Ministers dispute missing sports at Arctic Winter Games

Ministers dispute missing sports at Arctic Winter Games
The top winners from the juvenile male 2.5 km mass start snowshoe biathlon race are honoured in the 2012 Arctic Winter Games. The 2016 games have shaved off a number of events, impacting the number of competitors.

Northern sport ministers are raising concerns to the Arctic Winter Games International Committee over the elimination of six key sporting events for the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland.

Dog mushing, curling, gymnastics, speed skating, midget hockey and figure skating have traditionally been a part of the games’ lineup, but will not be held in 2016 due to the lack of facilities in Greenland.

A special delegation of the GNWT’s Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert McLeod, Government of Yukon Community Services Minister Elaine Taylor and other key representatives from Nunavut, Alaska, northern Alberta and Greenland met with the committee in Vancouver on Sunday to review the options for including all sports.

“We would like to see some sort of resolution as to how we can get these affected sports running and give our athletes an opportunity to compete,” McLeod told The Journal last Thursday. “I had a meeting with some of the affected territorial sport organizations and they were quite concerned…They’re just afraid they will lose the whole cycle of development for a lot of our young athletes.”

According to McLeod, the eliminations will see as many as 400 athletes sliced from participating in the games.

“That is a huge blow, so it is an issue. These events are core sports. In speed skating, we’re starting to see a lot of good athletes up and coming. We want to see them continue to develop so they can compete at the national level,” McLeod said. “It’s been proven our folks can compete with the right opportunities.”

Minister Robert McLeod was in Vancouver recently to discuss the eliminated sports for the 2016 games. (Photo courtesy of GNWT)

Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert McLeod was in Vancouver recently to discuss the eliminated sports. (Photo courtesy of GNWT)

It isn’t the first time the games have had to eliminate events. There was no alpine skiing in Yellowknife in 2008 because there is no ski hill.

In 2002 when the games were held in Greenland, some events requiring an arena were co-hosted with Nunavut and athletes were flown back and forth.

That is an option the delegation is bringing up again to the committee, McLeod said.

The next Arctic Winter Games are to be held in Fairbanks, Alaska in 2014 and will include all sports.

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