Skater brings home gold
Akutaq Williamson Bathory of Iqaluit was one of the first Nunavummiut gold medalists at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games, claiming the highest ulu for her 500m short track speed skating run.
“I feel so encouraged by all the support and love I’m getting from my family, my friends, my community and even England, my family from England,” said the 17-year-old, who competed in singles from 2004-2008 the start went female category. “I am so honored to represent Nunavut. This isn’t just a medal for me, it’s a medal for everyone who has gotten me to where I am now, so I feel absolutely amazing.”
She prevailed against Erika Pollard and Rebecca Messier from Team NT.
“I was super nervous,” said Williamson Bathory. “At the previous distance I had been disqualified so I was nervous that that would happen again. But my goal was just to get to the start and just keep pushing forward. And on my last corner I almost slipped so I was really nervous there but I got straight to the finish line and I looked straight at all my followers on the side and it was amazing to see them all there for me.”
This is her second Arctic Winter Games – it would have been her third had it not been for the pandemic. Williamson Bathory has also competed in the Canada Games.
She said she enjoyed the games and that she lost her voice on the night of the opening ceremony from cheering so much.
“Overall, the Arctic Winter Games is just an amazing experience for youth and children in the community to just come and watch these beautiful athletes perform and bring some inspiration back to our communities,” she said.
The youth are looking forward to their upcoming races of the week and are sending out a message of perseverance.
“I know Covid has been a tough time, especially for sport where it’s like you have to be there in person,” she said. “It’s been difficult for me too to keep pushing, but to be here and see what you can achieve is absolutely amazing. Small steps add up to big things. I believe in you all.”
Nunavut takes home medals
Dene games and speed skating opened the medal results for Team Nunavut on January 30, with bronze for Lloyd Willie in the men’s open pole pull, Meliya Allain in the girls’ 1000m short track speed skating and Igimaq Williamson Bathory in the boys’ event.
The next day, Akutaq Williamson Bathory won her gold in the 500m short track speed skating while Lloyd Willie took home another Ulu with gold in the Open Male Snow Snake. Horizon Willie also took bronze at Junior Snow Snake.
The floodgates opened further on February 1 when Qajaaq Ittinuar took home silver in the boys’ arm draw and Team Nunavut won silver in both male and female Dene games.
As of press time, Team Nunavut’s U19 hockey team was in the semifinals against Team Northwest Territories, whom they tied 3-0-1 with and whom they had beaten just the night before. Team Alberta North was also tied in that top heat and was tied 3-0-1 on Wednesday February 1st
In the juniors, Team Nunavut faced Team Alberta North in the semifinals, whom they had defeated 4-2 at the start of the tournament. Leading the U16 men’s division ahead of the semi-finals was Team NT with a 4-0 record, beating Team Nunavut 6-5 on Wednesday 1 February.
The women, on the other hand, were up 0-4 after the first action and were outplayed in the process by 36-5. Team Alberta North led their division with a 4-0 record.
Team Nunavut’s curling teams took some nuggets, with both sitting at 0-4 after pregame.
Midway through the Games, Nunavut was bottom with nine medals, with Yukon leading with 80.