By Gilda Salomone, Radio Canada International
Sixty-four young athletes from Nunavik, Que. are travelling to Fairbanks, Alaska this weekend to participate in the 21st Arctic Winter Games, an international sports competition for Northern athletes.
They will join hundreds of other athletes from five countries who will compete in 19 different sports, ranging from cross-country skiing and hockey to very unusual ones, such as the One Foot High Kick and the Snow Snake.
“The One Foot High Kick requires discipline, concentration … excellent body fitness and balance, and the kicks can go as high as over nine feet,” says Sarah Beaulne, communications officer for Team Nunavik-Quebec.
The event is a culmination of two years of training and competitions at local and regional levels.
“It’s a great achievement. The athletes also have a chance to live a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to make new friends and to compete on an international level, and this will mark them for the rest of their lives,” Beaulne says.
The Games help young athletes develop important skills that will serve them later on in their lives.
“They concentrate a lot on fair play and perseverance,” Beaulne adds.
Team Nunavik hopes to win some medals, but according to Beaulne, the most important thing is to give one’s best, regardless of the results.
Besides athletes, coaches and staff, five performers from the Kangiqsujuaq Brazilian Drummers will participate in cultural exchanges, daily performances and gala concerts at the games. They will bring a taste of the tropics to Alaska, via Quebec.
The Dene games were invented by the Dene, the aboriginal inhabitants of the Northern Regions of Canada and Alaska. Among the most popular Dene games played at the Arctic Winter Games are the Finger Pull, the Stick Gambling and the Snow Snake.
Arctic sports include traditional Inuit games, well known in northern Canada and Greenland, and some traditional sports from northern Russia. Some of the more popular Arctic sports are the One Foot High Kick, the Alaskan High Kick, the One Hand Reach , the Airplane.