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Snowshoe tryouts for AWG take place Wednesday

Arctic Winter Games take place March 5-11 on the Kenai Peninsula

Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The 2006 Arctic Winter Games are quickly approaching, and Juneau will be holding tryouts Wednesday for one of the signature events.

Team Alaska snowshoeing tryouts will be held at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Athletes must arrive at 8:30 a.m., and races will start at 9 a.m.

"There's tryouts going on around the state," said Guy Thibodeau, the snowshoeing coordinator for the state of Alaska. "This is the Juneau tryout. You can hold the tryout wherever you can measure out a couple miles and mail in the times. This will be a time comparison to other areas."

There will be a 400-meter sprint and a 2-mile race for competitors. When all of the races around the state are completed, the times will be complied and the top ones will be selected to represent Alaska in the Games. The Arctic Winter Games take place March 5-11 on the Kenai Peninsula.

There are two divisions in the AWG - the juvenile and the junior age groups. The junior age group is for competitors born between 1987 and 1990. The juvenile is for children born in 1990 or later.

While there is no age limit in the tryout, it is suggested that children ages 13 and older participate. Snowshoe competitors should wear winter running gear. Snowshoes will be provided.

web links

for more on arctic winter games, check out http://www.awg2006.org and http://www.arcticwintergames.org

"It's basically running on snowshoes," Thibodeau said of the sport. "There's technique, sliding and you adjust what you're doing a bit out there. When you're sprinting, you can't do a normal stride because you have the toe of the snowshoe, you'll go flying over on your face. At the end of the race when you need to kick in the last 100 meters, you go into sprinting mode and that can throw it off."

To maintain the cultural integrity of the games, the snowshoes are all wood, with natural bindings instead of metal. Mukluks are also used in place of running shoes.

For the tryouts, regular running shoes may be used if they're aren't enough mukluks available.

The Arctic Winter Games are a biannual event for countries and provinces near or above the Arctic Circle. Events include alpine skiing, badminton, basketball, ski and snowshoe biathlons, cross country skiing, curling, dog mushing, figure skating, gymnastics, hockey, indoor soccer, snowboarding, speed skating, table tennis, volleyball and wrestling.

There are also Inuit and Dene Games.

Teams competing in the Games include Alaska, Greenland, Russia and the Saami people of northern Scandinavia. Canada also sends teams from Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon Territory and northern Alberta.

In addition to athletics, there are several cultural ceremonies and events celebrating and explaining the role of sports in Arctic life.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to go," Thibodeau said. "It's a great cultural experience to go and compete against people from other countries and provinces and see the different cultural events they bring in addition to the sporting venues. It's an amazing feat to put it on for those kids. The whole town gets into it and you feel so welcome there."

For more information, athletes can call Thibodeau at 463-8442.

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com



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