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

About 2,000 athletes, coaches and support staff will be in Fairbanks for this year's games. The majority of the sports have athletes ranging in age from 10-24. However, there are no age restrictions.

Games' general manager Karen Lane said the event is generating some additional interest since it will follows the Winter Olympics in Sochi. "It is creating a bit of extra buzz,” Lane said. "It's great it's being held the same year as the Olympics even though some of our sports are so different."

This list includes traditional winter sports, but there's also plenty of indoor sports being contested including badminton, gymnastics, indoor soccer and table tennis.

Alberta North's Kira Mullally kicks the 6-foot mark in the junior female one-foot high kick Thursday, March 9, 2006, during the Arctic Winter Games in Kenai, Alaska. Kira placed eighth in the event. (AP Photo/Matt Hage)

All of the participants represent one of the nine contingents at the Games. Alaska is the only team that represents the U.S. Alaska won 190 medals in 2012, finishing considerably ahead of the runners-up from Yukon, who took home 122 medals. Canada sends five contingents, representing Alberta North, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon and the northern Quebec entry of Nunavik.

Greenland will send participants; as well as teams Sapmi, from Finland, Norway and Sweden, and Yamal from Russia.

Though medal standings are kept, Lane insists the focus is not on those who finish on the top. "In the Arctic Winter Games medals are not as important as the cultural aspect," she said. "The focus is on the cultural exchange and the interaction of athletes from the circumpolar North."

Cultural performances, including throat singing, drumming and Native dancing, will be held every day of the Games.The games have been staged every two years since 1970. Fairbanks has hosted the Games twice before, in 1982 and 1988.

"We're excited to host this," Lane said. "The economic impact for this is expected to be $13 million."



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