Rubik’s Cube sponsorship scam hasn’t dampened young Yellowknifer’s speed-cubing spirit

November 1, 2021
Rubik's Cube sponsorship scam hasn't dampened young Yellowknifer's speed-cubing spirit

A young Yellowknifer still wants to share his skills for solving Rubik’s Cubes in the North, after he was targeted by a scammer who offered a fake sponsorship for a world-leading speed-cubing team. 

“I’d like to get a bigger community [of cubers] going in Yellowknife and then start up competitions here,” Owen Wilkes, 13, told CBC News. 

“Not official ones. It’d be smaller competitions with groups and stuff, but I’m just trying to make it bigger here, especially because it’s not that common here to see somebody solving [a] Rubik’s Cube.”

Wilkes’s mother, Cherish Winsor, said it was disappointing to learn the sponsorship opportunity wasn’t real.

“It’s not clear why this person did what they did, but Owen is handling it well and still plans to teach and share his passion,” along with participating in competitions, she wrote on Facebook. 

Yellowknife teen solves Rubik’s Cube in seconds

Owen Wilkes, 13, says he can usually solve the puzzle in four to five seconds. 1:43

Wilkes was introduced to the Rubik’s Cube by his music teacher three years ago, and he’s been hooked on the popular puzzle ever since. His sponsorship, and the subsequent discovery of the scam, was first reported by Cabin Radio earlier this week. 

On average, Wilkes said he can solve a cube in between four to five seconds. The official world record is 3.47 seconds.

“You have to practise every day as hard as you can — there’s no breaks. If you want to become really good, you have to practise. It’s kind of the same with everything else, though.”

Winsor said she’s proud of her son and what he’s been able to accomplish, and will support his passion wherever that might take him in the future.

“He always has a Rubik’s Cube in his hand. It’s something that he enjoys and he’s spending the time practising like any athlete.

“He puts in the time, he puts in the effort to learn the algorithms and to learn the skills. So we’re obviously pretty proud of that.”

Wilkes has never had the chance to compete in person in a tournament. In the last year he’s been excited trying online competitions, since COVID-19 made it difficult to travel out of province. 

“It’d be nice to go to [in person] competitions, but I just have no clue if that’s happening or not. Competitions are fun to have, but I do a lot of them online and those are fun too.”

Wilkes said being in the North makes it a bit more difficult to compete. He’d like to get more people involved and is talking with the City of Yellowknife and the library about giving lessons and getting more people involved.

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