Countdown is on

AWG photo Hay River's Elli Rose Cunningham relaxes after her 5 km individual juvenile biathlon even.

AWG photo
Hay River’s Elli Rose Cunningham relaxes after her 5 km individual juvenile biathlon even.

When Greg Rowe arrived in Nuuk for the start of the 2016 Arctic Winter Games, he saw the countdown clock outside the visitor’s centre.

It read all zeros.

That’s when he knew the clock had started for his work to begin.

The president of the 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games Host Society was the keynote speaker at a reception hosted by the society on March 8 to start their own countdown clock of sorts and show everyone that, yes, they will be ready.

“Seven hundred and forty days, I did the math, not that I’m good at math,” said Rowe. “I guess we can officially say our clock has started.”

Several members of the host society were in Greenland to see what’s going on and to shadow those who lead the various departments the 2016 host society has, such as care and comfort, security and transportation, among others.

“They’ve been very good mentors for us,” said Rowe. “It’s been like an apprenticeship for us in a way because we’re learning how to do everything and seeing how it’s done.”

The Games have grown so much over time that you only see them held in major centres where infrastructure isn’t a major issue.

In Hay River and Fort Smith, that will be an issue as every single square inch of space will be used, taxing infrastructure to the maximum.

Rowe said he knows this will be a test to see whether or not smaller communities are able to pull off an event of this magnitude.

“If we fail on this, it will be very tough for smaller communities to bid,” he said. “We know their fate and hopes are in our hands and we have to show the (AWG) international committee we can do it. We need to show we have the finances, we need to leave a legacy, but most important, it’s all about care and comfort. We need to show it’s all about the kids.”

Care and comfort is usually what sells a bid to the international committee and it was no different for the South Slave bid.

Rowe admits Hay River and Fort Smith don’t have the same accommodations and facilities as places such as Yellowknife, Whitehorse or even Nuuk but the bid was sold on the promise that it will be as good as a major centre.

“The athletes will have the opportunity to be within walking distance of seven or eight venues,” he said. “Here in Nuuk, the kids in cross-country skiing or snowboarding are quite some ways out but the host society has done a good job in trying to fix it. They’ve managed to deal with any sort of issue that comes up, just like we’ll have to when it’s our turn.”