FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - Family. The word that means home, safety and love. For the people and athletes who compete at the World Eskimo Indian Olympics, that is WEIO at its core. A giant family.
"You rarely see that, in any other sport," 2018 women's ear pull champion Michelle Strange said. " To us, it’s a family reunion, to see friends that we haven’t seen all year, back at the games again, and just catch up where we left off.”
Usually in sporting events, the competition and desire to beat your opponent runs rampant. But WEIO is a different competition altogether.
"It doesn’t matter how good you are or how bad you are," 2018 women's greased pole walk champion Amber Applebee said. "Everyone is going to love you and support you and that’s what matters here."
Whether it's the kneel jump, ear pull, one hand reach or two-foot high kick to name a few, the reason behind WEIO remains the same: this is a family.
“I don’t care about the medals, honestly," 2018 men's greased pole walk champion Ryan Glenzell said. "I care about seeing the people I grew up with, because that's what matters.”
“It’s not something that we take home and say, 'hey, I beat you,' "two-foot high kick champion Casey Ferguson said. "That’s not it, It’s just being around everybody. These guys, when we first came to WEIO, we were acquaintances, and then we became friends, now we’re family. ”
Values extended to everyone, from longstanding competitors to newcomers, the reason everyone comes back is simple.
“Everybody here just seems to be very kind and as if they know me and very welcoming and so it’s a great feeling," 2018 women's kneel jump champion Veronica McDonald said.
The men's kneel jump champion Kyle Worl echoed those statements.
“It's just awesome to see how this is another sport," Worl said. "But that it’s unique in that people may come as teams or they may come as individuals but we’re all the same community.”