AWG 2016: Skiers explore ‘weird’ treeless Greenland course

Skiers with mascot
Team NWT cross-country skiers pose with Arctic Winter Games mascot Kuluk the seal. Photo: Darren Horn/Team NWT
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Team NWT’s cross-country skiers are feeling a little exposed in Greenland, but not through any lack of talent.

The young athletes are getting to grips with competing for the first time on a course devoid of trees.

Greenland is almost entirely bare, barring a few small trees around some of the southern fjords. That’s a significant change from the wooded trails NWT athletes are used to seeing back home.

“It’s different to Yellowknife because there are no trees and the snow is quite painful to your eyes,” said Mira Mercer, who competes in the midget female category alongside Rae Panayi, Ella Kokelj and Amelie Aubrey-Smith.

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“It’s kind-of weird because everyone can see you, so if you mess up it’s more embarrassing. If you fall, everyone can see you fall.”

Mercer managed to avoid that indignity, but team-mate Panayi admitted the ability to see and hear so many spectators “made me a little nervous” in her opening ski of the week-long Games.

Kokelj liked the treeless course. “There are no trees, so I can see everything,” she told 100.1 The Moose. “I could see everyone so I knew where I was, mostly.

“The conditions [wind and snow] made it kind-of a little slower than it could have been, but you get over that when you realize you’re skiing in Greenland.”

Aubrey-Smith shared that sentiment, adding the host community doesn’t need trees to look good.

“I love being here, looking at the mountains and seeing how they’ve got so much fluffy, light and beautiful snow,” she told us. “I really enjoy being in this country.”

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