The flame was extinguished, and the flag lowered, as the 19th Arctic Winter Games came to a close Saturday night at the Soldotna Sports Centre.
To the beat of the Urgan Drum Concept, athletes entered the arena as one group, not as contingents, as they did at the opening ceremonies.
Quadruple-gold medalists Troy Henry and Janelle Greer carried the Yukon Flag, and more than 2,000 athletes filled the arena floor to mark the end of what is for many a cherished life-changing experience.
“What started as Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories has grown to include nearly the entire circumpolar world,” said Alaska lieutenant governor Loren Leman.
“It’s an event unrivalled in bringing together these regions through competition and cultural exchange.”
Team Alaska was awarded the Hodgson trophy. Voted on by officials, coaches and media at the games, the trophy (a narwhal tusk) goes to the team best representing the ideals of the games, and of life in the North — co-operation and sharing.
Team Yukon finished fourth in the medal count, while Alaska dominated most events and Northern Alberta finished a strong second. NWT finished in third place.
“It wasn’t our best games, but we had a young team overall,” said Yukon chef de mission Trevor Twardochleb. “The athletes and coaches had an incredibly great time. The people of Kenai treated us with such open arms and open hearts.”
Host society president Dale Bagley estimated that 2,800 volunteers were needed to pull off the event.
“Hats off to the people of Kenai, they really did a wonderful job,” said Twardochleb.
The next Arctic Winter Games, in 2008, will be held in Yellowknife.