Another Arctic Winter Games has come and gone, and the 2018 event was a huge success for Nunavut.
The final medal count of 55 uluit –15 gold, 17 silver and 23 bronze – was the best showing since 2008, when Nunavut had 67 uluit including 15 gold.
This year’s team showed continued success from perennial favourite Drew Bell of Arviat, an Arctic sports athlete who brought home three gold, four silver and one bronze, setting an AWG record in one-hand reach in the process.
The Dene games team from Arctic Bay is always in contention, and brought home two gold, three silver and three bronze uluit.
Success too for the wrestling team, which brought home five gold, two silver and eight bronze from a variety of athletes.
Such results are almost expected from Nunavut. But the unexpected results make for great stories.
There’s newcomer Emma Carpenter, a young speedskater who earned three golds, a silver and a relay gold with her teammates in the juvenile division.
And look at juvenile athletes Derrick Akeeagok of Grise Fiord and Davidee Kudluarok of Sanikiluaq, badminton partners from Nunavut’s northernmost and southernmost communities who teamed up for gold. Akeeagok also earned a silver on his own, and Kudluarok earned a silver with Megan Kilabuk of Pangnirtung.
Who would have predicted a Nunavut hockey team would be favoured to win it all, only to lose gold by a single point?
Nunavut’s basketball teams are no strangers to the AWG podium, so a bronze for the junior girls is little surprise. But bronze for the junior girls curling team? That’s a sign of progress for Team Nunavut.
Nunavut is becoming more competitive each year, and in the end, we’re so happy to see sportsmanship – considered the true sign of success at the Arctic Winter Games – come through this year.
Although Iqaluit’s figure skaters looked good on ice here at home, the team is so new and the competition so strong that they were not expected to come home with any medals. That was until all of the other teams came together to make sure Nunavut could compete in the team event, contributing five athletes to help Nunavut’s three athletes earn a team bronze.
Such sportsmanship is recognized with the Stuart Hodgson Trophy, awarded to one team each year, this year to Team Alaska. But how do you honour one team when sportsmanship is as important as a win?
And how do you honour all of the other athletes, coaches, parents and volunteers who work for years to create life-long memories?
You come home, start dreaming and get to work to do it all again – but better – two years from now in Whitehorse.
Congratulations Team Nunavut. We’re proud of your efforts and successes!