2018 Native Youth Olympics begin in Anchorage

At the 2015 Native Youth Olympics, Makiyan Ivanoff studying the target before making his first-place kick at 110 inches. (File photo: Zachariah Hughes, KSKA)

The Native Youth Olympics kick off today in Anchorage.

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More than 400 high school athletes from across Alaska are in town for the statewide championship, which tests strength, endurance and agility.

Kyle Demientieff-Worl coaches an NYO team from Juneau. He spoke to the AP about the different games his athletes will compete in.

“Probably the most popular games that people know really well here in Alaska are the high-kicking games, where there’s a suspended ball in the air,” Demientieff-Worl said. “There’s a seal hop, which looks like you’re in a push-up position and you hop with your hands curled in like this in a lower push-up position. You go for distance– it’s a game of endurance.”

It’s also a game meant to mimic how subsistence hunters snuck up on seals on the sea ice.

Another event, called the Scissor Broad Jump, replicates leaping from one ice floe to the next in the Arctic Ocean.

The Native Youth Olympics are from today through Saturday. Opening ceremonies start at 1 p.m. at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

This story contained contributions from the Associated Press.

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Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer. Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF. Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about. Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.