Executive Director Michelle Glaves puts on an ice parka in front of Soldotna Chamber and Information Center.
There were about as many reasons for people to visit the Kenai Peninsula last month as there were fish fingerlings under the ice of the Kenai River. The 32nd Annual Peninsula Winter Games, the Tustemena 200 Sled Dog Race and Jr. T-200, the Native Youth Olympics, and the State Championship Ice Sculpting Competition, headlined a fire works studded weekend. “It was about the kids in the beginning when Al and Bernice York started the first Peninsula Winter Games and it’s still about the kids today,” said Peninsula Winter Games board president John Torgerson. “It was a beautiful sunny day, a little cold, but that didn’t bother the kids any as they threw frozen salmon, got their faces painted, slide around the ice on tubes, played broom hockey, and all kinds of other games that are fun outdoors in Alaska. We’ve added a lot of signature events to this carnival like the Ice Carving Competition, but the smiles on the kid’s faces, the sparkle in their eyes, and the squeals of their laughter sums up the entire purpose of the Peninsula Winter Games,” added Torgerson.
Former record holder David Thomas demonstrates the One-foot High Kick at Native Youth Olympics.
“I’ve never seen my kids have so much fun or laugh so hard playing together and look no computers, no I-pods, TV’s or cell phones, just a bunch of old inner tubes. Do you know where I can get some of those?” asked a mom as she shepherded her two youngsters through the kid’s carnival at the Soldotna Sports Center. According to Shannon Hamrick, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism and Marketing Council which facilitates the Games over two thousand people visited the Soldotna Sports Center during the Saturday carnival, “It’s hard to get an accurate count, it was chilly so folks came and went and maybe didn’t stay as long as last year, but people kept coming all day long and we probably had more people in the end here than last year,” she said.
My Buddy and Me dog weight pull highlights events at Peninsula Winter Games.
For the 5th year the Native Youth Olympics have held their NYO competition in cooperation with the Peninsula Winter Games. According to NYO coach Amber Glenzel the Games are growing each year in participants and spectators, “We’ve seen tremendous growth this year. We have a couple extra teams and some fabulous dance groups that have come down from Anchorage, and I anticipate more teams will be joining us in the future and we are adding events.
Tlingit and Naicla Dancers drove over 200 miles to perform at Native Youth Olympics in Kenai.
This year we had 11 events,” said Glenzel. Several of the participants in last weeks games have been selected to join Team Alaska and travel to Yellow Knife Canada for the 2008 Arctic Winter Games, “My favorite event is the Indian Stick Pull and my coach has taught me the technique, the greased stick simulates the tail of a salmon and teaches us strength as well a cultural skill that is still important to us today,” said Kristina Glenzel who has been selected to compete in the Denai games for Team Alaska.
From flinging frozen salmon to face painting and sleigh rides, "It's About the Kids!" at Peninsula Winter Games.
Once again coaches are looking for sponsors and individuals to help support local members of Team Alaska, for more information contact Amber Glenzel at 260-3116, or the Denai Coach Amanda Attla at 953-0797.
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