Logan Clow/Daily Herald-Tribune
A snowboarder grabs some air at the slopestyle event during the Arctic Winter Games Trials.

Hardcore Version of Olympics: the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks

Sam Laskaris

Erica Meckel is hoping to add to her already impressive medal collection from a multi-sport competition.

The 25-year-old Koyukon Athabascan will be participating in the Arctic Winter Games from March 15-22 in her hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, which features 20 sports.

This will mark the fourth time that Meckel has competed in the games, which are held every two years and for athletes from the circumpolar North. Meckel will participate in Arctic Sports, which features 11 separate disciplines, including the one-foot high kick, two-foot high kick and the kneel jump.

Those in the high kick events are judged by how high they can kick a sealskin ball dangling from a pole. The kneel jump is similar to long jump, but competitors start off on their knees and see how far they can jump and land on their feet after propelling themselves forward.

Meckel said she's averaged about four medals from each of her previous Arctic Games. She'll compete in six of the seven events offered to those in the open women's category (18 and over). But she isn't necessarily keying in on how much hardware she'll garner.

"My goal isn't based on how many medals I can win," she told ICTMN. "Instead, I'm focusing on whether I can do ‘personal bests’ in my events."

She’s also looking forward to competing in her hometown. "I'm pretty excited about that," said Meckel, a former competitive gymnast. "My family and co-workers can come watch."

Since graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2010, Meckel has been working as a juvenile probation officer. She first competed at the Arctic Games in 2008 in Yellowknife, located in the Northwest Territories. She also took part at the 2010 and 2012 games, held in Grande Prairie, Alberta and Whitehorse, Yukon, respectively.


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