Nunavut skaters chase medals

Close but not quite for several with more races to come
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Nunavut's Alexia Galloway-Alainga almost slipped past Kristin Chapman of the NWT to take bronze in the 500m juvenile girls' speed skating Tuesday.

Anything can happen in speed skating, a reality that almost earned Nunavut’s Alexia Galloway-Alainga a bronze ulu in the 500-metre juvenile girls’ division Tuesday after the NWT’s Kristin Chapman lost her balance.

Almost, that is. Chapman recovered to steal the prize.

“It was a great race,” said coach and dad Don Galloway. “It was a 4-100ths of a second difference between third and fourth. She was OK with it.”

Matt Cooper also came close on day one, earning a spot in the 777-metre juvenile boys’ final only to take fourth place.

There are more chances to come for Galloway-Alainga, Cooper and Nunavut’s other strong skaters. Competition continues Thursday and Friday.

“The 1500 metre will be a long one, so we’ll see how we do,” said Emilia Nevin, 16, of Iqaluit. “We have a few people who have a lot of stamina.”

“I’m hoping,” Galloway said when asked if the team can win some uluit. “I’m optimistic. There’s a good chance. There are so many divisions, so we just keep plugging away.”

Iqaluit’s Mitchell Courtney, 15, who shaved two seconds off his personal best of 55 seconds in the 500 metre, was hoping for a medal in the relay race Friday.

“I think there are four teams in the relay,” noted teammate Mitchell Tilley, 15, of Iqaluit, “so we have a pretty good chance.”

“Lots of our skaters had personal bests, which is good,” Galloway said. “They’re shooting for personal bests and for a spot in the A finals.”

That’s the case for Kara Ashley, 15, of Iqaluit.

“My personal best was 58 seconds and now it’s 56,” Ashley said after the 500 metre races.

And if personal bests don’t translate to uluit coming home to Nunavut, the team can take consolation in the fact that, except for one, all of the skaters will be eligible for the 2014 Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska.