Following regionals, Team Nunavik 2014 will start forming
"We’ve really revamped the whole selection process"
KUUJJUAQ — They showed up and they competed. Now Nunavik’s young athletes must wait to see if they’ll be selected to represent the region at the 2014 Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska.
More than a hundred athletes from age 11 right up to their 30s gathered in Kuujjuaq Nov. 22 to Nov. 24 as part of the games regional trials — the largest number to date.
“That’s all thanks to efforts at the community level,” said Nancianne Grey, head of the Kativik Regional Government’s recreation department and chef de mission for Team Nunavik-Québec.
Grey’s department now keeps a database of coaches and volunteers from each community so recreational coordinators can stay in better contact than before.
And that means more and more young Nunavimmiut are getting the chance to play sports at home and away at a competitive level, Grey said.
For the 2014 games, Nunavik will participate in six different events including mainstay events like badminton and Arctic sports.
But new this year: Team Nunavik-Québec will include a female cross-country ski team at the midget and juvenile levels, a program that has run out of Kuujjuaq for the last three winters.
Now, Grey and her staff face the hard part — whittling the 2014 Nunavik contingent down to just 64 athletes.
And that’s not as easy as picking the winners from each event held at the regional level, says the KRG’s recreational coordinator, Valerie Rykhoff.
“We’ve really revamped the whole selection process, so we can be more in line with other contingents,” Rykhoff said, noting that Team Nunavik-Québec remains a guest contingent at the games.
Calibre is important, she said, and it’s an area where she has noticed improvement since the last winter games.
“So to select the teams, we look at winners, but we also take coaches and volunteers,” Rykhoff said. “Sometimes it’s a kid who just deserves the opportunity. It’s nice to be able to reward the athletically talented, but also those with the right attitude and desire.”
Following the weekend trials, Grey said she got a phone call from a parent in one of the region’s smaller communities, excited that their son had picked up a medal.
“They just called to say ‘thanks for the opportunity,’” Grey said. “Even if he doesn’t go to Alaska, it was just the opportunity that made a difference in his life.”
“Things like that give you the feeling that you’re really touching families and individual kids,” she added.
The members of Team Nunavik-Québec will be announced some time in January, giving athletes roughly two months to train for the games, which run March 15-22 in Fairbanks.
You can see more results from the November try-outs on the Team Nunavik-Québec Facebook page.