2018 Arctic Winter Games: Everything you need to know

2018 Arctic Winter Games bid logo with background
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Hay River and Fort Smith will host the 2018 Arctic Winter Games.

The towns’ joint South Slave bid was declared the winner in March 2015 – defeating one rival bid )from another Northwest Territories community, Inuvik).

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of excitement,” Hay River mayor Andrew Cassidy told Moose FM.

“It means a lot to our communities. It shows that the small communities have what it takes to host events like the Arctic Winter Games. It’s a real good-news story for the South Slave.”

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Greg Rowe, chair of the bid committee, told us: “It’s very exciting to get the news. I feel for Inuvik. Our MLA, Robert Bouchard, asked the international committee to put it on a rotation so, the next time it comes in, Inuvik has an opportunity to get it.

“It’s just such a big undertaking. We have a job to do to show that the Arctic Winter Games can be hosted in small communities.

“For the athletes and spectators, we can do every bit as good a job as the bigger centres.”

In full: South Slave bid book for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games (pdf)

When will the Games be held?

According to the South Slave’s bid book, the provisional dates for the Games are March 17-24, 2018.

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Who takes part in the Arctic Winter Games?

The participating teams are traditionally:

  • Alaska
  • Greenland
  • Northern Alberta
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavik
  • Nunavut
  • Sami
  • Yamalo-Nenets
  • Yukon

Which sports are involved?

The 2018 Arctic Winter Games is currently set to feature 18 sports, in four categories:

Traditional sports

  • Arctic sports (eg high kick, kneel jump, arm pull)
  • Dene games (eg finger pull, snowsnake, pole push)
  • Dog mushing

Nordic sports

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  • Biathlon ski
  • Biathlon snowshoe
  • Cross country skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Snowboarding

Indoor sports

  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling

Ice sports

  • Curling
  • Figure skating
  • Hockey
  • Speed skating

Where will the events take place?

We’ve produced this map of the venues:

How much will the Games cost?

The budget submitted by the South Slave bid team predicts an overall cost of just over $7.3 million.

That includes $1.6 million on administrative costs, $1.3 million for accommodation, and half a million dollars each for media and marketing, transportation, and costs associated with volunteers (primarily the cost of their clothing).

Ceremonies, awards, culture and entertainment costs are forecast to come in at around $900,000. $45,000 has been earmarked for security.

The bid team expects to receive $1 million from the federal government, $3.5 million from the territorial government and just under $500,000 from the towns of Fort Smith and Hay River.

The bid hopes to raise $1 million from sponsorship agreements, plus $200,000 from ticket sales and more than $800,000 in in-kind donations.

Soccer is expected to be the most expensive sport to host, at a cost of $109,000 to refit and run Hay River’s Syncrolift building as a temporary indoor arena. Basketball, at $3,500, is the cheapest.

How big will the Games be?

Those financial projections were based on the Games hosting 18 sports, featuring 1,700 athletes, plus:

  • 155 officials
  • 100 cultural performers
  • 300 VIPs
  • 95 mission staff
  • 100 journalists
  • 2,000 volunteers

What will the ceremonies be like?

The opening and closing ceremonies will both be held in the Northern Transportation Company Ltd’s Syncrolift building – a large ship repair facility which the bid proposes to temporarily refit as a ceremonial and soccer venue for the Games.

“The presentation will combine indigenous cultures, talents and traditions with a contemporary youthful appeal,” says the bid book. “VIPs and mascots will be led onto the stage by the RCMP colour guard. Participants will enter under spotlights, as a music video of places and faces of the South Slave plays on a large screen.”

The bid proposes that Hay River biathlete Brendan Green will light the Arctic Winter Games torch during the opening ceremony, alongside an as-yet unnamed female athlete from Fort Smith.

The closing ceremony will feature simultaneous performances in both Hay River and Fort Smith.

In Hay River, says the bid book, “there will be a special musical feature from local Cole Crook Fiddlers”. In Fort Smith, there will be a fireworks display.

What happens next?

According to the bid book:

  • March to August 2015 – Committee and chairperson recruited. Hire contracted individual to manage merchandising.
  • September 2015 to October 2016 – Official AWG apparel launched.
  • February 2016 – Board of directors appointed, office space acquired and operational.
  • March 2016 – Committee travels to Greenland for 2016 Arctic Winter Games.
  • March to December 2016 – Ticket policy established and ticketing system designed.
  • October to November 2016 – “Official AWG outlets” opened throughout the South Slave, “in time for the Christmas shopping season”.
  • October to February 2017 – Tickets go on sale.

The Inukshuk Express

This coach train was used during the 1978 Arctic Winter Games – the last time Hay River hosted the Games, alongside the now-abandoned community of Pine Point – to ferry spectators between the two communities.

The 2018 bid book pledges to bring back the Inukshuk Express, both to take spectators between downtown Hay River and the Old Town, and to commemorate the 1978 Games, with photos from those Games on the coach walls.

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