How the Arctic Games can survive without snow

How the Arctic Games can survive without snow

This March, Kyle Ḵaayák’w Worl will return to the push-up position and jump on his fists an excruciating 60 yards (55 m) to break his personal best and the world record his father held for decades. But, he tells me, the merit of the “knuckle hop” goes to his indigenous ancestors who got down on all fours, disguised in animal skins, to harpoon the seals sunbathing on the ice floe when the light finally came. returned to the Arctic in the spring.

“There are only two creatures in the Arctic that walk on two legs, namely polar bears and humans. So the seals knew that if they saw something on two legs, they would have to dive into the ocean and get out of there,” said Worl, who lives in Juneau, Alaska.

The centuries-old hunting and fishing methods of the peoples of northern Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Scandinavia were passed down through sports and games. Today, the Arctic Winter Games, known as the “Northern Olympics,” are held every two years to continue these customs. This year the event will take place in the Mat-Su Borough near Anchorage, Alaska from March 10-16.

Here, athletes of all ages will compete in events such as the knuckle hop and a two-person tug-of-war for hand strength before fishing season, called a “finger pull.” Teams will perform ancient rituals like Inuit Yup’ik dancing and throat singing, while the under-21s will also compete in traditional sports like hockey, skiing and table tennis.

Since the first Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, Alaska, in 1970, the competition – which was almost canceled altogether after Covid – has allowed athletes to keep their Nordic traditions alive despite extreme conditions, the isolation and colonization.

But the traditions of the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut, Nunavik-Quebec and Northern Alberta; Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland); the Sápmi region encompassing the northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden; and the Russian delegation from Yamal (absent this year) are undoubtedly at greater risk than ever.



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