Chugiak-Eagle River well represented in Whitehorse
15 locals help AWG team dominate ulu count
The 2012 Arctic Winter Games closed with 15 local athletes bringing home ulus. The games, which this year featured nine teams from northern regions participating in a variety of athletic and cultural events, were held this year in Whitehorse, Yukon.
On the turf, all rivalry was set aside as Sue Fleurant of Chugiak High and Jackie Klecka, of Eagle River, teamed up to bring home indoor soccer bronze.
“We can be teammates one week and opponents the next, its really not weird at all,” Fleurant said.
Chugiak high senior Mollie Mathis helped her side to a convincing championship run in girls volleyball.
In Dene Games, Chugiak’s Brian Walker II brought home a silver and gold in hand games and pole push, respectively. Walker’s Dene Games teammate, Adrianna Johnston, claimed bronze in the pole push.
Out on the ice it was coach Peter Haeussler’s speed skaters with a good showing, as brothers Adam and Matthew Blackley helped the 2000-meter relay team to bronze ulu. Older brother Adam also won two individual awards, claiming bronze in the 500-meter skate, and silver in the 666-meter skate.
In figure skating, Xinghau Turner took home bronze ulus in both the free program and combined routines.
In Nordic skiing, Hannah Stevens of Eagle River won a silver in the 5-kilometer freestyle and was part of the second-place 3X5-kilometer relay team. Also in Nordic skiing, Mirror Lake eighth grader Roan Hall earned gold as a member of the 3X2.5-kilometer relay team.
Alpine skier Jami Stone, of Chugiak, won a gold ulu in dual slalom and a silver in individual slalom.
Locals Victoria Parsons and Grace Gilliland teamed up to win bronze in the 3X3-kilometer biathlon relay. As an individual, Gilliland also won silver in the 5K individual and bronze in the 5K mass start event.
Gilliland’s older sister, Mariya, was the areas most decorated competitor of the games, bringing in three individual ulus to go with a team award. The elder Gilliland won the 2-kilometer snowshoe biathlon sprint, took second in the 2.5-kilometer snowshoe biathlon mass start, won bronze in the 3-kilometer individual snowshoe biathlon and was on the silver-winning 3X2-kilometer relay team.
Local mushers were also out in show, with Chugiak’s Alea Robinson winning bronze in both the 6-dog 10K and the 7-dog 13K events.
Robinson capped her Games with a gold-ulu run in the 4-dog, 7K race.
“I was hungry for a gold after placing third twice,” Robinson said of the race, in which fellow Chugiak musher Hali Young claimed bronze.
The local competitors helped Team Alaska to a first place finish in the overall ulu count with 190 total ulus to easily outpace second-place Yukon (122).
The Arctic Winter games are held every two years to celebrate sports and culture among circumpolar regions. Participant Mollie Matthis said the international competition turned out to be the trip of a lifetime.
“The games are a great way to make some fun, lifelong memories,” Matthis said. “I recommend every young athlete to submit to the games in 2014.”
The 2014 Arctic Winter Games will be held in Fairbanks.