• 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

  • Lifestyle

    Anchorage Opera heads to rural Alaska to perform Inupiaq adaptation of ‘Hansel & Gretel’

    by Heather Hintze on Feb 11, 18:31

    The Anchorage Opera is taking its show in the road. It has partnered with the University of Alaska Anchorage Opera Ensemble to put on a performance called “Aklaq and Nayak,” an Inupiaq adaptation of Hansel and Gretel. It’s the first production in the opera’s education touring program called “AO-2-Go.” With funding from the Nome Arts […]

  • News

    Officials: Barrow man pointed shotgun at police before being shot, killed

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 11, 17:14

    BARROW — The North Slope Borough released new information Thursday in the officer-involved shooting death of 36-year-old Vincent Nageak III. Police were called to a home at the 7400 block of North Star St. in Barrow Wednesday at around 3:30 a.m. Upon arrival, the person who made the 911 call, as well as children inside […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Battle over our PFD – Will it be ice cream or gas?

    by John Tracy on Feb 11, 16:14

    Would you give up your PFD check if it was needed to balance the state’s budget?  Here’s what I want you to imagine: A car is 20 miles from home and almost out of gas. In the car are mom and dad, and three kids in the back seat. They have two dollars. They can […]

  • Lifestyle

    GM recalling 473,000 trucks and SUV’s for brake pedal problem

    by Associated Press on Feb 11, 15:22

    General Motors is recalling more than 473,000 trucks and SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because the brake pedals can come loose and fail to work properly. The recall covers certain 2015 and 2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD, GMC Sierra HD and Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicles. GM says a nut on the brake pedal pivot mechanism […]

  • News

    Muni questions AST on future law enforcement along Turnagain Arm

    by Bonney Bowman on Feb 11, 14:58

    The Anchorage Muni is asking Alaska State Troopers to clarify their role in enforcing the law along Turnagain Arm. Municipal Attorney William Falsey sent a letter to AST, which asserts that state law requires troopers to enforce laws anywhere there isn’t a local police force. APD jurisdiction currently ends at McHuge Creek. Troopers have said […]

  • DayBreak

    Healthy Sexuality Week at UAA

    by Daybreak Staff on Feb 11, 13:48

    Healthy sexuality is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality.” As Valentine’s Day draws near, the University of Alaska Anchorage is raising awareness in a week’s worth of events. Thursday, Kate Fitzgerald, a health promotions specialist with UAA joined Daybreak to talk […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: The Midnight Sons A Capella Chorus

    by Daybreak Staff on Feb 11, 13:40

    Nothing says I love you, like a song. A singing telegram on Valentine’s Day may be what you need to win over your sweetheart. Thursday, Midnight Sons A Capella Chorus joined Daybreak for a Valentine’s Day edition of Mic Check in the Morning. They gave viewers a taste of what can be expected if you […]

  • Lifestyle

    US stocks fall for fourth straight day

    by Associated Press on Feb 11, 13:10

    U.S. stocks fell for the fourth day in a row as concerns about global economic weakness intensified, even as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reiterated her confidence in the U.S. economy. Financial stocks fell hardest Thursday as investors worried that interest rates in the U.S. and elsewhere would remain low and sap bank profits. Oil […]