• 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

  • Weather

    Evening News Weather, July 6

    by KTVA Weather on Jul 06, 23:11

    Kenai Peninsula/Prince William Sound Rain for coastal areas and showers for Anchorage and the interior areas. Up to 1/3 inches of rain by Wednesday night.   Southeast Rain showers for the northern areas like Yakutat with mostly cloudy skies and mostly dry for areas south of there. Sunny skies for Ketchikan.   Interior/North Slope Smokey […]

  • News

    Chester Creek Greenbelt fire came close to Anchorage homes

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 06, 23:06

    Some people who live in the Rogers Park neighborhood may not know how lucky they are. Authorities say a fire started by homeless campers on Friday near Chester Creek Greenbelt Park could have easily spread to homes. Joanne Jenson, who lives in the area, was visiting Valdez when she heard her neighborhood was being evacuated. […]

  • News

    Special Olympics ‘Flame for Hope’ comes to Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 06, 21:57

    The “Flame of Hope” for the Special Olympics World Summer Games is making its way around the country with a stop in Anchorage on Monday. State and local law enforcement kicked off the unified relay around Anchorage. Alaska’s Sen. Dan Sullivan participated in the day’s events, lighting the torch in the official hand off for […]

  • News

    Float plane flipped on Naknek Lake

    by Hannah Colton/KDLG on Jul 06, 21:02

    Three passengers and a pilot were rescued unharmed from a PA-22 float plane that flipped in Naknek Lake around 12:30 Sunday afternoon. The Piper was piloted by Mark Romo of Aleknagik. Katmai Chief Ranger Tom Betts says the plane landed on rough waters with strong winds from the east. “Generally on an east wind day […]

  • News

    Berkowitz writes to Secretary of the Army in effort to keep troops at JBER

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 06, 17:19

    As one of his “first official acts” as Anchorage’s new mayor, Mayor Ethan Berkowitz wrote a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh, emphasizing the importance of the Fourth Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division (4-25) to the city and state’s economic and strategic futures. Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), where […]

  • News

    Human jawbone discovered at South Anchorage park

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 06, 15:33

    The Anchorage Police Department is investigating the discovery of a human jawbone found in South Anchorage on Sunday. Around 6:45 p.m., APD was contacted by a woman who claimed to have found a human jawbone in “a wood line at a park,” along the 9400 block of Brayton Drive. According to the woman, it was […]

  • News

    Firefighter Combat Challenge comes to Anchorage

    by Jacquie Slater on Jul 06, 14:53

    For the second time in its 25-year history, the Firefighter Combat Challenge made its way to Alaska as part of the Fourth of July festivities in Anchorage. Challenge founder Dr. Paul Davis first brought the challenge here for the 50th anniversary of statehood. This year, he says he brought it here to celebrate the city’s […]

  • News

    Cosby said he got drugs to give women for sex

    by Associated Press on Jul 06, 14:11

    Bill Cosby admitted in a 2005 deposition that he obtained Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with. He admitted giving the sedative to at least one woman. The Associated Press went to court to compel the release of the documents, and they were made public Monday. […]