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Snowboard team trains for trials
Fort Liard athletes going to British Columbia

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two years ago James Duntra hopped on a snowboard for the first time.

NNSL photo/graphic

Alinda Edda uses a tow rope to get up a hill at Powder King Mountain Resort in northern British Columbia last March. Edda is one of the members of the eight-person Fort Liard snowboard team that will be training at the resort from Dec. 15 to 20 to prepare for the Arctic Winter Games trials. - photo courtesy of Roslyn Gardner Firth

Duntra, 13, is now one of eight youths in Fort Liard who are preparing for a shot at joining the NWT snowboarding team for the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse in March.

Duntra and his teammates are travelling to Powder King Mountain Resort in northern British Columbia on Dec. 15 to get in some extra training before the trials in Yellowknife in late January.

"It's way better than my ski hill here," Duntra said about the resort.

The snowboard team will have two-and-a-half days of lessons at the resort.

On Dec. 19, the boarders will have a free day to practise their skills. Duntra said he wants to work on landing jumps and turning on the board's toe edge.

Duntra, who's looking forward to the Arctic Winter Games trials, said he decided to try snowboarding because he thought it might be a fun sport.

"It's fun going fast and learning how to do it," he said.

The goal of giving youths in Fort Liard the chance to go to the Arctic Winter Games was one of Roslyn Gardner Firth's goals when she first introduced the sport to the community. Gardner Firth, the hamlet's manager of wellness and recreation, organized the first trip to Powder King in 2010.

Approximately 12 fledgling snowboarders went on the trip, took lessons, and learned the basics of the sport. Gardner Firth followed up with a snowboard clinic on the Fort Liard ski hill and a second trip to Powder King in March.

One of the sport's benefits is it engages the youths in the 13- to 17-year-old age group who can be difficult to motivate to activities, said Gardner Firth.

The hamlet's snowboarding team was chosen from youths who have shown a consistent interest in the sport, including attending the twice-a-week dryland training held since October.

In addition to James Duntra, the team members include Angel Kotchea, Ross Duntra, Brent Kotchea, Ethan McLeod, Terrence Kotchea, Stan Bertrand and Alinda Edda.

The trip to Powder King, sponsored by the hamlet with help from funding sources including the Mackenzie Recreation Association, is just one of three training opportunities Gardner Firth hopes to fit in before the trials.

She said she wants parents to help take the team to Grande Prairie to practice in mid-January.

She also plans to get the team to Yellowknife a few days before the trials so they can get used to the hill there.

While Gardner Firth is optimistic about the snowboarder's chances of making the team, she said what's more important is the youths have taken up a sport that they are having fun with and will be able do recreationally for years.

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