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Interior athletes showcase skills at altered version of Native Youth Olympics

Published: Apr. 3, 2021 at 5:24 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Many events are still feeling the impact of the pandemic, including the Native Youth Olympics. After canceling the event that brings thousands of participants and spectators from around Alaska last year, NYO was not able to host a traditional, in-person event this year either.

However, Native Youth Olympic athletes around the Interior got together at the Ryan Middle School gymnasium for three days and eight time-honored games worth of competition. Although it was not the same as in years past, organizers understood the importance of continuing the games.

“It is super important for the students to keep up these traditions, especially when you watch the video and they can see what their ancestors had to sacrifice to keep their communities thriving,” said Native Youth Olympics coach Wayne Horine. “It is important to remind students where they come from and how far they’ve come.”

Sometimes, it is the youth who showcases the traditions after learning the games through these type of settings.

“I don’t think anyone in my family showed me, I showed them when I got interested in it.” said NYO athlete James Kignak. “Where I am from we do games during winter and summer up in Barrow.”

Dozens of athletes Grades 7-12 from a number of Fairbanks-area schools competed in the games that leave no part of the body untested. James Maska Johnson won the Boys Best Overall Athlete honors, taking first in the Kneel Jump and Seal Hop, while Abby Mallette won the Girl’s Best Overall Athlete Crown, taking victories in the Scissor Broad Jump, the One-Hand Reach and the One-Foot High Kick. More information on the Native Youth Olympics can be found here.

Fairbanks athletes competed in a local-only NYO event.
Fairbanks athletes competed in a local-only NYO event.(NYO)

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