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Behchokǫ̀ archer inspired by TV wins Arctic Winter Games gold

Josh Wedzin and Em Gilmour, left, receive their ulus at a 2023 Arctic Winter Games medal ceremony. Photo: Kyle Donovan

Team NT won gold ulus in archery, figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding and Arctic Sports on Tuesday as a successful start to the 2023 Arctic Winter Games continued.

Behchokǫ̀ 15-year-old Josh Wedzin and Yellowknife 12-year-old Em Gilmour teamed up to win the mixed team barebow title in archery, a sport being contested at the games for the first time since 1974.

Wedzin said he got into archery after seeing it on TV and in movies, receiving a bow for Christmas in 2021. Asked if competing in archery is anything like what he saw on TV, he said: “Nowhere near … not nearly as showy.”

Wedzin thinks he still has plenty of room to improve in the individual events, which begin on Wednesday. Gilmour said she felt “pretty good” on Tuesday despite initial nerves.



“Sometimes nerves make me better and sometimes it’s too much. I usually pull myself together pretty quickly,” she said.

Lily Brennan after winning figure skating gold in Fort McMurray
Lily Brennan after winning figure skating gold in Fort McMurray. Ollie Williams/Team NT
Storm Cabell-White, centre, in her second ulu ceremony following a slopestyle victory
Storm Cabell-White, centre, in her second ulu ceremony following a slopestyle victory. Photo: Team NT

On the first day of figure skating events, Yellowknife 15-year-old Lily Brennan produced a title-winning short program in the U19 level three category. 

“Getting on the ice felt good,” Brennan said. “I feel like it’s every figure skater’s dream to go to the Olympics but I’m just hoping to do my best and do whatever I can in the sport.”

Veronica McDonald continued her Arctic Sports dominance with kneel jump gold, successfully defending a title she won in Fort Smith in 2018. Tuesday’s victory was McDonald’s 30th ulu in her eighth Arctic Winter Games.

Storm Cabell-White won her second snowboard title in two days, this time in slopestyle, and there were two more gold ulus in short-track speed skating: Sage Acorn won the U19 male 500m and Morgan Nelson won the U16 female 400m.

Fort McMurray’s weather forecast for Wednesday includes an extreme cold warning, which means outdoor events could be rearranged or cancelled. Cross-country skiing and biathlon already have a built-in weather day and won’t be in action, but snowshoeing organizers said they expect their Wednesday events to go ahead as planned.