Gymnasts claim a bronze ulu

Two Juneau athletes help Team Alaska win team event ulu

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2004

Two local gymnasts won bronze late Tuesday night, as they helped the Team Alaska junior female gymnastics squad take third place in the team gymnastics event at the Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Paige Pahlke and Alexandria Wagoner, both from Juneau, are two of the four gymnasts on Team Alaska, which is coached by Juneau's Beth Landvatter. The other two gymnasts on the squad are Colleen Meade and Alex Speegle of Fairbanks.

They combined to score 102.088 points in Tuesday's team event, narrowly missing the silver ulu. Alberta North won the gold ulu with 108.819 points, while Team Yukon took second place with 102.838. Individual scores weren't available.

The gymnasts, like most of the Southeast athletes, were off Wednesday and return to action today. The individual events and all-around competition today wrap up the gymnastics events.

With the bronze ulu, the local gymnasts joined table tennis duo Ryan Hart and Eric Pak and the six-person snowshoe team as local ulu winners in the 2004 Arctic Winter Games.

Other Southeast Alaska athletes are competing in volleyball, indoor soccer and basketball events, which are still in the round-robin portion of their tournaments and haven't awarded any ulus yet. The medals for the Arctic Winter Games are shaped like ulus, the traditional knife of the arctic.

The volleyball teams and snowshoers were off on Wednesday, as were two of the five Team Alaska indoor soccer teams. The volleyball teams, both 3-0 in round-robin play, have two matches each today. The snowshoers, who all are from Southeast and have combined for nine ulus so far, are off until Saturday.

In Wednesday's junior male table tennis singles round-robin play, Hart lost his first match 11-6, 11-9, 12-14, 11-9 to Malcolm Decoute of Nunavut. Pak had yet to play a match.

The Team Alaska junior male basketball team dropped its second straight game on Wednesday, falling 101-65 to Alberta North. Karl Stedman of Sitka didn't score in the game, and he only had two points in Team Alaska's 65-59 loss to Northwest Territories on Tuesday. Team Alaska, which is coached by Hoonah's Arne Erickson, has a 2-2 record in round-robin play.

In indoor soccer action, Juneau's Greta Thibodeau scored twice to lead Team Alaska to a 4-2 victory over Northwest Territories in intermediate female division play Wednesday. Laura Flynn of Juneau also is on the team, which remained perfect with a 4-0 record.

In the junior female division for indoor soccer, Team Alaska suffered its first loss of the tourney as Team Yukon claimed a 1-0 victory Wednesday. Team Alaska, which fell into a three-way tie for first place at 3-1, includes Monica Daugherty and Jessy Post of Juneau.

The junior male division Team Alaska indoor soccer squad won its second straight game after three losses, posting an 8-0 victory over Nunavut. Matthew Walton of Juneau is on the team, but didn't figure in the scoring.

The juvenile female and juvenile male teams both had Wednesday off. The juvenile female indoor soccer squad is 2-0-1 and features Juneau's Lindsey Kato, Margaret Sekona and Kayla Walton and is coached by Juneau's Gary Lehnhart. The juvenile male team (0-2-1) features Colin Flynn and Nils Domke of Juneau.

While they were off on Wednesday, the snowshoe team was still savoring its success on the trails from Monday's and Tuesday's events. Most of the team members are new to the sport, and a couple of them have had equipment malfunctions (loose bindings letting the snowshoes fall off, etc.). But they've still dominated their events.

Megan Bush, a Juneau-Douglas High School junior, leads the team with two gold ulus and a silver. Bush won the 5-kilometer cross-country snowshoe race on Tuesday and teamed up with Tyler Dinnan, Christine Hansen (of Haines) and Tristan Knutson-Lombardo on Monday to win the 4x400-meter mixed relay. Bush also took second place in the combined event on Monday.

"This is my first time competing in snowshoeing and I'd have to say it's one of the most wild things I've ever done," Bush wrote in an e-mail to the Empire. "But, hey, every time I race I'm setting a new PR (personal record). I didn't have any problems yesterday, luckily, but it was crazy knowing that at any time my snowshoes could end up flapping behind me. I think the Yukon team had the snowshoe technique down the best, they really had the shuffle perfected. It makes me realize how we've got a lot to learn about this sport."

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