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Canada Winter Games comes to an end

James McCarthy
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 28, 2011

HALIFAX - The 2011 Canada Winter Games are now history and Nunavut's athletes are back home.

The territory ended up without a medal, but the chances were there. Louis Nutarariaq of Iqaluit came the closest in the men's plus-100 kilogram judo competition, but finished in fourth place; one spot shy of a medal.

Chef de mission Jeff Seeteenak said he's still happy with how his team accorded itself over the course of two weeks of competition.

"They performed above and beyond their expectations," he said. "It's great to see the looks on the kids' faces after they've competed and it was such a positive atmosphere all around."

Nutarariaq actually ended up fighting with an injured shoulder sustained during his competition, but Seeteenak said he fought through the pain and his result was more than admirable.

"He was competitive in all of his matches and it was a really close group," he said.

Nunavut competed in table tennis as well, and while there wasn't a whole lot of success, Seeteenak said they perhaps enjoyed their time in Halifax the most.

"They truly appreciated the chance to come here," he said. "The badminton team and the judo team also had a lot of fun."

Badminton was one event where Nunavut had some strong showings. David Paliak of Coal Harbour managed to make it into round 16 of men's singles on Feb. 21 and the women's duo of Trisha Campbell and Brittany Masson, both from Iqaluit, reached the quarter-finals in doubles on Feb. 22 before losing to a team from Ontario.

Masson said she knew the team would be in tough once they reached that stage.

"One of the Ontario girls was ranked (number) one at the games, so we knew it would be a tough game," she said.

Trying to come up with a strategy against a team like that can be tough, but Masson said she and Campbell set goals within each set.

"We wanted to get ourselves five points in each one and we did that," she said. "We scored five in the first set and six in the second. We tried to keep a positive attitude and play upbeat because if we focused on the negative, we would just throw points away."

There was also action in the mixed team badminton event on Feb. 24 against Ontario and it was much of the same as Nunavut was beaten in all four matches.

Jonah Oolayou of Iqaluit played with Masson in his match and said the team actually did terrific against perhaps the top team.

"We knew what we were up against and we did the best we could," he said. "Some of those players were top-ranked in Canada."

Beyond the sports, the experience of being at the games was something Oolayou said he will take home.

"Just to be here and face some of the top players in Canada was fantastic," he said. "It's something I'll get to see at the next games."