Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Feeling the fire
It’s a small world after all as people from far-flung regions came together in camaraderie and a mutual experience at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Arctic Winter Games that got under way at the Soldotna Sports Center on Sunday evening — an event that lived up to its intention to inspire athletes, cultural performers, volunteers and onlookers alike.

Reporters’ Notebook
Editor’s note: The Reporters’ Notebook is an opportunity for Clarion reporters to share their experiences with our readers as they cover the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.

Dene Games
At Mountain View Elementary School

Focus on: Curling
· Goal of game: Slide a stone down a sheet of ice and have it stop near the center of a set of rings (called house), while your opponent tries everything tactically to stop you from achieving said goal. Bottom line: Game is honorable much the same as golf.

‘We knew we could do it’
A now-infamous car ride to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, in 2002 finally paid off Sunday night for Jack Brown.

Wrestling with new rules
Team Alaska’s wrestlers managed to pick up wins and knowledge Monday during the opening rounds of Arctic Winter Games wrestling competition.

Skill not sidelined in sidearm throw
To alpine skiers, the term “snow snake” is used to identify that imaginary serpent that hides mercilessly in the middle of a perfectly groomed ski slope, and deftly bites the tip of the unwary skier schussing by, causing the skier to fly up into the air and land on his or her noggin.

Reporters’ Notebook
Editor’s note: The Reporters’ Notebook is an opportunity for Clarion reporters to share their experiences with our readers as they cover the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.

Warming up for the Games
Teams eager to compete in the Arctic Winter Games weren’t wasting any time this weekend, and many athletes didn’t let jet lag stop them from practicing for events — some just 24 hours away.

Ulu winners
Cross-country skiing Dene games Inuit Games Speed Skating

Native athlete pulls for a win
It has only been five weeks since Brianna Goins of Ninilchik learned she had been selected for the Arctic Winter Games juvenile female Dene team. But Dene coach Amanda Attla of Anchorage has had her eye on Goins for years.

Table your enthusiasm
Members of the Team Greenland and Team Yamal-Nenets table tennis teams speak very little English. Even so, Team Alaska has a much easier time hanging with Greenland and Yamal players away from table tennis than at the tennis table.

Arctic Winter Games athletes arrive by the planeload: Airport sees busiest day ever

Pin trading is habit-forming part of Arctic Winter Games
With little more than a blank spot on the front of their jackets, Kenai Peninsula kids were introduced Monday afternoon to what easily could become a lifelong addiction.

Lending a helping stair
Athletes exiting a Bowing 757 airplane that arrived from Greenland were greeted by a foreign airport contraption in Kenai on Saturday, after equipment inspectors discovered that a functional set of stairs tall enough to reach the plane’s door were not available.

Friendship within their reach
Standing on the sidelines of the one-hand reach airplane event, Matt Anikina of Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories silently bobbed his head to 50 Cent blaring in his headphones and watched as his competitors dropped out one by one. As the defending Arctic Winter Games champion in the Inuit games event, Anikina had every reason to believe he would repeat as champion.

Well the Trustworthy Derby is over for another year and I think perhaps it might have been the best derby ever. A lot of nice fish brought in by a whole lot of different anglers and plenty of smiling faces. My family and I never won any of the big fish categories despite spending a whole lot of time out fishing.

In Sterling a chain saw is not just for cutting firewood
Underneath the bark of many of the beatle killed trees on the Kenai Peninsula is an animal or caricature waiting to come to life at the hands of Scott Hanson’s chain saw. Specializing in animals native to the arctic north, Hanson has created a one-of-kind carousel at his town of living trees and gift gallery in Sterling as well as many figures of bears, salmon and eagles that grace the entry ways of businesses and homes throughout Alaska. “I just gave it a try one day to see what I could do with my chain saw, and one thing led to another and now the chain saw is my main tool for all the work that I do,” says Hanson who only studied art in High School. Three years ago Hanson started sculpting with his chain saw in ice the same way, and since has won many awards and ice carving championships. Alaska’s cold winters and pure water forms ice quickly and densely giving it a slight glacial blue tint so clear that a person can read a news paper through a four-foot block of ice. During the Peninsula Winter Games in February Hanson crafted many figures in ice around the Central Peninsula with the hope they would last for the Arctic Winter Games. However, above average temperatures melted most the ice figures that ranged from leprechauns to figure skaters and angels.

