Wesley Brooks claimed his fourth gold ulu of the Arctic Winter Games by winning the junior male 12-kilometer snowshoeing race Saturday at McIntyre Recreation Area in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
Brooks, a junior at Juneau-Douglas High School, posted a time of 54 minutes, 47 seconds over the course to beat his high school cross-country running teammate Jesse Stringer, a Juneau sophomore who won the silver ulu. The victory gave Brooks a sweep of all four junior male snowshoe gold ulus.
Stringer finished the Arctic Winter Games with one gold ulu (in a relay with Brooks and two female athletes from Anchorage), two silvers and a bronze. Neither Brooks nor Stringer had been on snowshoes until two months before the week-long Arctic Winter Games, which held its closing ceremonies Saturday night.
The eight combined ulus won by the two Juneau snowshoers were just a small portion of the 174 total ulus won by Team Alaska in the Arctic Winter Games. Team Alaska won 56 gold ulus, 68 silver and 50 bronze, the most of any team at the competition between northern states and provinces from Canada, Russia, Greenland and Alaska.
Northwest Territories had the second-highest ulu count with 108 total, 42 gold, followed by Yukon Territory with 92 overall (22 gold) and Alberta North with 85 total (37 gold). Greenland won 44 total ulus (17 gold), Nunavut of Canada had 34 ulus (11 gold), Chukotka of Russia had 17 (five gold), Magadan of Russia won 11 (three gold) and Nunavik-Quebec of Canada won six total ulus (no gold).
Brooks and Stringer weren't the only Southeast athletes on Team Alaska to bring home ulus Saturday night.
Nick Yankee of Juneau won a gold ulu in Alpine skiing in the juvenile male giant slalom race, with teammate Cory Anderson of Douglas missing out on a bronze ulu in the same event by just 0.07 seconds. Anderson did win a pair of silver ulus in the juvenile male super giant slalom (super-G) and in the slalom races. Yankee took fifth place in the slalom and did not finish the super-G.
Brittany Rohm of Auke Bay won a bronze ulu in the junior female giant slalom race. Rohm also took fourth place in the superG and fifth place in the slalom. Jeffery Johns of Juneau served as one of Team Alaska's Alpine skiing coaches.
In indoor soccer, Alida Bus of Juneau helped Team Alaska claim a gold ulu in the juvenile female division and Patrick Sullivan of Juneau helped Team Alaska earn gold in the juvenile male division as Team Alaska claimed three of the four gold ulus in the sport. Alaska's juvenile female team, which lost its first two games in round-robin play, rebounded to win the gold ulu with a 4-3 victory over Alberta North. Alaska's juvenile male team claimed its gold ulu with a 3-2 victory over Magadan in the title game.
Team Alaska's junior male division indoor soccer team, which featured Lucas Knowles and Robert Lossett of Juneau, won a silver ulu after being upset 2-1 by Yukon Territory in the championship game. The team had posted a perfect 4-0 record in round-robin play before the upset loss. Kristi West of Douglas served as Team Alaska's indoor soccer sport coordinator and was a member of the team's mission staff.
Team Alaska didn't fare so well in basketball, as both the junior male and junior female teams claimed silver ulus after close losses to much-older Yukon Territory teams. Team Alaska, which had dominated the basketball competition in past editions of the Arctic Winter Games, could only use players born in 1984 or later, which is three years younger than the players allowed to play on the other teams.
In the junior female championship game, Taryn Kellogg of Ketchikan led Team Alaska with 20 points but it wasn't enough as Yukon Territory claimed a 58-55 victory. Team Alaska featured six middle school students on its 10player roster, including Juneau's Kendri Cesar, while Yukon had all of its players in high school with two 18-year-old players. Team Alaska, which closed to within one point with 1:39 left in the game, also lost point guard Liberty Ziegahn of Anchorage to a knee injury late in the game.
Yukon completed the gold ulu sweep by beating Team Alaska 79-74 in the junior male division title game. Team Alaska, which featured David Jones of Juneau, Ozell Jamestown of Angoon and Jarret Brown of Hoonah, trailed by 14 points with 7:12 left in the game, but went on a 16-5 run to close the margin to 74-71 with 27.3 seconds left. Arne Erickson of Hoonah served as one of Team Alaska's coaches for the junior male basketball team.