Mud Run supports Helping Hands

Allison Rutley Photos

Masha Scheele

For the second time in as many years, residents will be getting down and dirty  for the Hinton Helping Hands mud run.

The event is slated for June 8 and organizers have managed to make it a little bit tougher for participants to get through. More obstacles have been created and  the adult race will feature 29 obstacles while the kid race has 20 obstacles.

Volunteers and organizers will get together early on Friday to start getting the track ready for the following day.

“Last year I was there on Friday from 5 am until 1 am. A lot of volunteers, it’s quite a strenuous day,” said Tia Weber, mudrun organizer.

Skid steers from different local companies come to make a path of mud on the whole track, while volunteers start setting up obstacles, mudslides, and puddles.

“We will have 10 loads [of mud], last year only eight. We have three mud puddles this year, last year only one,” said Weber.

Smaller obstacles for the kids include hay bales, balance beams and monkey bars, while the adults will face the hand traverse, a 15-foot tall rope climb, moguls made of dirt piles, a spider wall to climb across and so on. 

Allison Rutley Photos

Profits raised from the run support the Hinton Helping Hands Community Christmas Eve Dinner and provide Christmas gifts to children attending the dinner for those in need, new to the community or those that find themselves alone during the holiday season. 

Hinton Helping Hands is solely run by a group of volunteers who decided to take over organizing the mud run from the Town of Hinton.

They invited other non profits to raise funds for their own projects through the mud run. 

Non profits involved are the Indoor Playground, which is hosting a bake sale and selling 50/50 tickets, Spay and Neuter selling popcorn, the Hinton Ringette hosting a barbecue, and Hinton School of Dance selling freezies. A pancake breakfast will start off the day at 9:30 am during registration, and while the kids wait for the family friendly mini mudrun at 10:30 am they can enjoy the numerous other activities.

The adult mud run begins at 1 pm, for anyone over 12 years old.

Other activities at the event include balloon twisting by Captain Red, bouncy houses and sno-cones, Paw Patrol and face painting, and a Making Memories photo booth.

Weber expects around 150 to 200 children and adults to participate in the mud run this year. Next year, Weber also hopes to include a dog agility round over the same course after the kids and adults have finished their races.

“Had we had a little bit more volunteer presence I think we could’ve pulled it off. It just gets pretty hectic the last week. We’ll try next year to have the dog agility course right after the adult run,” said Weber.

To participate in the run, register at or sign up as a volunteer.

Weber added that volunteers are always welcome for Friday, Saturday after the event, and Sunday.

HCHS wins way into rugby 7s provincials

Tyler Waugh

The Harry Collinge High School girls senior 7s rugby team rolled to a zone championship May 27 in Thorsby and punched their ticket to the inaugural Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) provincial championships this coming week in St. Albert.

And while this is the first-ever sanctioned provincial tournament in 7s rugby, the road to the championships has been a long one for an experienced Harry Collinge team.

“These girls have been working hard for years to get to where they are. They are all strong athletes, and I feel lucky to be able to work with them.  This is a great step for our program, and will hopefully encourage other students to take up the sport in the years to follow,” said coach Rebecca Turnbull.

Harry Collinge opened zones with a close win against host Thorsby, a team that Turnbull said has made massive strides in their first season. The second game was against Drayton Valley, a contest where Turnbull said the squad needed to properly ruck – a term used to describe when the ball is on the ground and the opponents battle over the ball for possession.

“When they did, they were able to come out on top,” said Turnbull.

“Both teams that the girls were playing against here had significantly less experience than our girls, and ultimately that was the difference.”

As has been the case all season, the Harry Collinge squad continued to improve through the day, despite having a relatively small lineup that doesn’t allow for a lot of subbing. That was even more of a challenge at zones, where the squad dealt with a hot day and little breeze leading up to the final against Thorsby.

“We were lucky with the schedule in this tournament, as we had ample time to recover in between games, which was often not true for our opponents,” Turnbull said.

