Deh Cho duo have much to celebrate

Speed skaters Madison Pilling and Kevin Anavilok-Roche enjoy representing Fort Simpson in the oval
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 Fort Simpson speed skaters
Kevin Anavilok-Roche
and Madison Pilling
pose with her medals. 

It's good to be a speed skater in the NWT and Fort Simpson skaters Madison Pilling and Kevin Anavilok-Roche know that first hand.

Speed skaters have accounted for 23 medals for Team NWT – eight gold, five silver and 10 bronze – and with four relays on Friday it is expected the team will add a few more.

Pilling, who is competing in her third games – her second as a speed skater – has contributed three bronze uluit to that tally. She placed third in all her events up to Friday. Pilling has medalled in all three Arctic Winter Games she has attended.

As a snowshoer at the 2008 games in Yellowknife, she won bronze in both the three-kilometre mass start and the two-kilometre sprint races.

At the 2010 Grande Prairie games, she earned three gold and a silver skating in her individual events in the juvenile division and helped her team to a gold in the relay.

In Whitehorse and skating up a division as a junior, Pilling is keeping that success alive with three bronze and one individual race remaining.

Although moving up a division has meant finishing lower on the podium, Pilling said she is happy with the transition.

“It's really nice, when I was skating as a juvenile, I was pretty much faster than all my competitors. I did have competition within my team so that was fun,” she said. “Here … I am kind of like in the middle.”

As an athlete, Pilling knows she is not always going to be the fastest skater on the ice.

For most of her races in 2010 she led the pack and she said she doesn't mind doing a bit more chasing this year.

“It's a good balance,” she said.

Anavilok-Roche is competing as a speed skater at the games for the first time. He said he loves speed skating after becoming involved five years ago. His brother Alex Roche, who is playing on the junior male soccer team this year, got him into the sport.

“It just looked like fun,” he said.

Although Anavilok-Roche has yet to win a medal he said he is happy with his performance.

“I feel like I did very good for the first time,” he said. “I decreased my time by about two seconds.”

He attributed his personal improvement to training he received from Pilling and coach Val Gendron.

Both Pilling and Anavilok-Roche said the games have been a great experience this year.

When asked what her highlight for the week was Pilling said, “hanging out with my teammates and meeting all the different people from the different contingents and getting out there and watching all the different sports.”