About the Arctic Winter Games

The Arctic Winter Games (AWG) is a high-profile sports competition for Northern and Arctic athletes that brings our circumpolar world closer together. The Games provide an opportunity to strengthen and showcase our young people and our communities through international games and sports development. The Games are an opportunity to build partnerships, share cultural values, and to promote the benefits of sport. The Games celebrate sport through friendly competition, while offering athletes a social and cultural exchange with other youth from northern regions around the world. Held once every two years, the Arctic Winter Games represent a high level of international opportunity for aspiring athletes, cultural artists, and performers from the circumpolar world. The focus of the Arctic Winter Games is still the same today as it was in 1970:

"To involve as many athletes as possible either in the Games themselves or in team trials, and to provide a forum of competition for those other than elite athletes with competitive opportunities in the south."

Benefits of the Arctic Winter Games

The Arctic Winter Games provide lasting legacies for everyone involved:

For the Participant, the Games provide and opportunity for the developing athlete to compete in friendly competition while sharing cultural values with other northern regions around the world.

For Sport, the Games provide a vehicle for sport development throughout the North.

For Host Communities, the Games provide an opportunity for community development and pride.

For Governments, the Games enhance the establishment of effective partnerships in order to improve the lives of Northerners while promoting Northern unity and cultural understanding.

In this regard, the Arctic Winter Games International Committee will help to promote the benefits of the Games and work effectively with all key partners, including major television and media outlets, in order to ensure that the benefits are broadcast to the widest possible audience.

The Sports of the Arctic Winter Games

The Arctic Winter Games International Committee tries to select sports with a unique northern flavor. Other considerations include where there is wide participation among the various contingents, or if a sport has the potential for development. The current list of sports for the 2014 Arctic Winter Games includes:

Arctic Sports
Dene Games
Cross-Country Skiing
Alpine Skiing

Dog Mushing
Figure Skating
Indoor Soccer
Table Tennis

Speed Skating
Ski Biathlon
Snowshoe Biathlon

Arts and Culture

In addition to athletes, each participating contingent brings a small cultural group of performing artists to the Games. Visual arts and crafts are also displayed at the Games to portray the North's varied and unique culture. The Host Society also develops an impressive cultural program which runs the entire week of the Games and culminates in a spectacular cultural gala.

Hodgson Trophy

At each Arctic Winter Games, the AWG International Committee presents the Hodgson Trophy, Inuit artwork made from a narwhal tusk mounted on a soapstone base and decorated with scrimshaw, to the contingent whose athletes best exemplify the ideals of fair play and team spirit. Team Alaska was awarded the Hodgson Trophy for the best overall sportsmanship during the 2010 Grande Prairie, Alberta Games.

Past recipients of the Hodgson Trophy are listed here

Fair Play Pin

At each Arctic Winter Games, the AWG International Committee awards a distinctive Fair Play Pin to athletes, coaches, officials and others that strive towards the Games objectives of fair play and team spirit.

History of the Games

Canadian Commissioner of the Yukon James Smith, Commissioner of the Northwest Territories Stuart Hodgson, and Alaskan Governor Walter Hickel began the Arctic Winter Games in 1969. All three men were concerned about the lack of competition that northern athletes and coaches had access to and the fact that the teams were frequently exposed to lopsided scores when they participated in the Canada Games and other national events in the south.

Recognizing the differences of each government and the various goals that the Arctic Winter Games may have within each jurisdiction, the Arctic Winter Games International Committee was formed to act as the guardian of the Games and to provide a mechanism for the member jurisdictions to provide political input while keeping politics away from the day-to-day operations of the Games.

Historical highlights of the Arctic Winter Games

  • The first Games were held in Yellowknife, NWT in1970 with the three contingents from Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska. In the next 16 years, there were "observer" teams from Greenland and northern Quebec.
  • After the 1984 Games in Yellowknife, the AWG International Committee felt that the Games had lost much of their appeal and excitement, and it was time to add another contingent. This would make the competitions more appealing and ensure that medals were not handed out for just showing up.
  • In 1988, it was determined that the Arctic Winter Games were an important event and positive experience for all contingents. So, major changes were made to the development, marketing, and administration of the Games.
  • The 1992 Games in Whitehorse saw the first sport participants from Magadan, Russia attracting national media, both print and television.
  • In 1994, the Government of Alberta received approval to bring participants from the province of Tyumen, Russia to help build upon the economic exchange programs between the two governments.
  • In the 1996 Games, the Chugiak/Eagle River Host Society did an enormous amount of promotion, attracted major sponsors, and expanded media coverage throughout Alaska.
  • Also, in 1996, the addition of Nunavut as a contingent was approved, and AWG leaders approved the move to youth-focused Games.
  • The 1998 Games in Yellowknife included fewer adult categories, and by 2000, the only adults athletes were in Arctic Sports and Dene Games, and cultural events.
  • In 2002, the Games were co-hosted in Nuuk, Greenland and Iqaluit,Nunavut. This was the first Games to be hosted off the North American continent.
  • The 2004 Arctic Winter Games was held in Wood Buffalo, Northern Alberta, featuring two new guest contingents, the Sapmi People from Northern Scandinavia and Province of Yamal, Russia. The Games also had the largest media presence ever with television, radio and print media from all the participating countries.
  • The Kenai Peninsula Borough in Alaska hosted the 2006 Arctic Winter Games in the municipalities of Homer, Kenai and Soldotna, the first time in Alaska history that a games as large as the AWG had been held outside of the major cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks.
  • There has been, and continues to be, considerable interest from other jurisdictions wanting to participate in the Arctic Winter Games. During the political leaders' meeting with the Arctic Winter Games International Committee in 2008, they reconfirmed their commitment to the current contingents and the current size of the Games.

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