“The Thorsby team had played more recently than we did, so we had fresh legs, but we needed to overcome being out of the ‘swing of things’ and back into the rugby frame of mind.”

Harry Collinge rolled over Thorsby in the final, with coach saying that the squad did all the little things well, adapted to the other team’s strengths and played to their own strengths when possible.

“Our back core (fly half, centre, and wing) were careful to ensure that they were always on a side of the field where they had the opportunity to break away. They did a lot of running in this game, and scored many tries throughout,” Turnbull said.

Provincials will take place May 31 – June 1 at the St. Albert Rugby Club and according to the latest schedule published on the ASAA site Harry Collinge will have its first match at 11:40 am against St. Andre Bessette out of Edmonton. The squad closes out round robin play at 3:25 pm against JC Charyk from the South Central Zone.

The top-ranked squad from that pool gets a bye into the semi-finals at 12:05 pm. 

The championship and bronze medal games will both be played at 1:55 pm on Saturday.

Hinton dancers go international

Masha Scheele Photo
Hinton School of Dance year-end recital

Masha Scheele

Thirty-eight dancers from Hinton are committing their time and effort to gain international credentials through the International Dance Academy this year.

After a successful and organized year, Hinton School of Dance (HSD) showed off their best routines during two weekends of performances in May. Around 100 students took to the stage and 38 of them form the exam division who after precise training will take the international exam on June 13 and 14.

“I hold a huge value to the exam process. It helps the dancers really work towards a goal, work harder because they know they are going to be examined and adjudicated on that. I believe it brings up the quality of the school,” said Tanya Strandlund, artistic director at HSD.

The exam program was brought back by Strandlund last year after a few years hiatus and now it’s a fast growing program once again.

Masha Scheele Photo
Hinton School of Dance year-end recital

“When people really wanted it back they were asking me and that’s when we formed the program again and now it has a different weight to it. People understand the prestige behind it, and in small town when people tell you this is prestigious, this is an important program, you’re lucky we’re able to afford it, you don’t always hear that. This time around everybody was very excited and very grateful,” noted Strandlund.

According to Strandlund, more dancers have made the commitment this year to take the exam than previously. An international examiner will come from the Cecchetti Canada Society International, said Strandlund, and this year the examiner is from the Alberta Ballet.

“Then we bring in a pianist from Edmonton who is used to playing for exams. It’s a really cool experience, and we do it here in Hinton,” said Strandlund.

Dancers within the program are held to certain requirements, like an outlined amount of training each week and physical expectations. 

“In the end it’s so worth it because they have international credentials, stating that this is the level they’ve completed. They could go to any school internationally,” said Strandlund.

Strandlund said some students from HSD have gone on to train in England, dance for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and even dance for the National Ballet in New York.

“One of our dancers left last year and was accepted into the Vimy Ridge program at Edmonton School of Ballet. She’s there now. We have another dancer going to Lethbridge, one to Calgary. They’re doing fantastic, their exam results last year were wonderful,” stated Strandlund.

Strandlund is a qualified teacher of the exam program, for which she took extra training. Besides the exam division at HSD, the school also offers a recreational division, in which they learn the fundamentals of dancing but there are no time requirements, the acrobatics division, and the competitive division. The competitive division requires attendance to a specific number of classes each week in order for the dancers to compete in other areas.

HSD took part in three competitions this spring in Camrose, Edmonton, and Hinton.

Strandlund noted during the first competition HSD dancers competed against other dancers who had done three to five competitions already, which was slightly intimidating, but by the second one they nailed their craft and competed well.

Masha Scheele Photo
Hinton School of Dance year-end recital

“We only do three per season. Some schools do upwards of seven. But we won’t do that, we will never do that. We’re just not that school. We consider ourselves a very good school, but because we don’t spend all the time travelling away, it takes away class time. We feel that we’ve hit a good balance,” said Strandlund.

Strandlund organized the Hinton competition, Dance Summit, for the fourth year in a row on May 3 and 5.

