Nunavut wins 67 medals; Nunavik takes 24
Nunavut scores best sportsmanship award at AWG
After winning dozens of ulu-shaped medals, athletes from Nunavut and Nunavik are back from the 2008 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife.
The week-long event, which wrapped March 15, featured 1,800 young participants from Nunavut, Nunavik, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, northern Alberta and other nations with Arctic regions such as the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Greenland.
At last Saturday night's closing ceremonies, the Mt. Edgecumbe Yup'ik Dance Group from Alaska led the way into the Yellowknife Multiplex arena, with the nine delegations following in a single, huge circumpolar team.
The 350 athletes from Alaska dominated the games' 19 sports competitions with 202 ulu medals, including 74 gold, 55 silver and 73 bronze. The Northwest Territories ranked second overall in the games, with 111 ulus, followed by Yamal with 92, Alberta North with 90, Yukon with 81, Nunavut with 67, Greenland with 44, Nunavik with 24 and the Saami with 16.
Nunavut won the 2008 Hodgson Trophy, awarded to the AWG team voted as having "best exemplified fair play and team spirit" at the games. Nunavut also won the Hodgson Trophy in 2000 and 2004.
Of Nunavut's 67 ulu medals, 15 were gold, 27 were silver and 25 were bronze.
Iqaluit speed-skater Sarah Ali as well as Inuit games athletes Sean Nipisar of Whale Cove and Susie Pearce of Iqaluit were among Nunavut's multiple medal-winners.
Of Nunavik's 24 ulu medals, nine were gold, seven were silver and eight were bronze.
In the open male one-foot high kick, Alec Airo of Kuujjuaq kicked the sealskin target set at nine feet, winning the gold ulu for his performance. Aisa Pirti of Akulivik won the bronze ulu in the same event, while, in the junior female class, Deseray Cumberbatch of Inukjuak also won a bronze ulu.
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper helped open this year's AWG, he called the athletes "the brightest stars in the northern sky."
The games were first held in 1970 in Yellowknife, where 500 athletes competed. The next AWG will be held in Grand Prairie, Alta., in 2010.