Alaskan wines tempt the pallets of adventuresome connoisseurs...
It may take a while for Alaskan made wines to catch up to the Great Land’s reputation for big mountains, fish, bears and moose, but the Bear Creek Winery in beautiful Homer by the Sea is off to running start. Alaska’s climate may not allow for the cultivation of the Pinot Noir grape, but it does offer exceptional wild berry and rhubarb harvests. The idea of an Alaskan winery was the brainchild of Dorothy Fry and her husband Bill, “It’s actually a hobby gone very amuck,” laughs Fry when asked the most common question of where the grapes come from for their Bear Creek Winery, “It all started some 17 years ago when we were across the bay at Halibut Cove with friends at a pot luck and Dave Nixon brought some raspberry/rhubarb wine and my husband went nuts for it and making wine was something he had always wanted to do so 9 years ago we started making wine on our kitchen counter, and it’s just grown from their to where today our main problem is keeping up with the demand, it’s grown beyond our wildest dreams, we have had people drive from as far away as Fairbanks just to buy our wines,” said Dorothy.

Local artists to meet and greet AWG visitors at Frames & Things in Soldotna
Four artists, four shows, for four special days. Visitors from around the world during the 2006 Arctic Winter Games will have a unique opportunity to meet popular Alaskan artists. According to Brian Irwin of Frames and Things in Soldotna the idea was to provide a central location where visitors could engage in dialogue with some of our local artists. “The first day March 8th, we will be featuring Alaskan wildlife photographer John Ferguson. Thursday the 9th, Norma Daniels will be here with her exquisite Alaskan crafting of hand made detailed images of Gnomes, Santa’s, and Russian dolls. Then Friday from 3:00pm to 5:00pm Regina Mcabee will present her dazzling birch bark vessels shaped in a variety of free flowing forms. Then Saturday we’ll conclude the series just before the AWG closing ceremonies with the legendary Ed Tussey. Ed will be present to meet and talk with you and sign his work. If you enjoy meeting artists, Ed is one of the nicest people you’ll ever engage in conversation,” said Irwin.

Reader: Sports coverage lessens senior night meaning
Your coverage of Soldotna High School and Skyview High School senior night festivities/basketball games urged me to write this letter. My comments are for all, but especially directed at your sports writing staff. Although I did not have a student playing on either team, I went to senior night to celebrate with the students and parents of the seniors that were playing.

Help appreciated in fuel spill matter
The Sterling Community Coalition Group would like to thank Rep. Mike Chenault and Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski for intervening in the Zip Mart fuel spill litigation on behalf of the affected property owners of Sterling.

Reader: Alaska control needs to come to an end
To annex or not to annex. I’m not talking about that little trailer house down on the corner being annexed for a bus stop. I’m talking ANWR. That’s right, the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or about 2,000 acres and a road to connect it.

Gift hits right note with Kenai Performers
Thank you, Tesoro, from Kenai Performers for the wonderful and very generous donation of $1,000. With your assistance we have been able to purchase a beautiful new piano for the community playhouse. What a joy we will receive from the use of this piano in our performances, events and the many activities that go on at the playhouse.

Blood drives run with support
The generous students and faculty at Kenai, Soldotna and Ninilchik high schools graciously hosted blood drives the week of Feb. 19. These community events were supported by the use of a van sponsored by numerous businesses and civic organizations from the Kenai Peninsula. One hundred twenty-nine people took time out of their busy schedules to donate blood. Thank you all.

Dental experience painful
My granddaughter had a very bad tooth ache and called several dentists locally and could not get care.

Alaska economy on drugs
Alcohol and drug abuse cost the Alaska economy an estimated $738 million during 2003, according to a report by the Governor’s Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Antibear carts to dispose of trash foraging
Dumpster diving won’t be as rewarding for bears visiting Kenai this summer as it has been in the past, thanks in part to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game conservation program.

South Peninsula Hospital expansion project put on diet
The troubled South Peninsula Hospital construction project is expected to go out to bid by the second week in March, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor John Williams said.

