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Arctic Winter Games officials hail Fairbanks plans

Posted: October 22, 2013 - 12:09am

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Visiting Arctic Winter Games officials converged on Fairbanks recently, saying they like what they’ve seen so far in preparations for the 2014 games that will take place in the city and nearby North Pole.

Officials gathered with members of the Fairbanks Host Society and the Arctic Winter Games International Committee, as well as volunteers and others at Pioneer Park, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Team Greenland’s delegation leader, Doug Rentmeister, said he is impressed with what he’s seen from the host society’s efforts in preparing for next year’s games. The biennial circumpolar athletic and cultural event will take place in March.

“They’ve progressed nicely, with the announcement tonight of how much they’ve raised and how many volunteers,” he said. “There are well ahead of the game.”

The host society has raised $1 million from private donations toward the games. The society’s budget goal is $1.2 million.

The society also is looking for 2,500 volunteers. Cherie Solie, a host society official, recently said that 1,500 people have expressed interest in volunteering, but only 900 had officially signed up online to volunteer.

The winter games are expected to consist of 2,500 athletes competing in 20 sports. The athletes will represent nine circumpolar delegations. They will come from Alaska, Greenland, Russia, Sweden and five Canadian territories.

Bart LeBon, treasurer for the host society’s board of directors, said at one time, he and others looked at the large amount of money to raise and the number of volunteers needed, and wondered if it could happen.

“We had about two years to do it and it was a hold-on-tight moment, but here we are,” he said.

The goal of the three-day meeting that began Thursday is to complete plans for the games and to tour sporting and cultural venues.

“Excellent venues,” said Gerry Thick, president of the Arctic Winter Games.

The host society’s million-dollar goal was augmented Thursday night by a $50,000 donation from Pogo Mine, presented to LeBon by mine spokeswoman Lorna Shaw.

“They’re so far ahead from where anticipated they’d be, and we’re really excited to send our team here,” Rentmeister said.

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