Native Youth Olympics test endurance, strength and agility
Students from across Alaska are gathering in Anchorage this week for the Native Youth Olympic Games, which are based in Alaska Native cultural traditions and test hunting and survival skills. Here's a look at the events:
ALASKAN HIGH KICK
EVENT: Athletes begin seated on the floor and balance on one foot. They reach across their bodies and grab and hold the other foot. The other hand is place on the floor for support while the athlete kicks at a suspended ball with the free foot. They must then land on that foot without losing balance. The ball is continuously raised until there is a winner.
CULTURAL TIE: The game challenges hunters to use their mind and body together to maintain control, according to the Alaska Native Knowledge Network.
EVENT: Opponents sit on the floor across from each other and place one leg over their opponent's leg and the other under. They then lock arms at the elbows and pull until someone has straightened the opponent's arm.
CULTURAL TIE: A test of individual strength.
ESKIMO STICK PULL
EVENT: Two opponents sit on the floor facing each other with the soles of their feet touching. They both grasp a stick and attempt to pull their opponent from the floor or cause them to fall over sideways. Best two-of-three.
CULTURAL TIE: This event represents pulling a seal from the ocean.
INDIAN STICK PULL
EVENT: Contestants stand next to each other and grasp with one hand a greased dowel that was placed between them. The object is to pull the stick from their opponent's hand.
CULTURAL TIE: This represents pulling a slippery salmon from the water by its tail.
EVENT: Competitors begin kneeling with both feet flat on the floor. They begin by jumping up and then forward. They must land on both feet and stay in that position without moving.
CULTURAL TIE: This event strengthens leg muscles to allow hunters to jump from ice to ice floe and to lift prey.
ONE-FOOT HIGH KICK
EVENT: From a standing or running start, athletes jump with both feet and kick at a suspended ball. They must then land on the foot that they kicked the ball with. The ball is continuously raised in height until there is a winner.
CULTURAL TIE: Used to signal a successful hunt.
EVENT: Competitors put all their weight on the palm or knuckles and lift their body off the floor. They touch a suspended ball with their free hand and then return that hand to the flood. The ball is continuously raised in height until there is a winner.
CULTURAL TIE: Builds a hunter's balance, strength and focus.
SCISSORS BROAD JUMP
EVENT: Athletes must make four continuous hops or steps without losing balance.
CULTURAL TIE: Practice for hunters jumping from ice floe to ice floe.
EVENT: Boys must maintain a lowered pushup position with knuckles down. Contestants then hop on their knuckles and palms as far as they can. Girls assume a pushup position with arms straight and palms flat.
CULTURAL TIE: Mimics sneaking up on a seal sleeping on the ice.
TWO-FOOT HIGH KICK
EVENT: A ball is suspended in the air. Athletes jump with both feet and kick the ball, landing on both feet without falling backwards. The ball is continuously raised until there is a winner.
CULTURAL TIE: This traditionally signalled a successful spring hunt.
EVENT: A person is seated on the floor and hooks one wrist over a long pole being held by two people. Once the person seated is ready, the two carriers pick up the pole and carry the person, who is holding on by the one wrist, as far as they can before the person being carried can no longer hold their weight.
CULTURAL TIE: The event tests hunters' strength and endurance and gives appreciation for the animal that gave itself.
SOURCE: Cook Inlet Tribal Council