High kicks and high fives, athletes in Yukon embrace the spirit of culture and community through arctic sports

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, athletes from Team Yukon gather at a local school to train for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games – Arctic Sports event.

Arctic sports or Inuit games include Alaskan high kick, one and two foot high kick, triple jump, arm pull, knuckle hop and head pull.

The athletes that are here training range in age from 16 to 23.

Emily King is from the Tahltan First Nation and is the only Indigenous female on Team Yukon competing in Arctic sports.

“It feels like I can represent my culture in a different way,” King says.

(Team Yukon’s Emily King doing the 2-foot high kick. Photo: Luke Smith/APTN)

She stands at 5-foot-3 and holds a personal record in one foot high kick at 7-foot-7.

King has competed in numerous sporting competitions and says she is always excited to see old friends

“Everyone is always cheering you on,” she said. “One thing I think is really special about arctic sports.”

Kuduat Shorty Henyu is also no stranger to the Arctic Winter Games.

Henyu has been competing in the games since 2012 where he spent his first year competing as a wrestler.

There was something about arctic sports that caught his eye and he’s been competing ever since.

“The feeling, after doing a really high kick and after kicking the ball the most highest you’ve ever kicked it,” he says. “How it feels after doing a successful one arm reach, head pull, kneel jump and what not.”

(Kuduat Shorty-Henyu. Photo: Luke Smith/APTN)

Henyu’s personal record at one foot high kick is 8-foot-3.

Culture is a huge part of Arctic sports.

Each event comes from traditional ways of life in the Arctic.

All of the athletes that spoke with APTN agree that the Arctic Winter Games are a great way to connect with people from all over the map, but it is the comradery that keeps them coming back.

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