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Teams Recover From Jet Lag, Prepare for Competition; Games Begin Today

Tim Ellis/KUAC

Saturday was pretty much a down day for many of the 2,000 athletes who’ve come to Fairbanks from around the circumpolar north to compete in this year’s Arctic Winter Games. Team members and their coaches spent the day recovering from jet lag and preparing for competition, which begins today.

It was a subdued bunch over at the Fairbanks Curling Club Saturday. Two junior mens teams from Canada were sitting around waiting for their turn on the ice after their junior womens counterparts finished their practices.

Team Nunavut boys coach Kevin Bussey says he and his players were still recovering from the several hours they’d spent in the air Saturday flying in from the far northeastern territory.

“Well,” he said, “we’re definitely trying to recover from jet lag.”

Bussey says he wouldn’t be able to catch up on rest until later, because he had a busy afternoon ahead of him.

“We had to arise at about 2 a.m. this morning,” he said, “and of course we’re two hours ahead of Pacific Time. And so we traveled, we got into Alaska at about 8:30, then we had to get straightened out at the athletes village, and get some lunch, come over here and hang out, because we’ve got a coaches meeting. Then we’ve got a team practice, then we’ve got team meetings. So we haven’t had a chance to get any sleep yet.”

Credit Tim Ellis/KUAC
From left: Team Nunavut junior men's curling team coach Kevin Bussey, Caine Komatsiutiksak and Arthur Siksik.

Arthur Siksik is the team vice-skip, and he says they’ll be ready for today’s match against Team Alaska in the round-robin tournament that opens this morning. The tourney will determine which teams go on to the medal round later this week, to compete for the gold ulu.

“Last night we didn’t get much sleep,” Siksik said, “but tonight I think we’ll be well rested for tomorrow. And, we’ll do good.”

Tead lead Caine Komatsiutiksak also feels good about his team’s chances.

“Yeah I think we’ll do pretty good against them,” he said. “We’ve been getting a lot of practice.”

Team Yukon’s boys coach Kevin Patterson also was a bit weary. But he and his players weren’t scheduled to play today. So they were taking it easy while waiting for the girls team to finish up.

Credit Tim
From left: Team Yukon junior men's curling team Coach Kevin Patterson, Joe Wallingham, Trygg Jensen, Brayden Klassen and Will Klassen.

“We get an opportunity to check out the ladies practice ahead of us so we get accustomed to the ice conditions, get acclimatized to Fairbanks…”

Patterson says he didn’t know much about the teams he’ll be going up against in the tournament. But he was optimistic.

“We don’t know exactly how we’re going to size up, because we’ve been at the junior nationals earlier this year,” he said. “And we haven’t met these teams at that level. But we know that there’s good teams out there, so we’re more or less just waiting for practice and then size them up from there. But we’re hoping to take home the gold.”

In addition to today’s action at the Fairbanks Curling Club, there’ll also be volleyball at West Valley High School and indoor soccer at the UAF Recreation Center.

The Arctic Winter Games will officially get under way in earnest with tonight’s opening ceremonies at the Carlson Center

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.