AWG 2016

Stormy weather in Nuuk delays athletes' arrival at Arctic Winter Games

Snow and high winds have caused delays for athletes trying to make it to Nuuk, Greenland, for the Arctic Winter Games.

More than 600 competitors and staff stuck in Kangerlussuaq waiting for blizzard to pass

Greenland's capital, Nuuk, was walloped by a blizzard Friday and Saturday, causing delays for hundreds of athletes trying to make it in for the Arctic Winter Games. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Snow and high winds have caused delays for athletes trying to make it to Nuuk, Greenland, for the Arctic Winter Games.

Organizers said flights between Kangerlussuaq and Nuuk are postponed and the games' opening ceremonies have been pushed back to 8 p.m. local time Sunday.

"We cannot control the weather, and we have known all along that it could potentially affect our plans, so we are not disconcerted by the current situation," said Maliina Abelsen, the games' general manager, in a news release.

"Right now we are following our plan B, and it is a pleasure to see everyone working together in order to implement the back-up plan."

In another release Saturday, Abelsen said organizers are now moving to "plan C," with flights to Nuuk beginning around 10 p.m. local time Saturday night. A total of 31 flights, running all through the night, will be needed to ferry all of the athletes to Nuuk for opening ceremonies.

Meanwhile, hockey players, who are competing in Iqaluit because Nuuk lacks ice rinks, will now not travel to Nuuk for the opening ceremonies.

Arctic Winter Games volunteers put out a spread of seafood for athletes in Kangerlussuaq Saturday. (Elyn Jones/CBC)
International athletes must travel via Kangerlussuaq because Nuuk's airport is too small to handle jets. Passengers change to smaller planes in Kangerlussuaq for the 55-minute flight to the capital.

Trevor Twardochleb, Yukon's chef du mission, said the territory's athletes would likely not depart for Nuuk until late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

All three flights from Yukon have made it to Kangerlussuaq. Athletes, coaches, mission staff, and the cultural contingent are hanging out at a school, playing pool, table tennis and foosball to pass the time. Others are sleeping on cots and bed rolls and still others are walking around the community.

"I've been trying to sleep but it's not really happening," said volleyball player Alice Frost.

Local volunteers put out a spread of shrimp, seal, dried fish and crab. Snowboarder Rachel MacIntosh tried the seal, but wasn't a fan. "It tastes oily," she said.

Alaska's KTVA reported that more than 600 athletes, including Team Alaska, are stuck in Kangerlussuaq. 

Current weather forecasts predict the stormy conditions in Nuuk will continue through Sunday morning.

With files from Elyn Jones in Kangerlussuaq and Cheryl Kawaja in Nuuk


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