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Dealing with Old Man Winter

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baker Lake was among the communities that played host to visiting athletes longer than expected when a three-day blizzard rocked the Kivalliq region this past week.

NNSL photo/graphic

A Cat operator plows his way through a large snow bank near the Kivalliq Inuit Association's building in Rankin Inlet after a three-day blizzard finally came to a halt this past week. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

About 80 basketball players were stuck in Baker during the blizzard while Rankin Inlet hosted a number of soccer players and a group of wrestlers were stuck in Cape Dorset longer than anticipated.

Kyle Seeley of the Culture, Language, Elders and Youth's sport and recreation division in Baker Lake said athletes stranded in Baker were housed at Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School and the community hall.

He said the players were kept comfortable with sleeping mats, food, supplies and video games.

"When storms like this hit, it impacts the host groups running the events

the most," said Seeley.

"They're the ones who feel the most significant strain because those stranded need to be accommodated, fed and supervised for that additional period of time.

"In Baker, the host community did a great job in accommodating the kids and making sure everyone was kept warm and safe."

Seeley said as far as travel logistics are concerned when bad weather hits, the biggest challenge is figuring out when everyone will be able to fly from the host community, make their connections and return home.

He said travel to many events is a combination of charter and regularly scheduled flights.

"Weather delays happen in every community, and the majority of extra work is done by local volunteers.

"It's one thing when an event is totally weathered out, but often it's only one or two communities that can't get to a camp or tournament.

"We saw that with badminton in Iqaluit about three weeks ago, when the weather went bad and a few teams didn't make it.

"In that case the winners among the teams who made it will compete against the teams that didn't, but every sport has its own way of dealing with these things."

Seeley said each sport has its own selection process and a way to accommodate athletes or coaches who are affected by things that are out of their control, such as bad weather or mechanical problems with aircraft.

He said the biggest hurdle is the fact it is almost impossible to plan for any number of different weather scenarios.

"The territorial sports organizations have done a good job of addressing these issues when they arise.

"They always seem to find creative solutions to make sure kids get an opportunity to participate in their tournament, and are evaluated properly for their chance to compete at the Arctic Winter Games.

"And, no matter what community is affected, the recreation department always steps up to help the volunteer group hosting the event when athletes get weathered in."

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