Sage Acorn to carry NWT flag at Arctic Winter Games closing ceremony

Speed skater Sage Acorn will carry the Northwest Territories flag into Saturday’s Arctic Winter Games closing ceremony after winning four individual gold ulus in Wood Buffalo.

Acorn completed his set with a comfortable victory in Friday’s junior male 1,500m race, Three of the NWT’s short track relay teams also won gold, as did Morgan Nelson in the juvenile female 1,500m.

“I’m very surprised, I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Acorn said of carrying the NWT flag as the games draw to a close. “I’m happy I’ve got this opportunity. I feel lucky.”


His 1,500m victory, for once, did not come at the expense of an Arctic Winter Games record set by the NWT’s Michael Gilday.

Acorn broke two of Gilday’s records earlier in the week but could not lower the 1,500m mark. Gilday went on to reach the Sochi 2014 Olympics after competing at several Arctic Winter Games, and the two have been exchanging texts this week.

“The first thing I sent him was just, ‘Sorry,'” said Acorn.

“Going into this competition I was not thinking of breaking any records. But after breaking the first record in the 500m, I became more motivated to do it. I actively went after breaking his record in the 777m.”

The gold ulus have come at a cost. Acorn described struggling even to walk in the immediate aftermath of each race, such is the effort required to win. But he said he’ll have enough left to hoist the flag aloft on Saturday night.


Elsewhere on Friday, the NWT’s female hockey team narrowly lost the gold-ulu game 2-1 to Alberta North. The U19 male team defeated Alberta North 5-4 in overtime for bronze. 

In futsal, the NWT’s junior male team lost its semi-final 2-1 to Alberta North and was defeated by Yukon in the bronze play-off. The NWT’s juvenile teams both play for gold on Saturday morning. 

Nunavut defeated Team NT’s male volleyball players for bronze, while the female team lost its semi-final against Alaska. Both basketball teams lost closely contested semi-finals against Yukon.

Snowshoers Alex Fast and Kierra McDonald each picked up gold for Team NT, Fast doing so over 10 km – his second title of the week – and McDonald over 7.5 km. In snowboarding, Grayson Marchiori and Mina Lockhart each won snowboard cross gold.


Chris Stipdonk, whose knuckle hop performance earned him national attention this week, took another Arctic Sports gold ulu in sledge jump – helped by the absence of competitors from Yamal this year, who traditionally dominate the discipline. Stipdonk added silver in the airplane event later on Friday afternoon.

Veronica McDonald wrapped up her latest Arctic Winter Games foray with sledge jump bronze, her seventh ulu of the week and – as far as anyone can tell – at least the 35th of her career.