Fighting drugs a difficult battle for Kenai Peninsula, elsewhere
As researchers continue gathering data and applying techniques that reveal how the brain works and how addictions occur, the more the world of substance-abuse treatment changes, said Henry Novak, for a decade the executive director of the Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Homer shooter took own life
A state medical examiner has determined that the man involved in a shootout with police at Homer Airport was struck several times by officers’ bullets, but died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.

Stevens outlines Pebble stance
Sen. Ted Stevens, visiting the Kenai Peninsula for the opening ceremonies of the Arctic Winter Games, outlined his opposition to the Pebble Mine Project, vowed a continued fight to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and urged state legislators to create a climate for investment in Alaska during a press conference Sunday.

Mayors find holes in tax cap proposal
A House bill that would cap the rate at which assessed values of real property could rise each year would harm many of Alaska’s municipalities, Tri-Borough Commission mayors said in Soldotna last week.

‘Jellied’ halibut spreading
This week commercial fishermen geared up their boats to kick off the opening of the halibut fishery and soon will be followed by sport and charter boat fishermen, all in hot pursuit of this sweet, flaky-fleshed bottom fish. But not all halibut will be welcomed onboard charter boats or into the fish market.

David W. ‘Dave’ Billingsley
Lifelong Alaska Native and Kenai resident David W. “Dave” Billingsley died Thursday, March 2, 2006, at his home. He was 50.

Peninsula People
Area students make honor roll Area scouts honored Peterson honored

Kenai Peninsula Online - Alaska Newspaper -

Around the Peninsula
Skyview to host parent night Genealogical society plans events Amnesty International presentation slated Social Security reps to visit area Volunteer drivers needed Foster care, adoption workshops available Martial arts class offered

Around the Peninsula
Pesticide training planned HEA schedules Kasilof meter upgrades Free health screenings set Parenting seminar scheduled Bear baiting clinic planned

Sports Briefs
Middle schools hold borough meet Kenai girls, boys split with Sitka

Northern Lights Conference Basketball Tournament at Colony High School

Senior Activities
Kenai Soldotna Sterling

Senior Menus
Kenai Ninilchik Soldotna Sterling

Oilers Corner
The Oilers have solidified their 2006 coaching staff with the signing of Brian Hickman to the assistant coaching position left vacant when Wes Davis was unable to return. In 2004, Hickman served with the Oilers alongside current Oilers head coach Thad Johnson under head coach Aric Thomas. Hickman now serves as an assistant to Thomas at Eastern Oklahoma State College. The former catcher from Oral Roberts University played several seasons in the White Sox organization before entering the coaching ranks.

International media converge on Kenai Peninsula for Games; volunteers to light cauldron
More than 200 local, regional and international media covering the Arctic Winter Games gathered on Sunday for a brunch and briefing at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, which will be known as “The Coca-Cola Media Center” during the Games.

Winter Games for the Motivationally Challenged
Couch Potato Chip Toss: This game can be played as an individual or a group sport. There are no official rules; however, bonus points can be earned if participants demonstrate the ability to catch chips in mid-air.

First wrestling dual of the AWG
The first wrestling duel of the Arctic Winter Games pitting Team Alberta North versus Northwest Territories on Monday wound up with Alberta pinning their opponents 98-20.

Pamyua opens the Games in international fashion as local Native college students join them onstage
Feel the beat of the drums. Watch the entertaining showmanship. Listen to the variety of lyrics of Pamyua (pronounced “bam-u-ah”).

Indoor soccer kicks off with physically brutal game
Boys’ soccer kicked off in what turned out to be a very physical game Monday, with Northern Alberta eventually taking the contest with a 5-3 win.

Massive media gathering
More than 200 media professionals, including representatives from the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, were on hand at the media brunch Sunday to learn more about the Arctic Winter Games and how they might cover them.

Arctic Winter Games ceremony draws praise from participants and spectators
Kathleen Netser, Team Nunavut (soccer). “It was awesome. The best part was that I was there with all my friends and my brother. But I was too short to see the dancing.”

Snow Snake event leads off Dene and Inuit Games
The Arctic sports are in motion and literally kicking into gear.

‘Discipline that lives with them;’ Senator Stevens says of Arctic Winter Games athletes
United States Alaska Senator Ted Stevens agrees with the many people who say the participants in the Arctic Winter Games could be our next Olympic athletes and his positive outlook for our young people is infectious.

