Stay tuned for games-panel visit

Fog delays Arctic Winter Games International Committee

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2003

Fog on Saturday afternoon prevented the landing of a committee that is evaluating Juneau, Fairbanks and the Kenai Peninsula as sites for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.

But the members of the games' International Committee could arrive at 6:45 a.m. today after staying overnight in Sitka, local bid organizers said.

If that flight arrives, the tour will begin with a welcoming ceremony at 10 a.m. at Juneau Airport, followed by stops at Eaglecrest Ski Area at 11, the Treadwell Arena at noon and Juneau-Douglas High School at 1:40 p.m.

Members of the public who want to turn out and show their support for Juneau's bid can call 586-5330 for updated information on the tour.

"As you know, the plane didn't make it but our spirit is still here," Assembly member Jim Powell, chairman of the Juneau bid committee, told dozens of people who were at the airport Saturday to greet members of the International Committee.

Gerry Williams and Charlie Williams were among the residents waiting.

"We're hoping that they pick Juneau," Gerry Williams said. "And I think Juneau's got a lot to offer. People are pretty enthusiastic, from what I've seen."

Charlie Williams said the games would provide excitement "and inspire a lot of kids to go out and conquer the world, on ice."

The six-member subgroup of the 11-person international committee toured Fairbanks on Thursday and Kenai on Friday.

The subcommittee will give its recommendation, with its reasons, to the full International Committee, which will meet without its two Alaska members to make the decision, probably within six weeks, said committee Vice President Peter Moore from his office in Slave Lake, Alberta, last week.

The sports competition, held every two years, involves about 1,600 young athletes from Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Siberian Russia. It also includes cultural presentations.

Juneau's bid organizers had asked residents to show up at the airport, Eaglecrest Ski Area and the Treadwell Arena in Douglas to wave signs showing support for the games.

The International Committee members will consider the local community's understanding of the games' purpose, its desire to host the games, and its capacity to do so, Moore said.

The itinerary in Juneau will include a visit to Eaglecrest, where local bid organizers will explain the venues for the outdoor sports.

They are alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, cross-country biathlon (skiing and shooting), snowshoeing, snowshoe biathlon and silhouette shooting.

At the Treadwell ice arena, the visitors will be told of plans for hosting hockey, curling, figure skating and short-track speed-skating events. The city plans to build two outdoor ice sheets at Dimond Park in the Mendenhall Valley to supplement the indoor Treadwell Arena.

At Juneau-Douglas High School, visitors will learn of plans to use JDHS, the adjacent Marie Drake building and Harborview Elementary to house the athletes. They would be fed in the high school cafeteria.

The committee members also will hear about plans to hold the indoor sports of basketball, wrestling, table tennis, volleyball, soccer and Native games. Venues would include schools around the community.

In Fairbanks on Thursday the International Committee members were greeted at the ice arena with pyrotechnics and dancing children, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Rick Solie, who is heading up Fairbanks' bid efforts, said the city's advantages are that its facilities are completed, of high quality and are relatively close together, meaning shorter commute times for athletes going to and from events.

On the Kenai Peninsula on Friday, that borough's bid organizers touted its facilities for the athletes.

"Care and comfort for the athletes - that's going to be first and foremost," bid coordinator Jack Brown told the Peninsula Clarion.

The Kenai Peninsula plan calls for events to be split up among practice venues in Girdwood, Homer, Nikiski and Kenai, with Soldotna being the central location.

Juneau organizers have projected the games will cost $4.4 million to hold, of which the city would supply $550,000 in cash and $200,000 in services. The budget anticipates a $1.6 million state contribution.

The 2006 games will mark the fifth time that the games have been held in Alaska since they began in 1970. The games were held in Anchorage in 1974, Fairbanks in 1982 and 1988, and Chugiak/Eagle River in 1996.

Eric Fry can be reached at efry@juneauempire.com.



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