MLAs fight to keep ice sports at Arctic Winter Games
“Traditional winter games that can only take place on ice or snow”
Two Nunavut MLAs are fighting to keep the dreams of many northern athletes alive.
The 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk will not feature six events because of a lack of sporting infrastructure in Greenland’s capital city — something that’s unacceptable to Hudson Bay MLA Allan Rumbolt.
“The decision taken by the Arctic Winter Games international committee is another blow to the hopes and dreams of the aspiring young athletes,” Rumbolt said at the Nunavut legislature Oct. 24.
“I find it very ironic that five of the sports not featured in Greenland 2106 winter games are traditional winter games that can only take place on ice or snow, features that are only too common in the Arctic”
The international committee is made up of 12 representative from Alberta, Alaska, Greenland, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
The committee announced the decision to exclude dog mushing, gymnastics, short-track speed skating, figure skating, midget hockey and curling at a meeting Sept. 14.
However, one of two positions on that committee set aside for Nunavut have been unfilled for an “unknown period of time” according to community and government services minister, Lorne Kusugak, who’s responsible for sports and recreation.
That’s a community-at-large member, and Kusugak said he’s submitting two names to represent Nunavut to the international committee as soon as possible.
Recently, Kusugak met with government officials from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska along with the Arctic Winter Games international committee in Fairbanks, Alaska, to discuss possible solutions.
“We’re not trying to step over Greenland. We know they have the issue of facilities. But you can’t hold a hockey tournament if you don’t have an arena,” Kusugak said.
Solutions suggested at the meeting included: having a satellite community hold some events, building temporary structures in Nuuk to host more events, or co-hosting the games with another community.
But “[Greenland] co-hosted with Nunavut in 2002 and there were issues with that. And after that it was determined that there would be no more co-hosting,” Kusugak said.
Some hockey events have already been contracted out to Iqaluit to host those events, however.
Kusugak said games officials will discuss a possible solution in about six months when all the parties meet again.
“I’m sure we will come up with some resolution, but I just can’t take out my crystal ball at the moment,” Kusugak said.
One scenario Kusugak pitched at the meeting in Fairbanks is to create an Arctic summer games.
“The games have gotten so big, and not every community can host 2,000 athletes,” Kusugak said.
“Why don’t we take a look at getting rid of volleyball, basketball, maybe gymnastics, [for the AWG], then include track and field, fastball and slow pitch [baseball], kayaking, canoeing, and others, and have a summer sports games?”
“That could be a real problem solver because it could decrease the load on the Arctic Winter Games host,” Kusugak said.