AWG 2016

Athletes arrive for Arctic Winter Games opening ceremonies

In a celebration filled with traditional and modern Greenlandic song and dance, athletes paraded into the capital city's sports hall Sunday with enthusiasm and cheer.

'It was a long time getting here but it's totally worth it now'

Dancers perform at the opening ceremonies of the Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland. More than 1,600 athletes from nine Arctic regions will compete over the next five days. (Vagn Hansen/AWG 2016)

The weather has cleared in Nuuk, Greenland, and after long delays en route, most of the athletes from nine northern regions arrived in time for the opening ceremonies of the Arctic Winter Games. 

In a celebration filled with traditional and modern Greenlandic song and dance, athletes paraded into the capital city's sports hall with enthusiasm and cheer. 

Nyree Hacala of Yellowknife, a volleyball player with Team N.W.T., says she is looking forward to a level playing field. (CBC)
"It was a long time getting here but it's totally worth it now," said Josh Tobias of Whitehorse, who'll play basketball with Team Yukon.

"It's beautiful here and it's a once in a lifetime experience."

"And we're all the way in Greenland," said Donovan Niptantiak, a table tennis player from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

Like many other participants, this is his first trip outside of Canada.  He looks forward to the week ahead "new friends and a lot of playing."

Most of the athletes were able to make the opening. Some were delayed because of a backup in the flight schedule for planes landing at the city's tiny airport. Still, officials say everyone should have landed by the time the first official day of competition begins Monday.

Some are looking forward to competing on an equal footing. 

"The Arctic countries don't really have a chance when you go down south for tournaments," said Nyree Hacala of Yellowknife, who'll play volleyball for Team N.W.T.

Hacala says other areas "have a larger pick of athletes, so it's just a good way to get everybody playing." 

Over five days more than 1,600 athletes will compete in 17 sports.

Since there are no arenas in Nuuk, Iqaluit will host hockey. 

Almost everyone got to Nuuk in time for the Games' opening, despite weather delays. (Andre Guttesen/AWG2016)
The flame will burn in Nuuk all week as the 2016 Arctic Winter Games play out in Greenland. (Ryan Mahle/CBC)

About the Author

Cheryl Kawaja

Cheryl Kawaja is a CBC North reporter based in Whitehorse.

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