Scott Hanson uses a chain saw to craft an ice carving in front of Sweeney's Clothing in Soldotna Wednesday afternoon. The carvings are showing up around the central peninsula in advance of the Peninsula Winter Games.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
For anyone suffering from the winter blues, help may be headed your way this weekend as the Peninsula Winter Games get under way.
“The Games are going to be the best ever. They’ll will be a great cure for people with cabin fever,” said Shanon Hamrick, a spokesperson for the Games.
“We’ve got 32 different events and activities this year,” Hamrick said.
The games were officially slated to begin last weekend with the Bradford Clark Memorial Adult Mushing/Skijoring Race, but the event was canceled due to lack of snow.
Weather shouldn’t be a factor this weekend, though, Hamrick said.
“The main action starts Saturday (at 9:30 a.m.) with the opening ceremony for the Native Youth Olympics Competition at Kenai Middle School,” she said.
These games will feature traditional events, such as such the scissor broad jump, Indian stick pull, wrist carry, hand reach and the two-foot-high kick.
“The Native Youth Olym-pics are really neat for this area, and I hope people take advantage of this unique cultural event,” Hamrick said.
At 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Soldotna Sports Center, registration begins for the adult Monopoly tournament.
“We’ll have 30 players that paid a $100 entry fee to play. They will be playing for $3,500 in prizes and giveaways,” Hamrick said.
Sunday, the Native Youth Olympics continue at 9 a.m., and at 2 p.m. children get their turn to own as much as they can during the kids Monopoly tournament.
“The kids Monopoly tournament is free,” Hamrick said.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Games take a break, but begin building Wednesday toward another weekend chocked full of activities.
At 6 p.m. Jan. 25, sign-ups begin for the table tennis tournament at the Soldotna Elks Lodge. At 6 a.m. Jan. 26, the youth hockey tournament begins at the Kenai Multipurpose Facility and at 9 a.m. the State Championship Ice Sculpting Competition begins outside the Soldotna Sports Center.
“It’s a premiere event. We’ve got 10 carvers coming, one from as far as Seattle,” said Norm Blakeley, one of the organizers of the event.
“Some of the carving these guys do is really elaborate, so it’s going to be great.”
Jan. 27, youth hockey tournaments continue, and at 6 p.m. spectators get a chance to meet their favorite musher during the Tustumena 200 pre-race banquet at the sports center.
Jan. 28, the Games get into full swing. Hockey and ice sculpting continue, and at 10 a.m. spectators will have to decide which of several events to watch, since the T-200 ceremonial start at Kenai Chrysler Center, the Jon Wackler Memorial Snowshoe Tournament at Gerke Field, registration for the State Championship Dog Weight Pull, kids carnival, kicksled races and log-sawing competition at the sports center all begin at that time.
In Kasilof, qualifications begin at 11 a.m. for the ice races at the Decanter Inn, while at the sports center the champions luncheon will be held. A new event debuts at noon.
“We’re going to have a mascot kicksled race with mascots from several different sporting events and area businesses,” Hamrick said.
At the same time at Soldotna Municipal Airport, the Al York Memorial Junior Sled Dog Race will get under way, followed at 1 and 2 p.m. by the youth and adult skijoring races.
Also at 2 p.m., the T-200 begins at the Tustumena Lodge in Kasilof, and the first puck will drop in the broom hockey tournament at the sports center.
At 5 p.m., the sports center will host the Celebration On Ice figure skating show, closely followed by the Games dinner and champions banquet.
“And at 8 p.m. we have fireworks and a bonfire,” Hamrick said.
Things begin to wind down Jan. 29 when the champions of the Games are served breakfast at the sports center.
Game bags already are on sale at Sweeney’s in Soldotna and the Kenai Pizza Boys, Hamrick said. The bags, which retail for $10 and allow children to attend the champions lunch and dinner Jan. 28 and breakfast Jan. 29 for free, also come with a Games T-shirt, collector’s pin, stress ball and other freebies, Hamrick said.
For a complete schedule of events for the Peninsula Winter Games, visit the Web site at www.peninsulawintergames.com/calender_of_events.htm.
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