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Winter games: Committee visits Fairbanks to work on 2014 event

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Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 11:52 pm | Updated: 4:16 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

In late winter 30 years ago, a horde of people showed up in Fairbanks from across the circumpolar north. They came for the first Fairbanks-hosted Arctic Winter Games.

In three decades since, the games have been back only once — in 1988 — but the games will return again in March 2014. Behind the scenes in Fairbanks, scores of people already are organizing to make sure the games are a great success.

This week, members of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee are visiting to work with the Fairbanks host organization. They’ll find an enthusiastic and broad-based group. Local sponsors are already lining up to help.

Organizers expect more than 2,000 athletes, performers and staff members to visit to Fairbanks for the 2014 games, scheduled for March 15-22. Delegations are expected from Greenland, Russia, Sweden and Canada’s Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik Quebec and Yukon. An unknown number of spectators, media and others will arrive as well.

For late March in Fairbanks, it will be a huge influx of visitors. Ensuring that it all goes smoothly will require much preparation and then thousands of volunteers to help with the event.

Local organizers visited Whitehorse, Yukon, in March this year to watch how it’s done. They came back impressed — by some estimates, nearly one in 10 Whitehorse residents volunteered in some way for the games. The Fairbanks crew vowed to do that well or better.

In the short term, they’re planning a “Lunch of Champions,” a benefit for the 2014 games, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Princess Riverside Lodge on Oct. 29. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Trond-Erik Johansen, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska, will attend. For reservations and information, contact Cherie Solie at 456-2014 or csolie@awg2014.org.

For more information on the games, visit www.awg2014.org. The website has details concerning the sports, the athletes, the countries involved, the cultural events and the history of the games.

Most important, the site features an easy form for aspiring volunteers to enter their contact information and interests. According to the count on the website Wednesday afternoon, 570 people have already done so.

Whitehorse, a town of 30,000, had between 2,000 and 3,000 volunteers this past winter. The Fairbanks area, with its 100,000 residents, should easily surpass that. It’s time to get started.

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