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Speed Skates

Curated Submission
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Circa 1980s
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
48 x 11
Materials & techniques
Leather, laces, metal, thread; Mixed techniques
J. Havekotte
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 2002.008.020
The Arctic Winter Games began in 1970 with the goal to foster cultural activities and athletic skills unique to people living in the northern territories. The event is held every two years, and the host town rotates throughout the circumpolar region, with games held in Canada, Alaska, and Greenland to date. Familiar competitions such as cross-country skiing, hockey, curling, speed skating, and biathlon are complemented by traditional aboriginal games requiring extreme endurance, such as “airplane” and “high kick.” 
The 1984 Arctic Winter Games were hosted by Yellowknife. Although this was the first year that the sport of speed skating was included, Yellowknife was already a proud skating community. These leather Viking-brand speed skates were worn by Yellowknife-born speed skater Glen Skibstad when he won three gold medals and one bronze medal in 1984. From an early age Skibstad was coached by his father on a rough oval rink cleared of snow at the school baseball field. The leather skate guards were handmade by his father, who was a craftsman specializing in woodworking and carpentry.
The oval speed skating rink at the 1984 Arctic Winter Games was located outdoors on Frame Lake in the centre of Yellowknife and required constant clearing from blowing snow. The ice became very hard and slick. While many of the athletes were not used to such conditions and did not sharpen their skates well enough or focus on the technical aspects of the unique track, Skibstad was right at home and “melted the oval” as he sped to victory.
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