Nome’s Parker Kenick returns from WEIO with gold
Several Nomeites attended last week’s World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in Fairbanks and Parker Kenick, an athlete who recently graduated Nome-Beltz High School, came home with a gold medal.
The games convened last Wednesday, July 13, with the toe kick as the first event. Kenick placed first with a 60-inch kick. Jens Ireland, also of Nome, placed second.
This was the first time Kenick attended the WEIO games, which have been held in Fairbanks annually since 1961 to showcase Alaska Native sports and culture. Kenick said the competition was physically quite exhausting. After the first of four days, he was pushing through a lot of soreness to compete in events. He didn’t take home any other medals, but he was fascinated to watch other athletes, pick up new tips and even try out new games.
“I was getting a lot of good tips because it's WEIO and you’ve got the best of the best there,” Kenick said.
For example, he said he often has trouble getting his hips high during the Alaskan High Kick, but at WEIO he found some new techniques for training, mostly involving ways to get comfortable being upside down. He said he saw the other competitors doing handstands against the wall, looking up while doing handstands, then trying to balance on one arm against the wall.
Kenick said he got to work on new events, like the One-Foot High Kick in the Alaskan style. “You have to jump off one foot instead of two feet,” he explained. “It’s a funny feeling to be having to learn again.”
He also tried the swing kick, in which an athlete kicks a suspended ball from a difficult position: balanced on both hands with a belt looped around the neck and knees as their legs are extended out.
“I didn't do too well on that, but it was still really fun trying to figure that out,” Kenick said.