• 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

  • On-Air

    Inside the Gates: Change of command for the Army’s 4/25

    by Lauren Maxwell on Mar 24, 20:55

    A change of command ceremony on JBER Friday morning welcomed a new leader to the nation’s only Arctic airborne combat brigade. Col. Paul Larson assumed command of the Army’s 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team. It’s the first assignment in Alaska for Larson, who spent the last six months in Afghanistan. When asked about the challenges […]

  • Lifestyle

    UAA unveils Alaska’s first lactation pod for nursing mothers

    by Shannon Ballard on Mar 24, 20:37

    Nursing mothers at the University of Alaska Anchorage now have a dedicated, private space to feed their babies or pump breast milk. A new lactation pod is located on the first floor of the student union, and is the first of its kind in the entire state. It features seating, shelves, electrical outlets and USB […]

  • Politics

    28 years later, Exxon Valdez still casts shadow as Alaskans weigh in on oil tax change

    by Liz Raines on Mar 24, 19:44

    Friday marked the 28th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill — and the end of a long week of debate in Juneau on big policy changes for the oil industry. Tensions leftover from the historic event have spilled over into a battle on oil tax credits. While lawmakers are welcoming of the revenue that oil […]

  • Sports

    Results: ASAA 3A, 4A high school basketball semifinals

    by Dave Goldman on Mar 24, 18:49

    Results from Friday’s semifinal games at the Alaska Airlines Center. Please check back; this story will be updated as games are completed. 3A Boys Semifinal Monroe Catholic 42 – Valdez 40 The Rams held off the Buccaneers’ late rally to advance to the title game. Valdez’ slow start didn’t help as it went scoreless in the […]

  • News

    Good Samaritan cleans graffiti from park strip train

    by Lauren Maxwell on Mar 24, 17:55

    ANCHORAGE — A good Samaritan has helped to remove the graffiti from the train that sits on the Delaney Park Strip, and it wasn’t the person who first volunteered to do the job in the first place. The graffiti was discovered Wednesday morning. Anchorage park planner Maeve Lavtar said she had instructed city maintenance crews […]

  • Sports

    Sitka basketball team returns to Anchorage after receiving national honor

    by Dave Leval on Mar 24, 17:08

      The Sitka Wolves basketball team are champions, and it has nothing to do with shooting percentage or rebounds. They made a return to Anchorage this week during the state basketball tournament. While their quest for a state title ended after a first round loss to Monroe Catholic, the Wolves were reminded of a much […]

  • Politics

    Young hails demise of health bill, wants more work on issue

    by Associated Press on Mar 24, 16:00

    The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House says he would have voted against a GOP health care bill had it been brought to a vote. U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska says it was not good legislation. He says it would have hurt people on Medicaid and did not address issues with high costs. The […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: Rhythm Future Quartet

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 24, 13:15

    Keeping the genre of gypsy jazz alive, the acoustic ensemble Rhythm Future Quartet will be touring Alaska for two weeks. Their first stop is downtown Anchorage. From there they will cross the state, going from Kodiak to Skagway. According to violinist Jason Anick, gypsy jazz is a style of music that was pioneered in France during […]