Her idea for the competition was to allow the dancers and dance families to experience the competition and be able to go home at the end of each night.

Since its inception, the competition has grown from one and half days to a full three day event.

“Where I feel like it’s really grown is how we operate the school is so inclusive, it’s such a friendly environment, we really operate as a team. And that’s hard to say with a board conjoined with a faculty,” said Strandlund.

HCHS girls rugby turning heads

Tyler Waugh Photo

Tyler Waugh

The Harry Collinge Rockies senior girls 7s rugby squad may be few in numbers, but they’re wracking up some impressive results as they build towards a potential run at the zone championships next week.

Coach Rebecca Turnbull says the zones, tentatively slated for May 27 in either Drayton Valley or Thorsby, marks the first time that 7s rugby has had an Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) championship.

“We’ve had a very successful season so far, and we’re looking forward to zones in a little over a week,” said Turnbull on May 15.

“The team that wins that championship has a berth in the ASAA provincial championship for the sport!”

Turnbull said the senior girls team is full of veterans with few new players. The roster consists of Myya Ammann, Alissa Belcourt, Kara Danis, Kaity Fofonoff, Karissa Lee, Kayla Norris-Gauthier, Shelby Poppe, Micah Scott and Lila Underwood.

“Despite the small numbers – there are only nine girls on the team out of a possible 15 – their experience means that they perform very well under pressure,” said Turnbull. “Their fitness levels allow them to play most of the game without needing to be subbed off, which is absolutely necessary, since we only have two sub players.”

The squad’s first tournament May 3 in Jasper saw them place second overall after losing a hard- fought final against a team from Chestermere that was decided by a late score.

“They lost based on conversions after the try, so it was a very close game,” Turnbull said.

Hinton traveled to Drayton Valley the following weekend and opened with a rough start against the hosts.

“That game was a lopsided loss for the girls, and we spent the short break we had between games working out some of the reasons for the loss and how to do better next game,” Turnbull said.

The talk seemed to work as the squad won its next two games against John Maland High School and Spruce Grove Composite High School. As a result of these wins, they got to play in the first place final where they met the same Frank Maddock team from their first game of the day.

The Rockies were down 10-0 at the half, but they were committed to keeping it together and putting up a fight. Kara Danis scored a try with a successful conversion about four minutes into the seven-minute half.

Turnbull said the team had to fight hard to get the ball back, but they managed to win the ball back and Karissa Lee scored the winning try with a successful conversion as the last play of the game.

“The girls were elated with the victory, as it marks the first time that the Rockies have ever won against a Frank Maddock Sr. team,” Turnbull said of the win.

The squad’s performance earned players a little outside attention as well as a representative from Rugby Alberta after the game to make sure we were aware of the tryout process for the Edmonton Gold team, which is the first step in moving up to play with more advanced teams.

“They had identified a few of our players who were of interest but indicated that the whole team should apply if they wish,” Turnbull said. “I think it’s a great sign that Rugby Alberta is being proactive about making sure they see some of the small communities play as well as the larger cities, as there is a lot of talent in the province outside of the city limits.”

Archer Josh Litke has been chosen for the World Open NASP shoot in Tennessee this July

Masha Scheele Photo

Tyler Waugh

Gerard Redmond has qualified an archer for the NASP (National Archery in Schools Program) All-Star Shoot for the third-straight year with Josh Litke earning the honour in 2019.

Gerard Redmond has qualified an archer for the NASP (National Archery in Schools Program) All-Star Shoot for the third-straight year with Josh Litke earning the honour in 2019.

Litke holds a third-place ranking out of the 24 archers on the 2019 NASP World All-Star List from across Canada and earned a chance to compete at the World Open NASP tournament in Nashville TN on July 25-27.

“It’s incredible. It’s a credit to the hard work he puts in, with his team and also the time he puts in out at the range,” said Gerard Redmond archery coach Chris Storozhenko, adding that Litke follows in the footsteps of former Raiders archers Sydney Savela and Mason Meunier.

