Chris Stipdonk wins last major knuckle hop but just misses record
Chris Stipdonk said he will step out of the niche and the exhilarating world of ankle jumping after winning gold at the Arctic Winter Games but narrowly missing the game’s record distance.
In the ankle jump, you rest your toes and ankles in a push-up position, then hop around on the gym floor as far as you can.
A former Fort Simpson resident now based in Yellowknife, Stipdonk is a master of art. He holds the world record and was the clear favorite at Wednesday night’s event, meaning the main question was whether he could break the 1988 Arctic Winter Games record of 191 feet.
He came within a meter.
“I sort of knew I was going to be close to making it,” Stipdonk said afterwards as his wife cleaned wounds on his ankles. His young children were in the crowd at the Suncor Community Center in Fort McMurray.
“I put my heart into it. I said I will do that. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to do this event, but people were really interested, people wanted to see it,” he said.
“I gave everything. I can’t go any further at this point. I have no regrets about being here, there are no second guesses, no second thoughts. I’m really happy and my kids will be happy for me.
“You do your best and have fun. It’s not fun, but I did my best.”
“I won’t do that again”
Knuckle Hop is a banner event at the Arctic Winter Games. More than a dozen teams of reporters tuned in to Stipdonk’s performance, which the CBC broadcast live throughout the North during its evening newscast.
There are layers to go beyond the raw – very raw – spectacle on the floor.
For example, the 191-foot game record, set in the 1980s, belongs to Rodney Worl of Alaska. Rodney’s son Kyle, who has been trying to match that record for years, finished second on Wednesday. He fell to the ground at 166 feet and five inches, far from the chasing pack but not within reach of his father’s best work.
Stipdonk himself came to Fort McMurray at the apparent end of a years-long history.
His ankle jumps took center stage in 2014 and 2016, but a travel issue meant he missed the NWT’s trials for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games and was not selected.
With competitive knuckle hop events barely happening once a year and the events’ pandemic years, Stipdonk has competed at most three or four times since 2016.
After waiting seven years for more Arctic Winter Games, he roamed a warm-up area with headphones on while competitors hopped. As soon as he was done, he gave Mrs Amy a warm hug, despite the agony of narrowly missing the record. Chris Stipdonk preparing for the ankle jump at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games. Ollie Williams/Team NT James Williams competes for Team NT in the ankle jump. Ollie Williams/Team NT
“That’s it, man,” he said, pulling up chairs for the two of them.
Stipdonk says he may still compete in the ankle jump at selection events for future Arctic Winter Games – where performance can mean points toward NWT team formation – but he has no plans to compete at game level again. He would rather focus on several other arctic sporting events where he has a good chance of an ulu.
“I’m not doing this again,” he said of ankle jumping.
“I’m exhausted. I’m too old for this shit.”