Arctic Sports

Many of the following sports required very little equipment and were performed in tight areas forcing the participants to demonstrate great aspects of control, coordination, timing, flexibility, stability, muscular endurance and a great sense of dedication. The Arctic Sports are a powerful test of one’s own capabilities both physically and mentally. These sports also portray one’s sportsmanship and appreciation towards their competitors and tradition of the sport, as well as the emphasis to push themselves to new limits to achieve their goals.

Classes Competing in Arctic Sports during 2010 Arctic Winter Games include:

Open Male (no age restriction)

Open Female (no age restriction)

Junior Male (93 or later; 17 or younger)

Junior Female (93 or later; 17 or younger)


One-Foot High Kick

Considered to be among the most difficult of the Inuit traditional games, the One-Foot High Kick is a sport that combines the explosive power, the coordination and control of one’s body. A target made from seal hide will be suspended from a pre-determined height and the athlete will have three minutes to take a running approach and jump off of two feet and attempt to kick the target. The athlete will also use their flexibility in order to reach high heights. The athlete must land on the same foot that they kicked the target with.

Two-Foot High Kick

Similar to the One-Foot High Kick, the Two-Foot High Kick is accomplished by an athlete taking a run-up towards the target and jumping. While in the air they must kick the target with both of their feet at the same time. The athlete will then land on both feet attempting to maintain balance and control throughout the entire final step. The Two-Foot High Kick requires a phenomenal sense of timing and a quick kicking action.

Alaskan High Kick

The athlete must support themselves by keeping one hand on the ground while the other is holding their opposite foot and using their last remaining foot in an attempt to kick a suspended target in an overhead position. The athlete cannot let go of their foot at any point during their attempt or they will be disqualified. Upon kicking the target, the athlete must land on the same foot that they just kicked with, while maintaining proper balance and body control.

One-Hand Reach

Typically only performed by men, the One-Hand Reach is probably the closest sport to a mind game and requires a tremendous amount of mental focus and preparation. Even the slightest distraction can cause a loss of balance resulting in an unsuccessful attempt. The One-Hand Reach is performed by an athlete supporting themselves on a single hand, where the elbow is tucked firmly underneath one side of their waist. While balancing on this single point, the athlete will carefully reach upwards toward a pre-determined suspended target. Upon reaching the target the reaching hand must come back down to the ground in a smooth and controlled fashion and support themselves on both hands.

Kneel Jump

Kneel Jump is quite similar to the long jump, only it is performed in a slightly different manner. The athlete kneels on the ground keeping their buttocks on their heels. The jump is achieved by swinging the arms back and forth, creating upward momentum and propelling themselves into the air and landing on their feet. The winner is determined by who has jumped the farthest distance and able to remain on their feet.

Knuckle Hop

Also known as a ‘pain game’, this traditional Inuit sport tests the athlete’s capacity to endure pain. The athlete gets down into a position similar to the push up, placing their elbows against their sides at an angle of 90 degrees. The wrists and ankles are locked and hands are clenched into fists. While supporting their body only by their toes and knuckles, the athlete will begin to propel themselves off the ground and forward – hands and feet must come off the ground in a simultaneous manner. The athlete who covers the greatest distance is declared the winner, and the one who may need the most bandages.


This sport is just as it sounds, the athlete will begin by lying on the floor face-down and placing their arms at right angles of their body. Team members act as carriers, one at each wrist and another supporting the athlete’s by the ankles. The competitor then has to maintain a flexed and rigid form. While in this stable position, the carriers will lift and move the athlete along the course. The competitor that travel the greatest distance wins the round.

Arm Pull

Athletes interlock their arms at the elbows while sitting close together and holding their opponents opposite ankle for support. When the competition is commenced, athletes will try to break elbow lock, straightening their opponents arm out, or by pulling their opponent over. The Arm Pull takes maximum strength and even more tenacity in order to be declared the winner.

Head Pull

Two competitors position themselves facing each other and supported only on their hands and toes. A leather loop is placed around their heads above or below their ears, but the higher the loop, the more difficult the sport becomes. When the signal is given, they begin to pull in a strong and steady fashion. An athlete will be successful when they have pulled their opponent across a target line, or in pulling the loop off the opponent’s head.

Triple Jump

The Triple Jump is a simple sport that tests the athletes repetitive capabilities to exert explosive strength and/or power, and ending in a balanced state. Athletes will run toward a starting line, jump off of both feet and perform three two-foot jumps attempting to reach the farthest distance. The Triple Jump is a traditional sport for the people of the Magadan region of the north, and was first played at the 1998 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, NWT.

Sledge Jump

Ten Sledges, or hurdles, are placed in a row 50 cm apart covered in a traditional caribou hide or blanket. The athlete will jump over each sledge in smooth and continuous motions using both feet to project themselves in the air. Once they reach the end of the row, the athlete does a 180 degree two-foot hop and has five seconds of recovery time before they resume jumping. An athlete will compete to exert as many jumps over the sledges as possible before fatigue plays a factor and forces them to stop, fall, displace a sledge or execute a jump from a staggered step. There is a great deal of vertical skill and coordination, and muscular endurance involved in this difficult sport.