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14/03-16   -   Press releases

Largest Sports Event Ever in Greenland Has Come to an End

Nuuk, Greenland: As the flame of the Arctic Winter Games (AWG) was extinguished to mark the ending of the largest sports event ever held in Greenland and in it's 17,000 inhabitants capital of Nuuk, there was a gasp of relief to be heard from the event organizers of the high profile circumpolar sport competition for northern and Arctic youth athletes.

The Games assembled more than 1,500 youth athletes from circumpolar nations gathering nine teams, including Alaska, five Canadian provinces, Russia's Yamal peninsula, Norway's and Sweden's Sami population besides of host nation Greenland, part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The biennial games began in 1970 to give athletes above the 55th north parallel an opportunity to compete on an international level.

About ten per cent of Nuuk's population of 17,000 inhabitants volunteered at sports centers, outdoor venues, food malls and event offices to make the games run as smoothly as possible. This was despite foreseen seasonal challenges such as snow blizzards that delayed participants and postponed in particular many of the outdoor games taking place from the 6th - 11th March.

15 disciplines were up for competition including traditional winter sports such as alpine skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey (editor's note: ice hockey took place in Iqaluit, Nunavut, CA), but also snowshoeing, and the signature events Arctic Sports and Dene Games that represent centuries-old, traditional forms of competition and activities of the Inuit and Interior Native (Dene) cultures across the Arctic.

A noteworthy tradition in Arctic Sports is the technical assistance and advice that an athlete is expected to provide to his or her rival during competition. While winning is important, the custom of helping an athlete achieve her or his best must be observed.

The total number of medals have not been distributed at the time of writing but one can find this information here: ). Alaska had the highest medal count with 198 wins, followed by Yukon with 98 and Alberta North with 81 Ulo-shaped gold medals, an all-purpose knife traditionally used by Inuit. Greenland won 76 medals.

For General Manager of AWG2016 in Nuuk Maliina Abelsen, who competed as a teen-athlete herself back in 1992, the perspectives of the games are much more than merely winning or losing.

- Our finest objective is to strengthen the development of sports in the Arctic, promote the benefits of sport, build partnerships and friendships, and promote culture and values. I think we've done more than our best to accomplish these goals during only six days, but also in particular these last 24 months of preparing Nuuk for the largest event ever held in Greenland, says Maliina Abelsen.

- It's been huge logistical challenge for our society bearing in mind that we live in one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world with only 55,000 inhabitants in total, and I'm both proud, and to be honest also relieved that we pulled this off as citizens not only of Greenland, but of all the Arctic, she concluded during the closing ceremony.

The next Arctic Winter Games will take place in The South Slave Region, Northwest Territories in Canada in 2018.


Official website of AWG2016:

Free photos from AWG 2016: All photos taken by the Photo Committee before and during the Games will be posted as soon as possible to the AWG2016 Smug Mug photo gallery found at:

The photos are free for you to use with crediting as below. The photographer's name and other details can be by clicking the Info icon beneath each photo, in the EXIF data.

AWG2016 / [Photographer's Name]


VisitGreenland offers you access to a photo database with pictures from almost all aspects of Greenland. We also offer you access to a video database:

11 events are included: one-foot, two-foot and Alaska high kicks, arm pull, kneel jump, airplane, one-hand reach, head pull, knuckle hop, sledge jump and triple jump.

The Dene Games include five events: finger pull, pole push, stick pull, show snake and hand games. The finger pull is painful to watch and just plain painful if one is a competitor. Perhaps the most fascinating event is the hand games. Two teams of four face each other and take turns trying to deceive the other about the location of a token in one team member's hand. This is accompanied by drum beating and bodily gyrations.


General Manager Maliina Abelsen,, cell phone 299 548660 (please observe that Nuuk, Greenland, is in the GMT -3 time zone)

Assistant to the General Manager Arnakkuluk Jo Kleist,, cell phone 299 547854


Team Nunavut: Mariele Depeuter 299 521430,
Team Alaska: Kennis Brady, 1(907) 351-2250,,
Team Nunavik - Québec: Brent Reaney, 867-446-3985,
Team Yukon: Paolo Gallina,, 299 521410
Team Alberta North: Cam Berwald,, 780-422-7109
Team Yamal: Jana Wrublewska,, 299 521583
Team Sapmi: Aslak Paltto,, 299 521563
Team North West Territories: Doug Rentmeister,, 299 521479
Team Greenland: Lauritz Heilmann,, 299 521535


Press contacts

Arnakkuluk Kleist
  +299 38 20 17


Arctic Winter Games 2016
Imaneq 32, 1 th.
3900 Nuuk, Greenland


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