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  • Sam Ouellette

2000 Athletes Landed in Anchorage on Saturday and The Snack Table at the Airport Did Not Dissapoint

On a blue-bird clear day with temperatures that didn’t rise above 10F(-12.22C) Ted Stevens International Airport‘s North Terminal was humming with energy on Saturday. Throughout the day athletes from across the circumpolar north arrived for the 2024 Arctic Winter Games held this year for the first time in the Mat-Su Valley, Alaska.

As jet-lagged athletes came off the escalators, they were greeted by a swarm of cheering volunteers, security personnel, and even Fur Rendezvous Royalty from the Iditarod Sled Dog Race that’s taking place through Alaska’s interior as the games began.

The arrivals terminal bustled with a diverse blend of faces, voices, and the shared enthusiasm for the upcoming games. Volunteers dressed in vibrant 2024 Arctic Winter Games gear scurried about, coordinating and warmly welcoming the athletes. As I walked through the crowd of athletes, coaches, parents, volunteers, and security the sounds of excitement, hunger, and anticipation of what was to come next hung over the terminal like an electric hum.

Hungry athletes made a beeline for the well-stocked snack tables eyeing rows of tasty sandwiches, chips, juices, and popcorn, while coaches tirelessly tried to wrangle their athletes onto the next bus for the hour-long trip to their winter games home base. While most athletes were elbow-deep in delicious snacks, others were busy texting and calling home to tell family they’d indeed landed safe and sound.

I got a chance to chat briefly with a few athletes from the Nunavut Volleyball Team who shared their excitement about the upcoming games, but all expressed that they were tired from the long trip and agreed they would be much more enthusiastic once they got to their athlete village. Justin Denis Douglas Hooey, a speed skater from the Nunavut Team, is excited and eager to see Alaska. Hooey shared “I am very excited, I almost missed the cutoff age-wise but I’m excited to be in Alaska.”

As the convoy of buses stood ready to transport the contingents to their respective accommodations an hour away, the athletes boarded, the excitement reached a crescendo, echoing the promise of an unforgettable competition for the first time held in the Mat-Su Valley.


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