Litke, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student, earned his third ranking based on a career high 290 score at the provincial shoot held March 14 in Edmonton, finishing first overall out of 859 male competitors.

Litke was razor sharp early on at provincials – notching 14-straight perfect 10 arrows to open the shoot among 23 scores of 10. He only had one score below nine – a six he scored on his final arrow.

He notched a 283 score at the start of May at the nationals in Regina, finishing second out of 164 high school boy competitors, and third out of 501 boy competitors overall.

“The score was a bit of a step back from provincials, but I was happy,” said Litke, who had fewer 10s at nationals, but had only one score lower than nine, an eight on the first arrow.

Archers get one kick at the can at a competition. They shoot 30 scoring arrows in succession after a round of practice arrows – three rounds of five arrows at a range of 10m and then another three rounds of five arrows at 15m. The pressure builds as they wait in queue to shoot, but staying in the right head space is important to success because they only get one sequence and a few bad arrows early can kill a score.

“There is a lot of pressure, and you feel it. This year it changed for me was that I didn’t feel the pressure as much anymore. Instead of fear adrenaline the adrenaline kind of sharpened me,” Litke said, adding that he’s been taught not to let a bad shot rattle him.

“Archery is all routine. You want to do the same thing every time so that every arrow is the same.”

Litke said that it was actually a movie that got him interested in archery, citing the first time he watched Lord of The Rings – Two Towers as catching his imagination.

“When Legolas takes down the oliphaunt,” he said, adding that he began shooting when he was

12. “After that there was a summer camp out at the archery range where we got to go shoot and there were some animal targets.”

Litke was joined at nationals by sister Annelise, who is a year younger and began in archery after she saw how much fun Josh was having. She earned her own career high at the 2019 provincials with a score of 264 and since the nationals were an open competition she decided to go to Regina with Josh.

“It’s lower than I had been shooting in practice in weeks prior, so I was a little disappointed, but happy overall. At nationals I didn’t shoot as well, a lot lower than I was hoping for, but it was a great learning experience and I got to shoot in a different environment,” she said.

The two archers drove the 10-hour trip with their dad and felt that having each other was a steadying factor while getting ready to compete in a new place and surrounded by new faces.

“We ended up shooting right beside each other, so it was kind of nice. One time I got really angry because one of my arrows did something really weird but Josh was right behind me and just told me to take a deep breath and calm down and think about the next arrow,” Annelise said.

Josh said the advice he gave was just a variation on a mantra that Coach Storozhenko had told him repeatedly.

“Whenever I was shooting bad he would say something like each arrow is a new arrow, so just focus on this arrow … something along those lines,” Josh said.

“(Coach Storozhenko) is a great influence, he always wants best for you. He’s done a great job building the program.”

Injury forces local fighter Samuel Desaulniers to miss world championships

Photo provided by Samuel Desaulniers from Brooks
Masha Scheele

Hinton medieval combat fighter Samuel Desaulniers planned to take on the world’s best competitors at the International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) world championship tournament in ancient Kiev, Ukraine on May 16 to 19, but had to give up his spot after various injuries this spring.

For the second time he was ready to pack up his armour and weapons for the the global tournament after he qualified for the five and 10 man team fights, as well as the one-on-one polearm category with long spears and two handed axes. He now hopes to be back in fighting shape by summer time.

Desaulniers learned about buhurt, a type of medieval fighting, after first coming across a video on YouTube of the sport and two years later he decided to try it out.

“I started in 2015, I had just gotten out of university, got a nice student tax-return, and I thought ‘well I’m not spending it on school anymore,’” said Desaulniers, who studied Russian language and literature at the University of Alberta.

“I decided this looks fun, let’s get into it. So once I had the money I looked out for a suit and joined the Edmonton club, they referred me to the Calgary club and they brought me up to a tournament in the Yukon, in Whitehorse. And from there it kind of snowballed.”

