Arctic Winter Games 1990 Blog

Kelly selected for 1990 Arctic Winter Games

Wednesday November 8, 1989

We just found out that Kelly was selected to be one of the dog mushers representing Alaska in the upcoming Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, Northwest Territory, Canada. Paul Conn from Fairbanks will be the other dog musher from Alaska. Both of his parents and his sister are successful mushers in the Fairbanks area. They are going to fly Kelly and four dogs to Yellowknife with the rest of Team Alaska. Sandy and I are going fly with the team and stay in a hotel. A musher in Yellowknife is going to let Kelly and Paul use his dog truck to keep their dogs secure in Yellowknife. We are all looking forward to the trip and the games. It should be a lot of fun. We are going to have a pin made to trade at the games. We have heard pin trading is a large part of the games.


Leaving for Yellowknife
Saturday March 10, 1990

We are leaving tonight for Yellowknife. We are all very excited, even the dogs. We are taking Blackie, Shakey, Axle and Chinook with us. The first race will be on Tuesday, four dogs for 10 kilometers (6 miles). Wednesday will be just 3 dogs for 7.5 kilometers (4.5 miles). Then on Thursday, the race will be just 5 kilometers (3 miles) with 3 dogs. I don’t know about the Canadian teams, but Kelly will have the best chance of winning in the last race because her dogs love the short distance races.

Opening Ceremonies
Sunday March 11, 1990

Tonight over 3000 athletes, cultural performers, spectators and special dignitaries will crowd the Yellowknife Community arena for the opening ceremonies of the twentieth anniversary of the Arctic Winter Games. We just found out that Kelly was selected to walk with the Alaskan Chef de Mission and lead the other Alaskan athletes into the community arena. Here is a video of Kelly and the rest of Team Alaska at the Opening Ceremonies.

Here is a little more from the opening ceremonies. There is some dancing and drum playing and even an Arctic Winter Games song and mascot for these games in Yellowknife.

After the ceremonies all of the athletes headed back to the athletes' village. They all slept in different schools. The schools were closed for the week of the games. Sandy and I went to our hotel. It is going to a big day tomorrow.

Pin Trading and Trail Inspection
Monday March 12, 1990

All of the athletes from each of the areas competing in the Arctic Winter Games are given pins to trade just like at the Olympics. In addition, the television people have pins to trade and so does everyone it seems that is here for the games. So when you walk around town with the pins on your coat, everyone looks at your pins. They even have an area set up just for pin trading. But the trading happens all over town. The newspaper published for the games, The ULU News, has a list each day of the top ten most popular pins. We had heard about the pins so we had some made before we left for Yellowknife. They are very popular. They are so popular they are mentioned in this morning's Ulu News newspaper along with Kelly being so small.


The Russian pins are also very popular. We have some Russians staying across the hall from us in the hotel. We can not understand each other but we have traded a lot of pins with each other. Here is a picture of the pin we had made and the Russian pin.


Here is a picture of the Yukon dog mushing pin and some of the Russian pins.

russia pins

Here is an article from the ULU News about the pin trading.


We finally got Kelly away from the pin trading after lunch and we are going to inspect the trails that she and the dogs will be running on during the games. To our surprise the races will take place on a frozen lake. That means no hills to go up or even better to go down. When we got there the people were working to set up the place for tomorrow's races. Everyone seemed really nice. Kelly introduced us to the other mushers who will be competing with her and Paul. They are all so much taller than she is. That could be an advantage for her. We'll see. Both of the girls racing for the Northwest Territory team come from very famous racing families. I don't know much about the Yukon team members. Back to the hotel and try to figure out which dogs will be in lead tomorrow and which will be in wheel. Tonight is the drawing for starting positions.

Mushers Draw
Monday March 12, 1990

The six mushers from Alaska, Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories all met at a large log cabin building for a pot luck supper and to draw starting positions for each of the three days of racing. Back home Kelly and Paul are used to three day races where the total time after three days determines the winner. These races were going to be different. Medals will be given for each day of racing. We met the mushers again and their families. They all seemed really nice. This is going to be a fun event.

Day One of Racing
Tuesday March 13, 1990

Before the races started they had an opening ceremony for the dog mushing event right on the lake where the races were going to take place. Here is a short video of the ceremony.

After the short ceremony, it is time to race. Kelly drew the 5th starting position and Paul drew last. Kelly is going out behind one of the Yukon girls. The trail is so wide that passing should not be a problem. The rule for passing is when a musher catches a musher in front of him or her and yells, "TRAIL", the musher in front has to slow down and let the passing musher go by. Everyone is told from the time they start racing if you are passed don't try to re-pass the faster team. Let them go on. However if the musher who was just passed yells "TRAIL," the team in front has to let the other team go by. It is a crazy rule it that regard. Hopefully that won't be a problem and we will have a clean race.

Here is Kelly and her team at the start of the race. She has Chinook and Blackie in lead (Blackie is the white dog.) Axle and Shakie are in wheel (in front of the sled). Look how excited they are to race. This race will be 6 miles.

Here is the finish of the race. I have never watched a race on a lake before, we could see the mushers all around the six mile course. Usually you just see them at the start and finish. They start in two minute intervals and when they move from left to right or right to left they appear to be moving but when they are coming at you or away from you they look like they are stopped. Weird. Here is the finish of the race. Kelly has passed the girl from Yukon and looks like she was working hard. Her hat is off as she drives her team to the finish.

After the race tevevision and newspapers people were interviewing the mushers. It felt just like the Olympics. Kelly seemed to be enjoying her moment in the spotlight.

Day One is over and Paul won the gold ULU, with a time of 20:26. Kelly won the silver ULU, with a time of 20:53. Their medals are shaped like ULUs, a traditional native cutting instrument. They will be awarded at a ceremony on Thursday. At least the first day is behind us and all is well. Next decision is which dog do we not run tomorrow. It will be a 3-dog race over 4.5 miles. We'll wait until morning to make that decision.

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