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AWG 2016: Historic NWT medal on day three in Greenland

The Northwest Territories picked up its first-ever Arctic Winter Games table tennis medal on day three of this year’s event in Nuuk, Greenland.

Aurora Fraser and Tamara Jovic lost only once, to the hosts, in the juvenile girls’ doubles tournament to take silver ulus.

“I didn’t think I’d get a medal because it’s my first year here playing ping-pong, and we hadn’t played together before,” said 13-year-old Aurora.

Tamara, 14, added: “We winged it. We had fun.”

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Table Tennis North, the territory’s governing body for the sport, is only a few months old.

November 2015: Ping in their step – table tennis goes official in NWT

“Maybe more kids will want to participate in table tennis now they know they can go to the next level,” said coach Val Gendron.

In Arctic sports, Tuktoyaktuk’s Jemra Gruben added the territory’s lone gold medal on day three when she won the junior Alaskan high kick – defeating four Alaskan rivals in the process.

The Tuktoyaktuk 16-year-old, who stands 5 ft 3 in tall, kicked 5 ft 10 in to take gold.

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Elsewhere, Spencer Littlefair continued his ski biathlon success with 4 km silver, while Matthias Steiner also picked up his second ulu of the Games with snowshoe biathlon 2 km bronze.

Team NWT’s junior male and juvenile female Dene Games teams won hand games bronze, while Britney Selina picked up arm pull bronze in the open female category at Arctic Sports. Joe Thrasher went one better, earning two bronze medals for his performances in junior male triple jump and arm pull, while James Day won bronze in the Alaskan high kick’s open male category.

Wednesday’s results at the snowshoeing remain under review, but Team NWT is expected to claim two bronze ulus in the relay and several more individual medals.

“I’m overwhelmed. I can’t believe this is happening,” said Brooke Buchanan, from Fort McPherson, who participated in the juvenile relay. “We did our hardest and we got it. This is the best day of my life.”

In team sports, all NWT teams are safely through to the semi-finals. The territory’s girls’ hockey team in Iqaluit topped its group and has a semi-final against Yukon coming up on Thursday; the bantam team won twice on Wednesday to finish first* and plays Nunavut for a place in the final. (Update: The Arctic Winter Games’ information system earlier incorrectly suggested Team NWT, tied on points with Alberta North and Alaska, had been placed third. They had in fact placed first.)

Four of the five futsal teams are drawn against unbeaten opponents in their semi-finals. However, the junior male team can now celebrate its first victory of the tournament – a 4-1 victory over Nunavut.

“It feels pretty good, coming off our first win, to make it into the semi-finals,” said team member Mitchell Porter, from Fort Smith. The team faces unbeaten Greenland for a place in the final.

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“Greenland are amazing. They’re so technical, it’s incredible,” said team-mate Darien Comin. “I think we stand a chance if we play smart, talk, be physical and continue as a team.”

In basketball, the junior boys topped their group after beating Yukon 89-53. The junior girls also beat Yukon but finished second in the round-robin phase.

The NWT’s volleyball girls finished third in their group, while the boys came fourth and must play an unbeaten Alberta North team in the semi-finals.

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