Kenai Peninsula Borough bids for 2006 Arctic Winter Games

Posted: Thursday, April 04, 2002

KENAI (AP) -- The Kenai Peninsula Borough is bidding to host the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.

Members of the bid committee met in Soldotna this week to discuss the borough's bid. If successful, the borough would play host to nearly 2,000 athletes, coaches and officials from sites around the Arctic Circle.

Four members of the committee recently returned from observing the 2002 Arctic Winter Games, held jointly in Nuuk, Greenland, and Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Jack Brown, Andrew Carmichael, Pam Howard and Becky Foster returned with lots of ideas on how to strengthen the peninsula's bid. They discussed their findings with the committee, which then outlined a basic strategy for putting a successful bid together.

Carmichael, who also is the Soldotna Parks and Recreation director, said he doesn't see any reason why the peninsula couldn't host the games.

''We have everything we need here. We could definitely pull it off,'' Carmichael told the committee, following a brief overview of the facilities he saw at Iqaluit.

Carmichael said most of the event facilities needed already are available in Soldotna. The only sticking point might be the peninsula's lack of downhill skiing facilities, Carmichael said. He said ideas would be needed for where to hold the skiing events. He mentioned Cooper Landing and Homer as areas where a venue possibly could be built.

Howard and Foster told the committee what to expect as far as transportation and logistics planning. They said they spent most of their time shuttling between sports venues and cultural events.

Howard said volunteers would be essential to the success of the games and estimated as many as 3,000 would be needed, the Peninsula Clarion reported.

''All the things they had (in Nuut and Iqaluit), we have currently,'' said Brown, business director for the Kenai Peninsula Borough's Community and Economic Development Division.

The positive effect the games could have on the peninsula's economy is the reason a bid is being put together. According to the Arctic Winter Games Web site, hosting the games can be quite profitable. The Web site estimates that Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, saw an estimated economic boost of about $4 million when it hosted the 2000 games.

The Arctic Winter Games pits athletes from nine Arctic countries, provinces, territories and states against one another.

The games began in 1970 as a way for athletes from remote, northern regions to compete between themselves. That year, only Alaska and the Yukon and Northwest Territories participated. Today, the event has grown to include more that 1,600 athletes from Alaska, Canada, Russia and Greenland.

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