WEIO a family affair for athletes young and old
As World Eskimo-Indian Olympics athletes took the floor of the Carlson Center in Fairbanks for games like the toe kick and one hand reach, Carol Hull sat at her craft table chatting with passersby.
She may not compete in the games any more, but Hull still has fond memories from her heyday as an athlete.
“As I made myself try every event to find out what I was good at I was a one-foot high kicker,” Hull recalled. “I think it’s 20-some years now I held the record in the traditional one foot high kick, which is at seven feet.”
For Hull, WEIO has always been a family affair.
“This is getting ready to set up for the seal skin contest and I was narrating,” she said looking through pictures on her phone. “That’s me and my husband.”
In fact, WEIO is where the couple met as teenagers. Years later she and Garry Hull tied the knot.
“Ooh, 10 years next month,” she laughed. “It’s been happiness and bliss ever since. This, coming to WEIO with his kids my kids, it make us whole because we’re all into it.”
Head official Sam Strange makes the yearly trip to Fairbanks a family vacation as well.
“In general it’s a big family reunion from all over the state so you get to see people you haven’t seen in a year,” Strange said.
His wife Michelle Strange is a strong competitor in the ear pull and Sam does well in the greased pole walk.
Their nine-year-old daughter Shelby isn’t officially allowed to compete in the games but loves to take part in the Race of the Torch with Michelle.
For the first time their son Seth, now 12, is old enough to compete.
“It’s always unique to see your own kids start to compete in games you competed at. Of course I was asked if I was going to compete and I’m like, I don’t know. I’m getting older and hurting,” Strange laughed. He said as athletes get older they focus more on the strength events, like the four man carry, instead of the kicking games which take speed and agility.
Seth’s first event was the kneel jump on Wednesday. He’s got a list of other events he wants to try out. “Bench reach, drop the bomb and ear pull,” Seth said.
While the younger, more agile competitors like Seth take the stage now Hull is happy to watch from the sidelines of her kuspuk booth. She said that’s her way of staying connected to the games.
“In my heart I will always want to do these games but when you get older you have to do something else. Just stay involved and it makes your heart feel better.”
WEIO continues through Saturday, July 22. Click here for a full schedule of events.