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  • Andrea Hackbarth

High Kicks and Kneel Jumps at the Arctic Sports

The atmosphere in the Colony Middle School gym on Thursday intensified as the U17 Male One Foot High Kick event progressed towards the final few competitors. In this event, each competitor gets three chances to kick a small ball, dangling from a string held by a metal frame. The athletes must kick this ball with one foot, then land on that same foot. In the final rounds, this ball was suspended well above the athletes’ heads. It’s a sport that takes incredible skill, including strength, flexibility, and coordination.

The audience that packed the gym’s bleachers was respectfully silent as each competitor prepared for his kick. But some athletes preferred noise and signaled the audience to clap in unison. A steady drum beat of claps and foot stomps grew louder and faster as the athlete prepared for his attempt. Whether silent or loud, the air was thick with the audience’s anticipation as well as the competitors’ concentration. Then, release and an athlete’s foot hit the ball! Unsuccessful attempts drew disappointment but also encouraging words and applause.

Finally only two competitors remained. They would attempt the highest kicks yet, at 106”: Lars Jeremiassen of Team Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) and Leif Richards of Team Alaska. Unfortunately, neither was able to make contact with the ball. Both had successfully kicked the ball at 104”. Because he’d had fewer misses at lower heights, Jeremiassen took first in the event. Richards came in second, and Carlos Magsucang of Team Yukon took third, with his highest kick at 102”.

Next was the Open Female Alaskan High Kick. While the set up was similar to the One Foot High Kick, the Alaskan High Kick is a much different type of sport. Competitors sit on the ground, holding one foot in their opposite hand. They then balance on the other hand and kick the other foot up towards the ball. They must land on their kicking foot, without any other part of their body (aside from the hand they’re balanced on) touching the floor. Again, it’s an impressive event that necessitates strength, flexibility, and great coordination.

The women concentrated intensely as they prepared for their kick, demonstrating that the sport took as much mental skill as physical prowess. The final round had the ball at 5’8” and three contestants were still competing. Danica Taylor of Nunavut kicked the ball at that height, taking first place, Ali Johnston of Alaska came in second, and Kate Koepke of Yukon was third.

Meanwhile, records were being set at the Open Men’s Kneel Jump. In this event, competitors have to start in a kneeling position and jump as far forward as possible, launching from the tops of their shins and feet, and landing in a standing position. Colton Paul of Alaska set a new record with a jump of 65 ½”, Joseph Nowkawalk of Nunavik followed with a jump of 62 ½”, and Alaska’s Kyle Worl took third place with a 58 ¾” jump.

Make sure to check out the results of all events online and make time to see some of these events in person if you have a chance!


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