Southeast athletes prepare for Arctic Winter Games

    Team Alaska snowshoers prepare for practice.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Arctic Winter Games will be hosted this month in nearby Whitehorse, Yukon, and over 30 Southeast athletes and coaches will compete as members of Team Alaska.

    The Games take place March 15-21 feature 21 sports in four disciplines: Traditional Sports, Nordic Sports, Indoor Sports, and Ice Sports. 

    Team Alaska's snowshoe contingent is made up almost exclusively of Juneauites. Of the eight Team Alaska snowshoers, seven hail from the capital city: Lindsay McTague, Annika Schwartz, Etta Eller, Erin MacDonald, Eli Mead, Isaac Schlosser and Eli Crupi.

    McTague, a sophomore at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé, won two gold medals during her first stint on Team Alaska in 2018.

    "After doing it (two years ago), I was like, 'OK, I got to come back,' because it's just so much fun and you meet so many cool people," McTague said. "It's just a lot of fun and I still am in contact with some of the girls on the Russian snowshoe team. It's really neat."

    Others like MacDonald will be brand new to the Games. MacDonald, 14, said she's been snowshoeing most of her life. But this was the middle schooler's first winter on traditional snowshoes made of wood and sinew.

    Snowshoes made of synthetic materials aren't allowed at the Games, coach Merry Ellefson said.

    "The whole structure of these snowshoes is totally different, the tying, all that stuff," MacDonald said. "It's really cool but it was a really big shift."

    MacDonald said she's excited to mingle with athletes from all over the world. The Games features teams from the United States, Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia.

    "I'm most looking forward to meeting people from different places and snowshoeing in different terrain," she said.

    There will be four snowshoe events: long distance, short/middle distance, relay and a combined event.

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