Time to start thinking about Winter Games


Posted: Friday, August 19, 2005

With the salmon still running strong, it’s hard to believe that summer is near its end. But Old Man Winter is on his way, and this year, he’s bringing a lot of friends.

The 2006 Arctic Winter Games is now less than 200 days away — 196 to be exact — and there’s still a lot to be done before the more than the 6,000 participants, fans and guests arrive on the peninsula.

Games officials have said they need an estimated 3,000 volunteers in order to pull off the weeklong event. So far, they’re saying things are looking good. Let’s hope that’s the case. A last-minute rush to get things organized isn’t going to be good for anyone.

People thinking about lending a hand can contact the Games by visiting their Web site at www.awg2006.org. Links to information on how to volunteer, as well as online sign-up sheets, are available on the site.

Anyone wishing to take part should start thinking about it now. It’s a good way to get involved in what promises to be an exciting and memorable event. And volunteers don’t have to give up their lives to help. Games officials have said they will work with people’s schedules in order to accommodate volunteers’ needs.

It’s not only local volunteers who are needed to make the Games complete. The selection process for Team Alaska coaches and athletes has already begun, but there are plenty of opportunities for peninsula people to still join the team.

The selection process for some teams already is underway, while other teams will be selected shortly. Information on tryouts and coach applications is available at www.2006.teamalaska.org.

An Arctic Winter Games that features local volunteers, athletes and coaches would truly be an event for Kenai Peninsula residents to be proud of. Signing up takes little more than a couple mouse clicks, so there’s no reason not to at least check out the information.

Getting involved in the Games is important to everyone. We want to look good on an international stage. People coming here from the circumpolar region of the world will take home a lasting impression of our area. It’s up to us to show them how great the Kenai Peninsula is.

Also, these Games have the potential to bring in lots of revenue to our restaurants, shops and hotels. We owe it to ourselves to put in a little hard work now in order to make the most of this rare wintertime opportunity.

Between now and March 5, a lot of things have to happen. Work on the Kenai Multipurpose Facility and Tsalteshi Trails has yet to be completed, and there still are a couple thousand volunteers who need to step forward.

All that means now — not six months from now — is the time for area residents to start thinking about how they want to get involved. It’s going to take a lot of people and a lot of work for things to come together. But it can happen.

And if it does — if Kenai Peninsula fans cheer on local athletes in local venues at events organized by local volunteers — everyone will be a winner.

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