After knocking out an opponent during a three on three fight in the Yukon for Team Alberta, a Team Canada referee approached Desaulniers and asked him if he’d like to join Team Canada.

He then prepared to go to the 2017 International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) world championship tournament at the Spøttrup castle in Denmark.

Only five people were able to go to the tournament in 2017, leaving no spare fighters during five-on-five fights if someone got injured. “I did the polearm fight and the five on five,” said Desaulniers about his first world championship experience.

“In polearm, I beat the Japanese guy, but I lost to Poland and Ukraine. The Polish guy got fourth and the Ukrainian guy received gold, so I was a little out of my depth in that pool.”

During the five on five fights, Team Canada lost one match due to armour failure and a second loss was to Team USA, a very well-organized and focused team according to Desaulniers.

“Have you seen the show Knight Fight? Those guys are massive, I fought some of those guys,” he said.

During the day, fights would take place in the fortress and at night the courtyard would be open for fighters to have a few drinks, unwind, and have a good time, said Desaulniers.

That same year, Desaulniers started his own Hinton Medieval Combat Club called the The Ice Eaters, they are a member of the heavy armoured combat society of alberta (HACSA), which is a localized branch of IMCF.

As one of the few clubs in Alberta, The Ice Eaters have five regular members and often train by Maxwell Lake. Members get together as often as their schedules allow them and participate in tournaments throughout the country.

“Summer time is tournament season. It starts with the Canada Day tourney in Whitehorse and then we go to Kimberley, and sometimes some smaller events in between. The big one is in Brooks in August. That’s where you see the most fighters usually,” said Desaulniers.

There are two fighting categories; one-on-one fights and team fights.

One-on-one fights include sword and shield, long sword, and polearms, they are one minute long, and scored like a boxing match with points for every solid hit to a legal strike area, disarming the opponent, and throwing them to the ground.

“It’s best of three. But I’ve seen it go to seven rounds. It’s exhausting with all that armour,” explained Desaulniers.

Team fights are scored differently and can best be described as armoured rugby, according to Desaulniers.

“The purpose isn’t to just go for points, it’s more to get the other team down on the ground. Make them give up,” said Desaulniers.

The worst injuries Desaulniers sustained from the sport were a split eyebrow and fractured fingers, he stated.

“In Denmark, one of the New Zealand fighters took an axe to the back of the neck and his armour was just flipped up. Luckily, nothing was broken but he was paralyzed for a couple hours. A two headed axe can be up to three kilos in weight, that’s a lot of weight for a big man to be swinging,” said Desaulniers.

Most injuries include broken bones, muscle sprains, strains, dislocations, he added, stating that an injury was also the reason why he wasn’t able to participate in the world championships in 2018.

To see the official IMCF world championship promotional video go to and to learn more about the medieval combat organization in Hinton, check out The Ice Eaters on Facebook.

Vinson raised on Ruffout rodeo

Imagine stepping into the bucking chute at a rodeo, crowds are hustling all around and the energy is high but inside that chute is the calmest part of your day.

Masha Scheele

Imagine stepping into the bucking chute at a rodeo, crowds are hustling all around and the energy is high but inside that chute is the calmest part of your day.

All you can hear are your own thoughts and the person right beside you as put your fear and mental pressures aside to go to work for 15 seconds.

Everything around you shuts off as the horse bails out of the bucking chute; there’s no better feeling. That is how saddle bronc rider Cole Vinson, who credits the Brule Ruffout Rodeo for the start of his career, described the feeling of riding bucking broncs.

“When a horse bails out of the bucking chute and you get a good spur out and you hold your feet and everything comes even and you reach up and spur him right back in the neck the next jump and they’re bailing three or four feet in the air, and you’re reaching up there and getting a hold with your spurs, and you can feel everything every time your spurs come back to the cantle of your saddle and you’re just reaching and setting your feet, and when the whistle blows it feels so good you don’t even want to get off, you just want to keep spurring,” said Vinson.

