The Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle held its seventh annual Arctic Sports Inter-school Competition over three days from Nov. 28 to 30 at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse.
This year’s event included more than 350 athletes from across the territory and beyond. Athletes from Whitehorse were joined by those from Carcross, Teslin and Watson Lake in the Yukon as well as a contingent from Juneau, Alaska.
Sara Walz, sport coordinator for YASC, said this year’s competition was the biggest yet.
“The events went awesome,” said Walz. “I believe last year we had 150 kids in the three days and this year we had just over 350, so numbers were great. We had awesome volunteers and overall we got a lot of good feedback.”
The growth is something Walz attributes to both expanding the number of students each school can bring as well as the push to promote arctic sports in the territory.
“We upped the numbers a little bit and we’re regularly visiting schools in Whitehorse and the communities,” said Walz, mentioning the Rural Experiential Model in particular. “There are lots of different things where we’re constantly promoting arctic sports and bringing it to the schools.”
The competition was split into three days, with students from kindergarten to Grade Four competing on day one, Grade Five to Grade Seven on day two and Grade Eight to Grade 12 on day three.
Each group took part in a slightly different combination of events.
On day one, athletes competed in kneel jump, Inuit stick pull, triple jump, two-foot high kick and seal crawl. Day two included kneel jump, scissor broad jump, bench reach, one-foot high kick, seal hop and Inuit wrestling. Day three’s lineup included kneel jump, Inuit stick pull, Alaskan high kick, one-foot high kick, wrist carry, scissor broad jump and Inuit wrestling.
Walz said the feedback she’s heard so far is positive.
“So far, I think it’s a hit,” said Walz. “All the kids that come seem to enjoy it. A lot of them are the kids that come out and then join our Arctic Winter Games teams or attend different events with us outside of the Yukon, so it’s definitely popular with the kids.”
Focus within the arctic sports community now shifts to the Traditional Games in Juneau, Alaska, March 16 and 17, and the Native Youth Olympics in Anchorage, Alaska, at the end of April.
“Ideally we will pull kids from the inter-school competition based on their results and have an open tryout and then hopefully take some kids to Juneau,” said Walz. “We will take these kids to Juneau and then they’ll carry on to the Native Youth Olympics.”
The 2020 Arctic Winter Games are also not far off, and being held in Whitehorse.
Asked what stood out about this year’s event, Walz had a simple answer.
“I think sheerly the numbers,” said Walz. “On our first day, we had more numbers than we did across all three days last year. … It was a bit of a scramble at the start, but it was a good learning curve and, I mean, it’s exactly what we want. We want the event to keep growing.”
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