Today wraps up the Arctic Winter Games, a weeklong series of competitions for circumpolar youth that is held every other year. This year Fairbanks was the host city, and it's been so neat seeing members of the different teams walking around town in their bright coats. Nine teams have been competing: Alaska, Alberta North, Greenland, Northwest Territories, Nunavik Quebec, Nunavut, Sapmi, Yamal, and Yukon Territory. There are Native events, like high kick and snow snake; winter sports like dog mushing and speed skating; and indoor sports like basketball, wrestling, and table tennis. What do those have to do with "winter games"? When it is cold, dark and snowy outside for half the year, indoor sports become very popular!
After Mass last Sunday, we met a reporter from Inuvik, Northwest Territories, who had come over to cover their team. Later in the week, Little Bear and I had fun watching some of the snowboarding. I'd hoped to take him out to see some dog mushing or curling, but the timing never worked with his naps.
Fortunately, there is more dog mushing to take in: the 67th Open North American Sled Dog Championship, recognized as one of the most intense sprint races in the world, is run in three heats this weekend: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. "Open" means that mushers can run as many (or few) dogs as they wish; in past years, I can remember seeing some 22-dog teams, and some with fewer than 10! Given his love of (obsession with?) dogs, I think we'd definitely better take Little Bear to watch at least one of the days.
To go along with the Open North American, downtown Fairbanks is also hosting the annual sled dog weight pull competition, Alaska Trappers Association fur auction, and Parka Parade this weekend. If you aren't in town but want to experience the race for yourself, check out the live streaming on the Alaska Dog Mushers Association website!
And before March ends, we have to make it to the World Ice Art Championship! We still haven't found time to go play with Little Bear in the mazes and slides of the kids ice park, and admire the works of art-in-ice that carvers from all over to world have created this year. It's particularly beautiful at night, when they have all of the sculptures illuminated with colored lights. Unfortunately, it isn't getting dark these days until well after Little Bear's bedtime!
I think we have enough to do to keep us busy...