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World Eskimo-Indian Olympics get under way Wednesday in Fairbanks

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Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012 11:33 pm | Updated: 10:34 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, with all its pageantry and cultural heritage, gets under way today at the Carlson Center.

The opening ceremonies, which include the lighting of the seal oil lamps, are scheduled for 6 this evening, but there will be plenty of activity earlier in the day.

The WEIO games run through Saturday with a daytime and evening session each day.

The daytime sessions are free. Evening sessions are $10 for adults and $8 for elders and children.

The first athletic competition of the games is the toe kick final at

11 a.m. today. It will be followed by the drop the bomb qualifier at noon, the kneel jump finals at

1 p.m., the one-hand reach preliminaries at 2 p.m. and the Race of the Torch at 3:30 p.m.

The men’s and women’s winners in the Race of the Torch earn the honor of lighting the seal oil lamps to open the games.

Why WEIO?

The following information from the WEIO website describes what the games represent.

The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics are a blend of athletic skill and the culture of the Northern Native tribes.

For time immemorial, Native peoples of the circumpolar areas of the world have gathered in small villages to participate in games of strength, endurance, balance and agility, according to the WEIO website.

Along with these athletic games, dancing, story telling and other audience participation games took place, providing an opportunity for friendly competition, entertainment and laughter.

The hosts provided food and lodging, and visitors brought news from surrounding villages and expanded opportunities for challenge building and renewing old and new friendships.

The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics replicates that atmosphere in an urban setting for everyone to enjoy.

Survival for the Native people of Alaska has been the name of the games for as long as the elders can recollect.

When listening to the stories of their early life, it sometimes seems inconceivable how they managed at all. These stories constantly reiterate the need to be disciplined physically as well as mentally, to share, cooperate, and to hold a reverence for the source that makes it possible to survive in an environment which is severe in every sense of the word, according to the WEIO website.

The Native people lived off what nature provided. They hunted, fished and gathered plants for food, clothing and medicinal purposes. In all of these instances they had to be strong and agile, and able to endure past normal limits of strength and pain.

In winter or summer, one had to prepare to be tested at any moment, and to fail could easily be the difference between life and death.

Awards

When the games come to a close Saturday night awards will be given out. The following are the most prestigious.

• The A. E. “Bud” Hagberg Memorial Sportsmanship Athletic Award — chosen by the athletes themselves — is presented to the outstanding sportsperson exemplifying the spirit of good sportsmanship.

• The Howard Rock Memorial Outstanding Athlete Award is another award to the best athlete chosen by the athletes themselves.

• The Frank Whaley Award Presentation for Outstanding Contributions is presented to the one individual or corporation who has demonstrated exemplary contributions of time, money and effort on an annual basis.

A complete schedule of events is in today’s Sports Scoreboard on page D2.

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