Arctic Winter Games (AWG) Trials were held Thursday Jan. 18 to Saturday Jan. 20 in Inuvik. Snoeshoeing was held on the Mackenzie River, and Arctic sports such as Alaskan high kick, knuckle jump, and triple jump were held in the East Three Secondary gym.
Veronica McDonald, who came first overall in the open female category for Arctic sports, said she has been participating in AWG trials since she was eight years old. And now, nearly 14 years later, she’s still competing. She said while she enjoys the sport and always tries her hardest, she keeps coming back to AWG trials for the people.
“I feel like I did the best I could. I beat some of my records. I didn’t come here to break any personal bests, I just came to try. But really, I came here for the people,” McDonald said. “I really enjoy the people. I really enjoy everybody telling their stories over and over. They’ll never stop telling them and I’ll never stop laughing.”
McDonald said the AWG trials community feels like family to her.
“I’ve known Gerry since I was eight, he’s seen me grow up and slowly progress. I honestly come here for them because they’re such great people and it’s always fun to be around them,” McDonald said. “They have such great advice and basically everybody’s just family.”
McDonald said she’s excited to go on to compete at the AWG in mid-March.
“My biggest excitement is to be competing in my hometown. I would not pass up the opportunity. I’ve never competed there, so the fact that they’re in Fort Smith and Hay River is just so exciting to me. I’m so ecstatic to show everyone that this is what I grew up doing,” McDonald said. “This year the host committee called me to congratulate me and asked me to be the torch carrier into the opening ceremonies. So I’m excited to be able to hold the torch in my home community . . . it’s a big honour.”
Gerry Kisoun, announcer for the AWG, said he is very proud of McDonald and all the other young athletes.
“It doesn’t really matter if the kids place in the medals or not. The games are about doing the best you can,” Kisoun said. “We always want to do everything we can to help the kids be the best that they can be in the games.”
Athletes who qualified for Team NWT were announced at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 in the East Three Secondary gym. The AWG will take place from March 18-24, 2018 in Hay River and Fort Smith.