Spectacular Opening Ceremonies “Release the Spirit Within” the Kenai Peninsula
Nearly 4,300 people heeded the call to “Release the Spirit Within” and participated Sunday night in the official Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Arctic Winter Games at the Soldotna Sports Center.

Website brings the world to the Games
Not everyone who is interested in the Arctic Winter Games can attend in person, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be part of the experience. The Games website (www.awg2006.org) offers a window to the action.

Interactive video connects Homer media to briefings
Arctic Winter Games general manager Tim Dillon can’t be in two places at the same time. But he is able to deliver his daily media briefings to reporters in Homer, while actually being in Kenai. That’s because the “Coca Cola Media Center” is linked by interactive video technology to the Homer media center at the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College.

Peninsula athletes small in number, mighty in spirit
Athletes from the Kenai Peninsula generally compose a small percentage of representative Alaskan players. Only a small handful from the Kenai Peninsula competed in the 2002 and 2004 winter games; however, Peninsula residents have been ardent and enthusiastic competitors nonetheless.

AWG volunteer training session draws huge crowd
Meeting the needs of the thousands of athletes, performers, and guests gathered on Kenai Peninsula for the Arctic Winter Games is no easy task. Making the job easier are the 2,800 volunteers who will assist in every aspect of the Games’ operation. More than 1,600 of those volunteers attended a two-hour training session February 18 at Kenai Central High School.

Speed Skaters set new records in 500 meter races
Two new Arctic Winter Games speed skating records were set in 500-meter races Monday at the Soldotna Sports Center as a small yet exuberant crowd cheered them on.

The ‘End of the Road’ beckons Games visitors via shuttle for Curling and culture
While Homer, Alaska is fondly referred to as “the end of the road” by locals and tourism brochures, during the Arctic Winter Games there is no end in sight as to what is happening at the other end of the Peninsula.

At the Opening Curling Ceremonies in Homer, an all-star line-up welcomes the competitors to the ice
The sound of bagpipes echoed throughout the Homer ice rink as Kenai’s Steve Adams blew “Scotland the Brave” to kick off Curling on Monday.

Age doesn’t matter when you’re part of the team
Joel Hanthorn of Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, is one of approximately 2,000 athletes participating in the Arctic Winter Games this week.

Mushers test drive trail; find conditions good, but slow
The Arctic Winter Games dog mushers had their first official meeting Sunday after Saturday’s snowfall at the Peninsula Dog Track on Funny River Road, Soldotna.

In event of emergency, breakout this plan
Should there be any kind of natural disaster or threat to human safety, Arctic Winter Games officials have a plan.

College Spring Break in Alaska means subtracting sun, sand as students help AWG
Sun, Daytona Beach, frivolity, Ft. Lauderdale, beaches, and not a care in worldis what comes to mind when you think of Spring Break and college students. However, students from Alaska Christian College in Soldotna are spending their week-long vacation volunteering at the Arctic Winter Games.

Arctic Winter Games downhill ski racer shares flashback
Excitement about the Arctic Winter Games sparks unexpected conversations in unexpected places. Take for instance an innocent ride to the hospital in a TransCare hospital shuttle bus, and who should be driving but Michael Thompson, a former down-hill ski-racer who participated in the Arctic Winter Games held in Eagle River, Alaska in 1996.

Yukon breaks into the games
The Yukon has a unique cultural contingent taking part in the Arctic Winter Games—a team of break dancers.

Sled Dogs Challenge the Mushers
The mushers of sled dog racing have unique challenges that other winter game participants won’t encounter. Each dog driver has four to seven dogs they have to care for. In other events, the participants only deal with their own personal gear and equipment.

Nations worship together
Arctic Winter Games coaches, athletes and members of neighboring congregations gathered Sunday for a praise and worship service at the Soldotna High School auditorium. The crowd of about 70 people, representing four of the nine contingents here for the Games, clapped and sang to lively praise songs.

Snow creates winter wonderland, but creates work for volunteers
Those who were dreaming of an even whiter Arctic Winter Games got their wish late Saturday night when almost 10 inches of snow fell on the Kenai Peninsula. While the white stuff gave even more meaning to the term “Arctic,” it created more work for volunteers.

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