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Kenai Peninsula 2006 AWG Update


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Here's a little update on the next Arctic Winter Games I got from my post recent visit around the host towns.

- The new theme song "Release The Spirit Within", which is also the games motto, was released by popular Peninsula musician Hobo Jim.

- The more unofficial AWG version of "the look of the games" has been employed more. It mostly consists of dark blue/purple/green coloured mountain ranges with a brighter line that sets it off from the white/negative sky above it. The mountains represent the Kenai Mountain Range of the much less inhabited eastern part of the peninsula and also the stunning mountainous western view across the Cook Inlet of where the immense Alaska Range melds into the start of the Aleutians Range that begins the southwestern panhandle and islands south of Russia.

- So far the teams look like they will be the same as the Wood Buffalo 2004 games without change, but it's interesting how the procedures consist of lumping the two distinctly separate Russian teams together with one flag etc. Yamal Nenetsia and Magadan together makes about as much sense as putting the Yukon Territory and Prince Edward Island together.

- I saw the new ice facility in Homer that will be used for the town's only hosted event, curling. For Alaska it's a really nice facility and I bet the curling will be a million times better than this year's Women's Worlds in Scotland. It's located on the Homer Spit, a 2 mile long thin strip of land jutting out into the Kachemak Bay which is an extentsion of the inlet between Homer, the most southerly tip of the sub-alpine peninsula and where the Kenai Range curves from going south to directly east before ending with a series of islands. The view from "the spit" of the immense lush Homer hillside and of the vast Kenai Mountains is absolutely spectacular and when I return I will take some photographs.

- The Tsalteshi Trail System in the town of Soldotna has been getting some major updates quite speedily in order to be prepared for skiing and snowshoeing events. This includes a 5 km expansion.

- The teams are still Alaska, Alberta (Northern Alberta), Greenland, Magadan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec (Northern Quebec/Nunavik), Saami Scandinavia, Yamal Nenetsia, and Yukon Territory. It is rumoured that another Russian state or oblast and Iceland will be participating within the next few AWG cycles.

Kenai Peninsula 2006 www.awg2006.org has more information as well as a link to listen to the theme song. BTW, the theme song has the lyrics "stronger, faster, higher" in it or something. I forget if it was in the same order as the Olympic motto. :o

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Coming right after the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. Of course, how many of us really know about the Arctic Winter Games here?
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Here in Oz I have only heard of the AWG in passing as a kind of joke event - but I saw some online from the Greenland event and also Whitehorse...  I totally didnt know there was one in 2004 though!!

Not much publicity - but then again if you look at who competes, it is definately a lower tier event.  

Is there an Arctic Summer Games too?  And why doesnt Iceland join in??

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Here in Oz I have only heard of the AWG in passing as a kind of joke event - but I saw some online from the Greenland event and also Whitehorse...  I totally didnt know there was one in 2004 though!!

Not much publicity - but then again if you look at who competes, it is definately a lower tier event.  

Is there an Arctic Summer Games too?  And why doesnt Iceland join in??

The AWGs include "summer" events as well, like basketball, volleyball, and badminton of all things, so there is no "Arctic Summer Games". It's just called winter because it's held during winter from around late January to March. They are held every two years despite some attempts to go to every four in order to cut costs and divert some of those into making host packages bigger. Even in the peninsula which is comparatively a larger and more connected host than say to Nuuk, Greenland or Iqaluit, Nunavut, many accomodations consist of nothing more than classrooms and normally seasonal B&Bs.

It was started in the 70's by athletic organizations in the then 2 Canadian territories because they were continually being walloped at the Canada Games by much better funded provincial teams without having a real chance to be competitive. The AWG were first held in Yellowknife, NWT in 1970 and were participated in by NWT, Yukon, and Alaska.

I haven't heard much news about the Icelandic opinion of the games, but I do know the organization doesn't communicate very well, which is understandable as it is a smaller event. A lot of places don't want to fund for the event especially if the communities are much more active in upper-level sports, like Norway and Sweden. So far nobody in Iceland has stepped up to organize a team and there are no sponsors for one, but a few are interested.

Also interesting, the AWG were started strictly for communities north of the 60th parallel but it was decided in the 80's that the northern regions of the four territory-bordering provinces would be invited to compete. (The border itself is the 60th line.) Alberta was and has been ever since the only province to send a team. BC agreed but funding was later lost and has been a dead subject since, and due to lack of interest of organizing neither Saskatchewan or Manitoba have even begun the subject. The only other places in the world with regions within the north of the 60th parallel are the Faroe Islands, Estonia, and Scotland/UK. But since the games are already kind of a burden to put on and have a massive amount of medalling events compared to the number of participants, it's unlikely participation will grow too soon too fast.

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