The Arctic X Games have been X’ed out.
The multi-sport event, which was to be hosted by Whitehorse next March, has been scrubbed following the “withdrawal of two of the five participating jurisdictions,” the Yukon government said in a news release on Friday.
However, “withdrawal” might not be the best word to describe it.
“Actually, Team Alaska was never able to commit to participating in the Arctic X Games,” said Kathleen Rehm, assistant chef de mission for Team Alaska. “We never said we could participate.
“It’s because of funding. Team Alaska operates differently from the Canadian contingents; we’re not funded by the government. We receive a grant, we just don’t have the same level of funding, unfortunately.
“We wish we all of our athletes could have participated because the more opportunity the better … But it was never something we could commit to in the first place.”
It’s a similar story for Team Alberta North, the other jurisdiction that has decided to not participate.
“We were never coming for sure in the first place,” said Jerry George, chef de mission for Alberta North. “It’s a new event that’s not part of our program, so we were waiting for our government budget to be released. If you’re familiar with the provincial budget in Alberta, there were reductions to our organization, so we didn’t have funding.”
The Arctic X Games would have featured six sports dropped from the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland, with the aim of providing athletes from those sports a chance to compete in a major Games competition.
Without Alaska and Northern Alberta only Yukon, N.W.T. and Nunavut would have been left to compete.
Community Services Minister Currie Dixon said the event’s cancellation is disappointing, “but we are committed to helping the affected athletes participate in other competitions by providing them with funding support.”
The Yukon government committed $100,000 to the X Games in March. With the cancellation, that money will now be re-directed to the affected sports groups to be used to attend Outside competitions or host ones in the future.
“It’s disappointing, but on the other hand the government of Yukon has made alternative plans for our sports to be able to continue their sports development by allowing them some funding to continue with something for missing the Arctic Winter Games, so that’s great,” said Sport Yukon president George Arcand. “That’s achieving what we wanted, but in a different way.”
It was announced in September 2012 that due to a lack of facilities in Nuuk, the 2016 Arctic Games would not include speedskating, figure skating, curling, gymnastics, dog mushing and midget-level hockey.
Nuuk has no ice rink for hockey, figure skating and speed skating, and no gymnastics facility or curling sheets. Greenland also has regulations prohibiting the introduction of foreign dogs into the country.
Bantam and female hockey will be hosted by Iqaluit, Nunavut, as a satellite venue, in the 2016 Arctics.
The Arctic X Games would have included those five absent sports as well as peewee- and midget-level hockey.
Both Alaska and Alberta North still plan to send teams to the Arctic Games in Greenland next year.
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