When the first athlete emerged from the doors leading from customs into the north terminal of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the crowd burst into applause.

More than 100 family members and friends had been anxiously waiting for Team Alaska to return from the Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland. Gov. Bill Walker was among the fans in the crowd. After a one-hour flight delay, the athletes began coming through the doors one by one.

“The whole community is rallying behind them and is just so proud of them,” said Tish Hernandez-Moorhead, the mother of 16-year-old Emily Moorhead, a member of the Alaska volleyball team. “We feel they represented Alaska and the USA very well.”

She and Stephanie Williams, another athlete’s mother, had a bouquet of yellow roses to pass out to each member of the team.

When they finally emerged from customs, Hernandez-Moorhead ran up to her daughter.

“I missed you so much,” Hernandez-Moorhead said.

Emily said she savored every minute of her time in Greenland.

“It was beyond gorgeous. It was beautiful. It was like Alaska times 10,” Emily said.

Her volleyball team came home with a gold ulu after defeating two-time defending champion Alberta. She said working with players from around the state posed a fun challenge.

“It was difficult [at first] because we had never played before, but then we all clicked,” Emily said. “It’s a really good group of girls.”

Tired and hungry, Emily said she’s most looking forward to eating more familiar meals.

“I really missed American food,” she said.

In all, Team Alaska came home with 216 medals, far more than any other team. Athletes representing Yukon Territory came in second place, with 100 ulus.

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