The charters begin to fly

Team NWT begins to arrive in Kangerlussuaq on their way to Nuuk

James McCarthy | Kangerlussauq, Greenland
March 6, 2016
Walter Strong/NNSL photo Kangurlussuak, Greenland - March 6, 2016 - Members of NWT's AWG 2016 girls futsal and basketball lie in wait for their bridge flight to Nuuk after having arrived shortly after midnight.

Walter Strong/NNSL photo
Kangurlussuak, Greenland – March 6, 2016 – Members of NWT’s AWG 2016 girls futsal and basketball lie in wait for their bridge flight to Nuuk after having arrived shortly after midnight.

Slowly but surely, Team NWT is trickling into Greenland for the start of the 2016 Arctic Winter Games.

Sure beats wondering if they would ever get in at all.

That was the case for the athletes, coaches and other mission staff making their way to Kangerlussuaq Airport, the first leg of their journey to Nuuk. From Kangerlussuaq, the team will be herded onto bridge flights operated by Air Greenland and into Nuuk for the start of the opening ceremony, which was pushed back to 8 p.m. Greenland time due to weather playing havoc with everything in Nuuk.

The futsal and basketball teams were two of the first to hit the ground early on March 6 and they certainly looked like a ragged bunch while waiting for their flight.

Sahara Lafferty, who’s playing with the juvenile girls futsal team, said her team got in at around 2 a.m. Greenland time and it’s simply making the best of a rough situation.

“It’s tough but we’re managing,” she said. “Especially more because we’re all excited and time goes by really slow when you’re excited.”

“People offered up any spare rooms they could.”
– Heidi Schemler

The girls basketball team spent the night in one of the Danish Air Force’s administration buildings in Kangerlussuaq while Lafferty and the futsal team stayed in the airport’s infirmary.

Sarah Hart, who’s playing with the basketball team, said it was a long night with very little sleep, but they’re doing what they can to make sure things are as good as they can be.

“There’s a playground, a grocery store, souvenir shop,” she said. “We’ll just get out and walk a little bit and just wait until we fly out.”

Everyone who works at the airport has been run off their feet making sure everyone is looked after and they have done a yeoman’s job in doing so, including Air Greenland, whose employees are perhaps the busiest of them all.

Walter Strong/NNSL photo Kangurlussuaq, Greenland - March 6, 2016 - Air Greenland service representative Heidi Schemler said her crew was doing the best the could to get the teams into Nuuk as quickly as they could, weather permitting.

Walter Strong/NNSL photo
Kangurlussuaq, Greenland – Air Greenland service representative Heidi Schemler said her crew was doing the best the could to get the teams into Nuuk as quickly as they could, weather permitting.

Heidi Schemler with Air Greenland said she’s been most impressed with the sheer number of athletes who have been through the airport.

“I got goosebumps yesterday (March 5) when they first started arriving,” she said.

But the work on getting everyone out to Nuuk is the important part and Schemler said it’s been long hours for her and her team.

“It’s been going fast, though,” she said. “Everyone is just looking at what they can do but everyone is happy.”

The town has come through big time with people offering up spare rooms for stranded passengers on a Facebook page that was set up earlier in the week.

“There are around 1,000 people who were in the town overnight,” said Schemler. “People offered up any spare rooms they could.”

As of Sunday, everything seemed to be getting back to normal as the weather was improving somewhat and flights were getting out of Kangerlussuaq.

It was still windy heading out of Nuuk but Schemler said the overall outlook was good.