The sweetest legacy of all...
The sweet smell of springtime may not have arrived in the northland yet, but Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula is savoring the sweet success of the Arctic Winter Games and the honor of having been chosen to receive the internationally coveted Hodgson Trophy. At each Arctic Winter Games, the AWG International Committee presents the Hodgson Trophy to the contingent whose athletes best exemplify the ideals of fair play and team spirit. Team members also receive a distinctive pin in recognition of their accomplishment.
The distinctive trophy, which was donated to the Arctic Winter Games Corporation in 1978, by Commissioner S.M. Hodgson of the Northwest Territories, is a piece of Inuit artwork from the Canadian Arctic. Scrimshaw decorates the narwhal tusk that stands as the centerpiece of the trophy, which is mounted on a soapstone base. A walrus carved into the base wraps itself around the tusk. Near the top, a soapstone bear clings to the tusk, symbolizing “reaching for the top” in competition and fair play.
AWG International Committee Chairman Gerry Thick presents the Hodgson Trophy to Team Alaska Chef Demission John Estele and Lt. Governor Loren Leman at closing ceremonies
The Hodgson Trophy is on display at Sport Yukon Hall of Fame in Whitehorse, Yukon. A framed photograph of the trophy is presented to the winning contingent at each set of Arctic Winter Games. This year International Committee included a balloting process from team Chef DeMission’s, coaches, and members of the media who voted for the team which they felt exhibited the greatest spirit and sportsmanship of the Games.
During the week when Team Alaska had achieved a commanding lead in the medal count, Chef John Estle of Team Alaska commented, “I haven’t noticed, it’s not that I don’t care about the medal count, it’s that in the big scheme of things how many medals a team wins is quite meaningless compared to the struggle and effort put forth by the team. We want the team to focus on getting to know their team mates and other competitors from the other delegations, we want our athletes to have a full game experience not just take home a gold or whatever color ulu. It’s about being valiant in the struggle, the struggle is the important thing and to work hard enough to make the effort a struggle. The thing I want to win at these international games is the Hodgson Trophy that is what I’d like to have our team win someday,” said Chef Estle, several days before the trophy was awarded to Team Alaska. The only other times Team Alaska has won the Hodgson Trophy in the Games 30-year history was in 1978 and 1990.
“One of the most important goals we have for the Games is sportsmanship and fair play toward their competitors,” said Wendell Shiffler, member of the International Committee from Fairbanks, “but I want to make sure that the community of the Kenai Peninsula knows and understands that part of the awarding of the Hodgson Trophy tonight to Team Alaska reflects the spirit of the host community and its volunteers. Three years ago when I was here and we awarded you the bid to host these Games I told you your community would never be the same, and now you have experienced the Games, become the Games, and know what I meant. Indeed you are all a part of Team Alaska, and lives have been changed forever,” said Shiffler.
It was a difficult choice with many teams exhibiting sterling sportsmanship and team spirit. Team Yukon for example where in the juvenile division of dog mushing, each participant gave up one of their dogs so that a member of another team whose father had hit a moose outside of Tok while transporting his son’s team to the Kenai could participate. Team Yamal and Team Alberta North, joined together as one team in figure skating to capture the gold Ulu.
Team Alaska wins the coveted AWG Hodgson Trophy
At the volunteer rally two weeks before the start of the Games, Soldotna Mayor David Carey, led a chant based on the cheer that started four years ago when the AWG International Committee visited the Peninsula for the first time, “We want the Games, we got the Games, we are the Games!’ The spirit of the Games was apparent in each volunteer, as well as every member of the community from vendors, police officers, physicians, janitors and teachers, to attorneys, 4 H members and everyone in between. “I am so proud to live and be an Alaskan the Kenai Peninsula made us all proud to be Alaskans,” added Shiffler.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor John Williams is already looking into chartering a plane for anyone wanting to continue releasing the spirit by traveling to the next Games in Yellow Knife in the 2008. Dale Bagley summed up the experience by saying we’ll be remembering and reflecting on the experiences that made these the best Games ever for years to come, “We’ll see each other again, we’ll work together again, but we’ll never be the same, and this has been a once in a lifetime experience.”
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