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Alberta contingent earns fourth in Arctic Games

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By Sam Laskaris Sweetgrass Writer WHITEHORSE







Skye Quintal-Janvier once again had an instrumental role with some medal-winning performances at the Arctic Winter Games.

Quintal-Janvier was the head coach for Northern Alberta’s Dene Games participants at the competition, which was staged Mar. 4-10 in Whitehorse.

The AWG, held every two years, attracted about 2,000 athletes competing in 20 activities.

Quintal-Janvier was a competitor herself at the previous three AWG, each time winning a gold medal in the finger pull event, a Dene Games activity in which participants use their hands to grasp on and try to straighten their rival’s finger or make them concede.

As in previous runnings, this year’s AWG featured competitors representing nine regions of the circumpolar north. Joining Northern Alberta were  Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec),  Alaska, Greenland and clubs called Yamal (representatives from Russia) and Sapmi, a contingent of athletes from Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Though statistics were not kept, many of the AWG competitors were Aboriginal. Northern Alberta’s Aboriginal athletes were mostly in the Dene Games and Arctic Sports events.

Quintal-Janvier coached four teams to bronze medals.

The pole push earned bronze medals for the juvenile girls (12-15) and the junior girls and boys (16-19). The juvenile girls also won bronze in hand games activities.
Quintal-Janvier was pleased with the four medals, but entering the AWG, she thought some of her  teams would register even more impressive results.

“I thought they were going to do a bit better based on their training,” she said. “But they tried their best. And there was a lot of strong boys and girls there.”

The pole push competition features two teams, with four members each. They hold onto a large wooden pole and try to push their rivals outside of a designated ring area.
The pole push is often compared to a tug of war, but Quintal-Janvier believes it is much more difficult to perform.

“I think it’s a lot harder (because) you’re pushing instead of pulling. And you’re on snow so people are sliding and falling all over the place,” she said.

Also, all team members must keep their hands on the pole at all times or risk disqualification.

Quintal-Janvier said the length of matches varies, depending on the teams taking part. A game could end in a matter of seconds. Or it might drag on.

“It can go on for anywhere between two to five minutes,” she said. “It all depends.”

As for the hand games, four-person teams are once again matched up against one another. But this is basically a guessing game as competitors take turns hiding objects in their hands. The point of the game is to make the opposition guess incorrectly as to where the objects are hidden.

The Northern Alberta team, which consisted of just over 230 participants, ended up winning a total of 104 medals, placing fourth in the over-all team standings.
Alaska topped the medal standings with 190. Yukon finished second with 122 medals while the NWT captured 116 medals.

“I’m honestly really pleased with everybody that took part for us,” said Quintal-Janvier.

Northern Alberta had placed second at the 2010 AWG. As those Games were in Grande Prairie, the host team was allowed to enter a bigger contingent and Alberta had 300 competitors.