To Vinson, riding bucking broncs is like an addiction and a craving that keeps him coming back for more each time.

But it wasn’t always like this for Vinson, who grew up in Brule on his family’s ranch located on the same land as the current Brule Ruffout Rodeo.

“My favourite part of rodeoing is the 30 seconds before I get on and the 30 seconds after I get off. If you make a good ride, it’s no different in any event, for barrel racing, bull riding, you make a good run and you feel proud of yourself. At the end of the day you feel that what you’ve done is good, it’s a feeling I don’t think you can get anywhere else. I’ve dirt biked, played hockey, golfed, played a lot of sports and the adrenaline rush you get from riding bucking horses is next level, you get to the point where it’s all you want to do,” he said.

“To tell you the truth, when I was a kid, I was scared a lot. Bronc riding for me has been a lot about facing my own fears and overcoming your own adversity,” he said.

Growing up around cowboys and family members who were involved in organizing the rodeo, Vinson was fortunate to get experience at the rodeo riding sheep and calves.

“The Brule rodeo is 100 per cent why I started rodeoing and why I still rodeo. I got trophies from the sheep riding there from 1993, I was three years old then,” said Vinson.

He also won calf riding one year but quit getting on for a long time afterwards.

“I was scared. I was scared to get on cows, I think at the time I was overthinking things a bit too much and then I was a rodeo clown at the rodeo until I was probably, I think I did it for four or five years, so I was like 18 and then I took the rodeo over when I was 20,” he said.

Former president Dusty Groat stepped down around 2011 and asked Vinson if he wanted to take over as arena director.

Vinson got on a saddle bronc at 19 and pushed through his first few years to find his success.

“If I got on 250 horses, I probably fell of 230 of them and as I progressed I’ve been probably on over 500 horses and I found consistency and success in the last three or four years of my career. And that’s not just me who struggles like that. Some of these guys that come to Brule who have made the national finals rodeo one year and then next year they can’t win anything. It’s a struggle for everyone.”

Throughout Vinson’s career he qualified for the Foothills Cowboys Association finals three times in a row, the Lakeland Rodeo Association finals, the Wildrose Rodeo Association finals, the Chinook Rodeo Association finals in saddle bronc riding and more. Among other career highlights, being able to put on bronc riding at the Brule rodeo has been a major accomplishment.

“This will be my third year competing as a saddle bronc rider at Brule and it’s really an honour to compete at home. I always felt very fortunate growing up in Brule especially growing up the way I got to around cowboys,” he said.

His grandparents homesteaded in Brule in 1947 and were part of the first Brule rodeo in 1967,  his dad was also a saddle bronc rider and competed in the mid to late 70s. 

“I remember seeing a picture of my dad when I was a kid at five years old and he was riding broncs and I vividly remember going to school and getting in trouble for riding the chair on my desk trying to be a bronc rider. Now I’m 28 years old and I’ve been riding bronc for just about 10 years and it’s crazy how things happen that way, I never thought I’d get here and accomplish what I have and I’m really looking forward to accomplishing more, I’m far from done,” he said.

To organize the Brule rodeo, Vinson is part of a team of committed people putting in a lot of time and effort every year to make the rodeo happen. 

“I started putting this professional saddle bronc riding on at the 50th anniversary, which would be three years ago now. It brought new life to the rodeo.”

Some of the top cowboys come to the bronc riding in Brule, giving young cowboys an opportunity to work among the best in the world.

“I want to help every kid that wants to get involved in rodeo, because we need more kids and if it wasn’t for some people when I was a young kid, I wouldn’t still be rodeoing. It never would’ve instilled that passion in me to do what I do,” said Vinson.

The Brule Ruffout Rodeo takes place on May 4 at 12 pm for the 52nd annual family event. The lineup includes gymkhana events, sheep riding, the sheep scramble and the packhorse race.

The rodeo features a professional bronc rider show along with Travis James and his rank mini ponies. The rodeo is followed by a dance and live performance of Quinton Blair at the Brule community hall.