April 15, 2024

Fort McMurray athletes defended their wins and located new victories as a part of a smaller Staff Alberta North. The Arctic Winter Video games is debating the way forward for the occasion this fall.

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Athletes from Fort McMurray Wooden Buffalo have returned from this 12 months’s Arctic Winter Video games with dozens of medals in 15 occasions. Staff Alberta North, which included 66 athletes and coaches from the area, completed third on this 12 months’s medal rankings with 43 gold medals, 42 silver medals and 37 bronze medals.

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“It was a wonderful expertise for all of the athletes concerned and never simply with sports activities,” mentioned Mike Cox, who coached Alberta’s alpine snowboarding staff. “Attending to see that a part of the world and the way lovely it’s was superb. It’s simply an incredible place on the whole.”

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After being absent from final 12 months’s video games, Fort McMurray wrestlers received two golds, a silver and bronze. Gymnasts received a gold and bronze, whereas Fort McKay archer Tayden Shott received a bronze. Final 12 months, the area didn’t podium in each occasions.

Alberta’s feminine hockey staff efficiently defended the gold medals received on the 2023 video games. The male staff received gold after taking house silver final 12 months.

“The organizers and the occasion have been simply unimaginable… it was a really rewarding expertise,” mentioned Dan Hodgson, who coached the women’ hockey staff. “It was unimaginable how the women caught up for each other. They noticed the rewards with working laborious, working for one another and following the method. It was spectacular to see.”

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Alpine skiiers with Staff Alberta North exhibit their medals throughout the Arctic Winter Video games in Mat-Su Valley, Alaska. Fort McMurray’s Axel Lecompte (left) has two golds and a silver, Tula Sundholm (second from left) has three silvers, and Julianna Ryan (proper) has a gold, silver and bronze. Dozens of Fort McMurray Wooden Buffalo athletes are competing in Alaska. Picture equipped by 2024 Arctic Winter Video games

Veterans of the 2023 Arctic Winter Video games mentioned they cherished seeing Fort McMurray Wooden Buffalo stuffed with athletes and delegates from throughout the circumpolar north, nevertheless it was thrilling to see how the video games have been dealt with in a brand new group.

Everybody interviewed had type issues to say in regards to the group of the video games. The cultural occasions continued traditions of celebrating and acknowledging the histories of the north’s Indigenous nations and arctic cultures. The video games additionally uncovered individuals to new sports activities, notably Indigenous sports activities.

Pin buying and selling continued to be common among the many totally different groups. Competing in opposition to Staff Alaska was a problem since they’d the house benefit. Ultimately, Staff Alaska received the medal rely with 70 golds, 84 silvers and 68 bronze medals.

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“A objective for us as a staff once we received to Alaska was to attempt to see among the cultural occasions on the video games, as these usually are not on the athletes’ typical competitions. We noticed among the Arctic Sports activities. Two-foot high-kick, wow! These athletes are unimaginable,” mentioned Tania Miller-Sauve, who has coached Staff Alberta North for the reason that 2018 Arctic Winter Video games and is concerned with Noralta Skating Membership.

“I actually loved the video games. We noticed among the cultural occasions… I cherished the competitors a part of it, competing in opposition to different individuals and getting medals,” mentioned Kiara Stannard, a 13-year-old determine skater from Anzac who received a gold and silver. “It was fascinating to see how individuals skated in another way than individuals in my membership.”

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L-R: Fort McMurray determine skaters Alexis Robinson, Isabella Scheers and Kiara Stannard with their medals on the 2024 Arctic Winter Video games in Mat-Su Valley, Alaska. Picture by Tania Miller-Sauve

Way forward for the Arctic Winter Video games to be debated

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Staff Alberta North despatched a smaller delegation to Alaska in comparison with what was featured final 12 months in Fort McMurray. A single male futsal staff, which received bronze, was despatched in comparison with 4 final 12 months. There was no basketball staff. The cultural delegation was smaller.

Sending giant contingents from northern communities is dear. Many communities throughout the circumpolar north wrestle economically and socially, and have few amenities to coach. Even training is expensive when athletes are sometimes unfold throughout the north. Staff Alberta North was largely made up of athletes from Fort McMurray Wooden Buffalo and the Grande Prairie area.

John Rodda, president of the worldwide committee overseeing the Arctic Winter Video games, says the video games must adapt to those social and financial challenges.

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Warming winters can be turning into a hurdle for organizers. A hotter-than-usual winter additionally hit Alaska this 12 months. Cox mentioned when he returned to Fort McMurray, the area was colder than Mat-Su Valley.

Rodda informed Ollie Williams of the Yellowknife-based Cabin Radio that delegations are answering surveys about the way forward for the video games. That suggestions will inform a fall assembly in Whitehorse on the subject.

“Is the two-year rotation best-suited? Is it sustainable? Does it meet the wants of creating northern youth? All of that’s into account,” he mentioned. “If we modify the rotation, what does that appear like? They’re all items of dialogue. However sure, finance comes into it.”

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