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Arctic Winter Games: Saturday, February 4, 2023

Preston Kopp at Medal Podium.jpg
Preston Kopp (far right) at winner's podium, after receiving a bronze medal in the Biathlon Snowshoe competition. Preston spoke with England's Prince William about his Biathlon race, which involves running on snowshoes and hitting targets. Photo courtesy of Arctic Winter Games.

Here’s a link to the current standings to check for updates:

It’s been a fast and furious week for Team Alaska at the Arctic Winter Games in Wood Buffalo Alberta this week.

Alaska athletes have amassed 128 medals in the shape of the iconic curved knife of the North, the ulu.

So far, Team Alaska has 51 gold, 38 silver and 39 bronze ulus.

In the overall standings, Yukon Territories is still in the lead with 150 medals. Alaska is in second place, 22 ulus behind the Yukon. Alberta North is in the top three with 116 ulus.

Colton James Paul of Kipnuk set the record for the most gold medals on Team Alaska. They’re in Arctic Sports for the One and Two Foot High Kick, The Alaska High Kick, the Triple Jump and the Kneel Jump.

On Wednesday, a group of athletes had a chance to visit online with England’s Prince William.

The Prince asked Preston Kopp, 16, from Galena if he won a gold medal in his first biathlon snowshoe sprint, which involves both racing and shooting at targets.

“No. I got third. I got the bronze,” Kopp said.

“Excellent,” responded Prince William. “I can tell you what, if I was shuffling around on snowshoes and shooting some targets, I’d get nowhere near anywhere. I’d be shooting trees with a shotgun in the corner.”

Kopp talked with Prince William about his family’s subsistence lifestyle – and showed him the mukluks he wore with his snowshoes.

Kopp also explained some of the rules for the snowshoe biathlon, which requires that competitors use snowshoes made of all-natural materials and that they wear traditional footwear, either mukluks, mocassins or kamiks.

Kopp proudly showed Prince William his pair of mukluks, made by his father. “This is hide from a moose that we harvested and then got the skin tanned and made into mukluks,” Kopp said, as he held his mukluks up to the laptop camera. “Amazing,” said the Prince.

So far, Kopp won one silver and two bronze medals in the snowshoe biathlon. Kopp’s younger brother Clint, 15, won two bronze ulus. They represent the Galena Hawks.

The Arctic Winter Games conclude on Saturday. Wasilla will be the next host for the Arctic Winter Games in 2024.

Rhonda McBride has a long history of working in both television and radio in Alaska, going back to 1988, when she was news director at KYUK, the public radio and TV stations in Bethel, which broadcast in both the English and Yup’ik languages.