James McCarthy | Nuuk, Greenland
March 8, 2016
It may be a small contingent but the Dehcho is still right in the middle of things at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland.
Most of the athletes and coaches managed to get in on time for the start of the opening ceremony on March 6. The start time was pushed back to 8 p.m. local time because nearly everyone was stranded in Kangerlussuaq or still waiting to even get into the country.
All of Team NWT had to take bridge flights from Kangerlussuaq into Nuuk and Air Greenland managed to nearly pull off the miracle of having everyone on the ground in time. Alas, some athletes and coaches didn’t arrive into Nuuk until after the opening ceremony but in time to begin their sports.
One athlete who did get in on time was Jacob Klengenberg of Ulukhaktok, who had the honour of carrying the NWT flag into the opening ceremony.
Doug Rentmeister, Team NWT’s chef de mission, said everyone was in before midnight, which was a miracle in itself since several athletes and coaches weren’t expected to arrive until the wee hours of the morning.
Luckily, a good tailwind coming out of Kangerlussuaq helped push the planes along.
“We were expecting kids coming in as late as 3:25 a.m.,” he said. “We were really surprised that we had such a large team at the opening ceremony. The kids are excited and we’re ready to rock.”
He did admit there was a bit of fear about having a smaller-than-expected contingent to march in but the spirit level would have made up for it.
The first sport was badminton and Fort Providence’s Christina Bonnetrouge was in action in the junior girls singles. Unfortunately, she was unable to advance to the playoff round.
Table tennis was up next and Mikaela Vandell of Fort Providence was on court in the junior girls singles and just like Bonnetrouge, she was unable to advance past the round-robin stage.
Still, Vandell said the experience has been awesome.
“I was nervous before my first game,” she said. “It’s been so much fun being here and everyone here takes table tennis so seriously.”
Those nerves must have carried over to the very first serve of her match as she managed to bounce it off the edge of the table, still a legal serve but easy pickings for her Greenlandic opponent.
“That’s how I serve every time,” she joked.
This is Vandell’s second Arctic Winter Games in a row, appearing again in table tennis, but she didn’t play the sport in-between the Games.
The formation of Table Tennis North late last year was a big motivator to get her back into it, she said.
“Thor (Gohl, coach) has been so helpful,” she said. “Before we came here, we were getting up at 7:30 a.m. and practising for an hour.”