• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 34s

Arctic sports test strength and agility

By Heather Hintze 11:01 PM March 17, 2014

The kneel jump and one-hand reach took center stage at the Arctic Winter Games.

FAIRBANKS - With a loud thud, the Arctic sports kicked off its first event at the Arctic Winter Games, the kneel jump.

“I’ve done the kneel jump, so it’s one of my personal favorites as far as the competition goes,” said Nicole Johnston, a game official. “I love the explosive action that goes off the kneel jump and I know how difficult it can be.”

Competitors have to keep their knees on the ground. They say unlike the Native Youth Olympics, at the Arctic Winter Games they’re not allowed to rock back and forth to get up.

“I like how you have to swing yourself up and use all your momentum. It’s easy to catch onto, but landing is the challenging part,” said Mekhai Rich, a member of Team Alaska from Kenai.

Like all the Arctic events, the kneel jump isn’t just a game; it’s also a cultural tradition and survival skill.

“For example, you’re down on your knees and you’re butchering an animal and a bear or a wolf pack kind of sneaks up on you — because they can be stealth and very quiet and you don’t realize they’re there — and you have to jump quickly and move quickly to get up and away,” Johnston said.

Another test of agility is the one-hand reach.

“There’s a lot of technique involved and a lot of balance, so learning how to do the one-hand reach takes a lot of time and determination if it’s something you want to do,” said Drew Bell from Team Nunavut, a contingent from Canada.

Competitors must balance on one hand with their legs off the ground and reach up with another hand to touch a suspended ball. Every round the ball is moved four inches higher until four men are left. From there it’s raised two inches every round.

After they touched the ball, the men have to show they have control of their legs and continue to hold them off the ground until the official gives them the go-ahead to stop.

Johnston said it’s a game indigenous people played in their small, sod houses in the winter.

“To help build the core,  physical strength and mental preparation during the long, cold winter months because it takes up so very little room it was a good way to stay in shape and work on your strength and you’re coordination and your agility,” she said.

The sport not only brings out the best athletes, but also the best attitudes as well. When one person missed, members from other teams went into to provide strategies and form techniques to help them out.

“It’s awesome, you know everyone coming together and helping one another, the sportsmanship, the respect for not only one another, but for the games — that’s huge,” said Team Alaska competitor Casey Ferguson who won the game, reaching 5’6.”

It’s the spirit of camaraderie that makes the Arctic sports special and keeps competitors coming back to show off their skills.

Latest Stories

  • News

    In Spenard, Celestial Sweets moves into former Sugar Spoon location

    by Heather Hintze on Jan 27, 16:00

    A popular Spenard bakery has a new owner and a new name. Celestial Sweets Boutique moved into the old Sugar Spoon location at the intersection of Spenard Road and 26th Avenue at the end of November. Owner Liz Madsen worked as a pastry chef at Kinley’s Restaurant and Bar for about three years. She says […]

  • News

    Wisconsin plane heading to Alaska crashes, killing 1

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 27, 12:40

    A plane heading to Alaska has crashed, leaving one man dead and two injured, according to Wisconsin officials. The Clark Country Sheriff’s office was notified of the crash around 10:43 a.m. Monday, along Center Road in Hoard, Wisconsin, after two 911 calls were made, one by the pilot. The pilot, 27-year-old Mark Siegwart of Hammond, […]

  • News

    4 rockets launched into northern lights to study turbulence

    by Associated Press on Jan 27, 11:21

    Four NASA soundings rockets were launched within a half hour into the northern lights in an effort to better understand and visualize turbulent air currents in the upper atmosphere. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://is.gd/NTxf0H) the rockets appeared to have produced data in the early Monday morning launches near Fairbanks. The launches into the active […]

  • News

    Bergdahl decision expected in days

    by CNN on Jan 27, 11:14

    The Army is expected to decide in the coming days how to proceed with disciplinary action against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who left his post in Afghanistan, and was captured and held by the Taliban for years before being exchanged last year for five detainees from Guantanamo Bay, but Pentagon officials are insisting no decision […]

  • News

    Obama places parts of Beaufort, Chukchi seas off-limits for future oil and gas leasing

    by Hope Miller on Jan 27, 8:42

    The Obama administration is placing parts of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off-limits from consideration for future oil and gas leasing, citing the need to protect areas critical for subsistence use by Alaska Natives. The Tuesday announcement comes as the administration is also proposing to open up a broad area of the Atlantic Coast for […]

  • News

    Pick.Click.Give. hits $1 million mark

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jan 27, 8:11

    Alaskans are proving generous with their Permanent Fund Dividend checks. The people who run the Pick.Click.Give. program say they hit the $1 million mark over the weekend. Program Manager Heather Beaty said the money was raised in a record amount of time. The average donation is right around the $100 level, but even people who […]

  • Weather

    Daybreak weather, Jan. 27

    by Brett Shepard on Jan 27, 7:54

    Mostly to partly cloudy skies today with a few morning snow showers up and down the Cook Inlet. In the Southeast the weather will be quiet with mostly to partly cloudy skies. In the Interior it will be bitterly cold again with patchy ice fog in the valleys. On the North Slope skies will be […]

  • News

    Alaska Air Guard deploys to Africa

    by Bonney Bowman on Jan 27, 7:33

    The families of 70 Alaska Air National Guard members are saying goodbye as the unit prepares to deploy. The members of the 176th Wing and the 210th Rescue Squadron are headed to the Horn of Africa for four months. They’ll be flying rescue missions for both military and civilian personnel who need evacuation. It’s Tech Sgt. […]