Ground Zero: Yellowknife
Arctic Winter Games comes to town

by Anne-Marie Jennings
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 16/98) - Since 1970, athletes from the circumpolar nations of the world have gathered every two years to compete in an athletic and cultural event unlike any other.

This year, Yellowknife is once again hosting the Arctic Winter Games, and welcomes more than 1,500 athletes, coaches, officials, and events staff for a week of competition, culture, new friends and new experiences.

The Arctic Winter Games were originally established as an afterthought at the 1967 Canada Winter Games. Representatives from the Yukon and the NWT recognized that the relatively small athletic pool in the two territories, combined with a lack of adequate facilities and infrequent training opportunities were resulting in a lower quality of athlete in all sports.

Since the first Games were held in Yellowknife in 1970, athletes from Russia, Alaska, Greenland, northern Alberta, the Yukon and NWT have met every two years for a week of friendly competition.

Eighteen sports are now a part of the Games, ranging from hockey, curling, and figure skating to the more unique events of traditional arctic and Dene events. The Games have also developed a decidedly cultural aspect to its proceedings, with a number of cultural presentations from all regions of the circumpolar world.

But what sets these most recent Games apart from those of days gone by is the impending change in the number of regions which will represented in the next Arctic Winter Games in 2000.

By the time the Games roll around once more, Nunavut will have become a new and distinct territory from the Western Arctic, adding another important first to the event as well as the opportunity for new and different stories.

Watch for coverage of the stories and figures of the 1998 Arctic Winter Games in both the Yellowknifer and News/North.