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  • Sean Reilly

Rising Strong with Arctic Culture

In Arctic cultures people lift each other up to achieve excellence. The culture supports each other to be the best that they can be. There is a culture of unity. Ultimately, it is not the winning where the true joy is to be found, but in the camaraderie.

The Arctic Winter Games exemplify this northern people’s culture day in and day out. It is evidenced daily by the athletes, the coaches, the officials, the families, the friends and interactions between competitors. 

On the edges of the courts, athletes who are at the top of their game cheer for and advise both teammates and opponents.

Team Alaska Coltan Paul competed in the Two Foot High Kick. Coltan was just shy of his target. He went back to the sidelines and his competitor, Team Alaska Parker Kenick gave him some advice and new perspective on his technique. On the next run-up, Coltan jumps off and hits the target landing squarely on both feet. 

Next up was Parker Kenick. He motioned to the crowd to help lead him into the jump. The stomping of the bleachers, the quickening clapping of hundreds of hands, and the Clarion call of the bearded seal prompted Kenick's feet to start to move. He leaped toward the sky, feet outstretched and made contact.  

The aluminum pole went up two more inches. The kick was now eight feet six inches. Coltan Paul hit the target and stuck the landing. Parker was not as fortunate. So, this time it was Coltan Paul who from the sidelines encouraged his competition. Even if it meant that Parker might blast past him, Coltan was not really competing against Parker, but rather they were both rising together. 

Kenick gave it all he had and still fell just shy of his mark. 

In the end it was Coltan Paul who took the gold ulu home. 

It was after the event was over that the culture of rising together shined  Parker continued to try and make the six foot eight inch kick. The announcer gave advice. And Parker tried again and missed.  Then an experienced two foot high kicker athlete was called out of the crowd. He coached Parker now. Never giving up and surrounded by support, Parker succeeded in making contact at eight feet six inches. Unofficially in one sense. Officially though, a champion of sportsmanship and resilience. 

It can be emotionally moving to witness this culture of "we," that comes out of the Arctic lands. It is uplifting to witness this attitude of inclusiveness and support.

Mat-Su Arctic Winter Games Rising Strong Together 


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