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AWG 2016: Team NWT underway after delayed opening ceremony

Team NWT’s athletes are underway at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games after an opening ceremony delayed by bad weather.

Sunday’s ceremony in the host city of Nuuk, Greenland, was pushed back by half a day after many athletes were held for hours or days at Kangerlussuaq Airport – a 50-minute flight from the capital.

Kangerlussuaq provides Greenland’s only runway large enough to cope with some commercial flights, but poor weather conditions meant bridge flights between Kangerlussuaq and Nuuk were unable to operate for lengthy periods over the weekend.

Several teams were affected, with many NWT athletes experiencing delays of 12 hours or more.

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Amy Allan, coach of the territory’s intermediate girls’ futsal team, said up to 30 athletes had crowded into one room of the airport to sleep when they were held up overnight. A military barracks also opened up its sleeping quarters for stranded travellers.

However, Allan said her team remained in good spirits and had kept occupied.

“The athletes went and hiked, they got some sleep and they had the chance to meet other teams,” she said. “There has already been some pin-trading.”

All athletes have now arrived in Nuuk, though some had to watch Sunday night’s opening ceremony via Greenland television’s live coverage.

At the ceremony itself, Team NWT was the first to parade into the arena – led by flagbearer Jacob Klengenberg.

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Klengenberg, from Ulukhaktok, will compete in snowshoe biathlon at this week’s Games.

“It’s pretty special to be chosen out of all of these people. It’s awesome,” he said.

Delays caused by the weather have had an impact on the sports schedule, with many sports opting to allow an additional training day on Monday.

However, team sports such as futsal, basketball and volleyball have begun – with Team NWT’s junior male futsal players the first to register a result after they tied 1-1 with Alberta North.

The territory’s badminton players also begin their competition on Monday, while hockey begins in Iqaluit.

Iqaluit-based athletes had initially been expected to attend Sunday’s ceremony in Nuuk before transferring back to Nunavut, but flight delays meant they were forced to miss the ceremony.

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