A participant in one-foot high kick at the 2023 Traditional Games Championships. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
Yellowknife’s Sir John Franklin High School hosted Traditional Games Championships among 20 of the NWT’s schools over three days.
Teams compete in hand games, snow snake, wrist hang, stick pull, arm pull, pole push, one-foot high kick and two-foot high kick over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Students aged 10 to 12 from schools across the territory came to Yellowknife to compete, with performances in each event counting toward an overall score for each school.
Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT, which organizes the championships, says the contest is designed to increase the number of people participating in traditional games, help athletes with an interest in the events reach a higher level, and involve as many communities as possible.
We stopped in on Sunday’s one-foot high kick finals to capture some of the action.
The Aboriginal Sports Circle technical guide for one-foot high kick describes it as “an Inuit game of agility that develops an individual’s strength, quickness and body control.”
“Hunters had to be quiet, fast, and agile to have successful hunts to provide for their families,” the guide continues. “For example, sneaking up on animals required the hunters to be quick on their feet, making as little noise as possible.
“The one-foot high kick is one of the most exciting Northern Games events. During competition, participants would challenge each other to see who could land the quietest while landing on their kicking foot to showcase their technical skills.”
In a one-foot high kick contest, you can attempt to kick the target from a standing start, with a walking approach or at a run.
When you take off, both feet must be no more than shoulder-width apart. Officials looking on need to see you clearly strike the target with one foot, and your landing must be on the same foot that you used to kick the target.
Your landing has to be balanced and controlled, or your attempt won’t count. To show this, officials will watch for you to either hop three times on your landing foot or hold your balance for three or more seconds.
Each competitor gets three attempts at each height.
If you haven’t been able to strike the target and land cleanly in three attempts, that’s where your competition ends.
If you successfully hit the target and stick your landing, you move on to the next height. Officials incrementally move the target higher as the competition goes on.
Aboriginal Sports Circle NWT keeps Traditional Games Championships records for each discipline.
In one-foot high kick, going into this year’s championships, the male record was held by Mildred Hall’s Jason Nguyen, who set a record of six feet and four inches in 2015.
The female record was held by William McDonald School’s Taylor Sorenson, who kicked five feet and six inches in 2016.