"Very thankful for these skaters," piped in 13-year-old Penelope Armstrong from Nunavut.
Along with their teammate Talia Armstrong, Nunavut's figure skating team consisted of: Hannah Courtoreille from the Northwest Territories, Alissa Russell from Yukon, Alaska's Sarah Mixsell, Sadie Finnebraaten from Alberta North and Valeriia Nesterova from Russia's Team Yamal.
"It meant a lot. I love helping other teams out so they're able to compete and have fun just like we're doing. So they didn't have to stand off and watch us," said N.W.T.'s Courtoreille.
"It was a great honour to be a part of their team," said Yukon's Russell.
The athletes were awarded fair play pins after the event, in addition to their ulus.
'Truly heartwarming,' says coach
The figure skating medal will be a first ever for Team Nunavut at the games. Nunavut figure skating program is less than 10 years old.
"It's truly heartwarming, and I'm even getting a little teary eyed talking about it," said Victoria Hann, the coach for Team Nunavut's skaters.
Hann said she walked into the coach's meeting earlier this week prepared to tell them that Team Nunavut wouldn't be competing. That's when the coaches for the other five teams said they'd volunteer one athlete each.
Hann said it was "an experience like no other" and that her girls learned a lot from this experience.
"They learned that it was totally not about competing individually and winning a medal. It's about coming together as a team, and showing your sportsmanship," said Hann.
"It's really what the games are all about."