Just some context for the start of Cycle Write Blog: since it is less than two weeks from the arrival of the Olympic relay torch flame in Vancouver, Cycle Write will include my observations as a resident living in the heart of Vancouver as the Olympics unfold — literally down the street and 360 degrees around us.
Last week I dropped by one of several free information and tourist pavilions, the Northern House. Northern House is a pavilion collectively sponsored by the Canadian territorial governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Of interest, was the thematic art cultural display, ‘Northern Games at the Olympic Games’ which highlighted traditional Inuit sports through the private art sculpture collection of Vancouverite, Lorne Balshine.
Nalukataaq (blanket toss or walrus hide toss), was a popular outdoor activity in the spring where originally the hide of walrus, served as the “blanket”. Some
considerable endurance and strength is required for other sports –such as the one arm reach which is a version of aqraoraq (high kick). This sport required a truly gymnastic one-arm handstand, while simultaneously kicking a suspended sealskin ball on a post, above with the other foot. Or how about sittuqtaaq, or squatting as long as possible on one leg.
While wandering around the exhibits in my cycling gear, a staff person from the Yukon declared she now sees more winter cyclists in Whitehorse. Winters there drop often below -40 C .
Nearly a decade ago when I visited Iqaluit, Nunavut, I did see one jogger puffing along downtown. Temperature during on that early January day, would have been at least -18 C. The next morning the weather flipped to -50 C with howling blizzard winds of 180 km/hr. At that time, there was only one 30 kms. road out of town for cycling or car driving from Iqaluit. Northern House brought back memories of my short stay in Iqaluit. Nunavut’s capital is tiny –population of 5,000 but in a tiny isolated city, there was more art work thoughtfully displayed permanently there than what one would normally see in many southern Canadian towns of similar size.
Arctic memories frozen in the lively ‘Northern Games at Olympic Games’ exhibit. Art and sport inspired and executed in spirit within a harsh and demanding environment.