North

That's a wrap: 2018 Arctic Winter Games come to close in N.W.T.

Nearly 2,000 athletes from around the circumpolar world are making their way home from the Northwest Territories after a busy week of competition at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games.

‘You see a lot of happy kids,' says Arctic Winter Games International Committee president

Athletes danced and waved along to performances at the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in Hay River, N.W.T. on Saturday evening. (Mario DeCiccio/CBC)

Nearly 2,000 athletes from around the circumpolar world are making their way home from the Northwest Territories after a busy week of competition at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games.

The Games wrapped up Saturday evening with closing ceremonies in Hay River, which hosted the events jointly with the town of Fort Smith.

Athletes from Alaska, Greenland, northern Alberta, the N.W.T., Nunavut, Yukon, Nunavik, Russia and Scandinavia participated in 19 different sports.

They ranged from traditional Arctic sports such as the arm pull and high kick, to activities like snowshoeing, hockey and figure skating.

"They have been very good," Arctic Winter Games International Committee president Jens Brinch said of this year's Games. "You see a lot of happy kids going around and that's the most important thing for us."

Athletes at the closing ceremonies threw their hands in the air, swaying along to musical performances by Godson and dancing along with the Arctic Winter Games Spirit Squad.

By the end of it all, it was hard to make out who was who. Several athletes had switched team jackets and hats with one another.

During the week, there were demonstrations of sportsmanship and culture, records that were broken, and some young athletes with big goals.

But there were also some challenges.

Brinch said having two small communities hosting the Games together presented logistical difficulties at times (it's about a three-hour drive between Hay River and Fort Smith), although he added there is a positive side.

"If you're not using the smaller towns, we would go to Yellowknife or we would go to Whitehorse every time," said Brinch. "I think this is a good alternative to the bigger cities in the Arctic."

The 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games ran from March 18 to 24.

Whitehorse is scheduled to host the next Arctic Winter Games in 2020.

With files from Mario DeCiccio

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