Team Alaska arrives in Canada for Arctic Winter Games
After a full day of travel all of Team Alaska’s athletes, coaches and mission staff have arrived in Canada for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games.
This year the games are split between two communities in the Northwest Territories, Hay River and Fort Smith.
Team Alaska took two separate Alaska Airlines charter flights from Anchorage to Yellowknife, the province capital, on Friday. Hay River was a six-hour bus ride south; Fort Smith was a nine-hour drive.
Hay River is a town of 3,600 on the south end of the Great Slave Lake. Fort Smith, which borders Alberta, has about 2,500 residents.
Because the communities are so small, the host society has had to get creative with sporting venues. In Hay River, volleyball is being played on a curling rink; gymnastics and wrestling will be in Rowe’s Construction’s warehouse, which has been converted into an arena.
Hay River also just finished renovating its recreation center with a brand-new ice rink. That’s where men’s hockey and the opening ceremony will be held.
Hay River's mayor, Brad Mapes, said there are many challenges to hosting an international event.
“Our restaurants are going to be full -- we only have four restaurants,” Mapes said. “For us to host everyone, to accommodate visitors, everyone’s houses are full of people.”
The Arctic Winter Games are held every two years in different cities around the world. Nuuk, Greenland hosted in 2016; Fairbanks, Alaska hosted in 2014.
The games bring in more than 2,000 people from nine Arctic contingents: Alaska, Yamal (Russia), Sapmi (Northern Europe), Greenland, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alberta, Nunavik (Quebec) and Nunavut.
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