FAIRBANKS — Inspiration was everywhere Monday afternoon at the Lunch of Champions fundraiser for the 2014 Arctic Winter Games.
Nordic skier Aelin Peterson-Allegood told of learning to ski on the Bering Sea ice before making the U.S. Olympic team. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell talked about the early days of the Arctic Winter Games and former Gov. Wally Hickel’s role in establishing them. ConocoPhillips Alaska President Trond-Erik Johansen presented a $100,000 check to the organizing committee.
By the end of the event, everyone in attendance had a new appreciation for what is coming to Fairbanks in March 2014.
The gathering attracted a packed house at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge and featured a variety of other fundraising opportunities for individuals and businesses.
While the 2014 Arctic Winter Games are still 16 1/2 months away, the organizing committee is about a third of the way toward reaching its goal of raising $1.3 million from the corporate and private sector, according to Bart LeBon, treasurer for the host society.
The Arctic Winter Games are a week-long celebration of mostly youth sports and culture featuring 21 sporting events and numerous cultural activities. More than 2,500 athletes, coaches and staff members from nine northern delegations will participate in the event, scheduled for March 15-22, 2014, at various venues throughout the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
The Arctic Winter Games have been held in Fairbanks on two other occasions, in 1982 and 1988.
Peterson, who grew up in Unalakleet and learned to ski on the Bering Sea ice before moving to Fairbanks, said her fondest memories of the 1988 Arctic Winter Games were attending the opening ceremonies at the Big Dipper Ice Arena and standing on the podium with her Alaska teammates to receive the gold ulu for winning the girls Nordic ski relay.
“Whether it’s the pinnacle of your career or just the beginning, the experience of the Arctic Winter Games will be huge for them,” Peterson said of those who will participate in the 2014 event. “It will serve them well for a lifetime.”
After completing a stellar high school career at West Valley High School in Fairbanks, Peterson attended Northern Michigan University and eventually qualified for the U.S. Olympic Nordic Ski Team for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
She and her family now live in Fairbanks, and she’s excited the games will be coming here in 2014. Her son will be the same age she was when she watched the Arctic Winter Games in 1982.
Johansen presented the $100,000 check to Alaska host society chairman Jeff Jacobson.
“Taking part in this inspiring event is an honor for us and we are excited to help bring circumpolar youth athletes and Alaskans together for what will be a memorable games,” Johansen said.
“This early commitment helps us get off to a great start toward reaching our goal of $1.3 million,” Jacobson said.
“We are thrilled to have ConocoPhillips join us as presenting sponsor of the Fairbanks 2014 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony,” Jacobson said in a press release. “ConocoPhillips’ affiliation with the Arctic Winter Games demonstrates its commitment to Alaska’s youth and culture. We look forward to working with ConocoPhillips to produce an Opening Ceremony that will make Alaska proud.”
Treadwell, who worked with Hickel, Yukon Commissioner James Smith and Northwest Territories Commissioner Stuart Hodgson to set the stage for the inaugural Arctic Winter Games held in 1970 in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, said Alaskans have their work cut out for them if they want to beat the atmosphere of the 2012 games in Whitehorse, Yukon.
He encouraged all Alaskans to get behind the games.
“Give till it hurts, then give some more,” he said. “These games will have a $13.5 million impact on the community.”
He also encouraged members of the community to volunteer for the event. There are more than 750 volunteers already signed up to help out, and organizers say they will need at least 2,500 volunteers to pull off the event.
“You will create relationships that last for a lifetime,” Treadwell said. “Your international efforts will make Fairbanks richer from the experience.”
For information on making a donation or volunteering, go to www.awg2014.0rg or call 456-2014.
Contact Sports Editor Bob Eley at 459-7581.