In early March I was able to participate in the largest multisport event in the circumpolar north, The Arctic Winter Games. With over 2000 athletes in 20 sports it was a huge effort put together by well over 2000 volunteers. The athletes came from nine different contingents; Team Alaska, Team Yukon, Team Alberta North, Team Northwest Territories, Team Nunavut, Team Nunavik from northern Quebec, Team Greenland, Team Yamalo-Nenets from Russia and the Sàmi people from the Sàpmi region including the countries; Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia. As an off season training sport I train and compete with the Yukon Cross-Country Ski Team. These races were a great way to test my limits as the competition was harder than ever!
Over a period of five days we had four races, two skate and two classic. The first day we had a five kilometre skate race. Five kilometres is one of those distances where you go out hard and just keep on pushing through the pain. It was a tough race for everyone.
The second race was a classic 750m sprint. It was a full day starting with a qualifier in the morning and heats in the afternoon. The crowd turn out was great and I sure could hear them all cheering for me! The next day we got a deserved rest day where I barely managed to pull off a 40 minute ski. On Thursday the much anticipated long distance race arrived. We had a ten kilometre classic in fairly snowy conditions. Everyone from the Yukon raced their best and we won a handful of medals!
Yukon Skier brings home Gold!
The races finished off on Friday with the fun relay event. It was a 3 x 5km skate race. At this point in the competition everyone was exhausted but we went out there and had some fun. It has always been a tradition of the relay to dress up so my team decided to where garbage bags instead of race suit tops. Let’s just say I probably won’t use that idea again. The cultural games came to an end on Saturday evening with a fun and eventful ceremonies. This was my third and final Arctic Winter Games for cross-country skiing but the memories I took from the races and events I will never forget.