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Photos: Three days of competition and celebration at Native Youth Olympics

NYO official Howard Sparrow measures the height of the sealskin ball for the one foot high kick. April 27, 2013
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Competitors in the one foot high kick preliminary rounds at NYO day 3. April 27, 2013
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Ellis Tikluk from Kaktovik competes in the one foot high kick. April 27, 2013
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Ivory Okleasik from Nome competing in the one foot high kick. April 27, 2013
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Will Byrd, from the Mat-Su A team, competing in the one foot high kick finals. April 27, 2013
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Stuart Towarak gets a pep talk from Big Bob Aiken, before his attempt at tying the NYO record for one foot high kick. April 27, 2013
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Stuart Towarak ties the NYO one foot high kick record of 114 inches. April 27, 2013
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Stuart Towarak hugs his older sister Barbara Towarak after tying the NYO one foot high kick record of 114 inches. April 27, 2013
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Renee Romer competes in the seal hop. April 27, 2013
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Raven Phillips, from Aniak, collapes after competing in the seal hop. April 27, 2013
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Kacey Gage, from Wasilla, competing in the seal hop. April 27, 2013
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NYO competitors dance with the Imamsuat Dance Group during the closing ceremonies of the 2013 games. April 27, 2013
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Nicolas Devens, right, from Valdez coaches fellow competitor Ethan Agli, from Naknek, in the toe kick. April 26, 2013
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Ryan Baker, from Tyonek, competes in the toe kick. April 26, 2013
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Simone Pushruk competes in the toe kick during the second day of NYO. April 26, 2013
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Taeler Brunette, from Nome, competing in the toe kick. April 26, 2013
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Judge Jon Warren watches a competitor in the toe kick. April 26, 2013
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Spectators watch the girls toe kick. April 26, 2013
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Steven Ugale of Unalaska attempts 98" in the toe kick. He earlier broke the 33-year-old world record of 92". April 26, 2013
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Steven Ugale of Unalaska broke the 33-year-old toe kick world record of 92". April 26, 2013
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Vance Gregory, originally from Galena and attending Mt. Edgecumbe high school in Sitka, competing in the one hand reach. April 26, 2013
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Jocelyn Snyder, from Kwigillingok, competing in the one hand reach. April 26, 2013
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Terell Caldwell, from Nome, competing in the two foot high kick. April 26, 2013
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Ethan Hadley, from Buckland, competing in the two foot high kick. April 26, 2013
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Athletes dance during the opening ceremonies of the Native Youth Olympics. The games are both an athletic event and a celebration of native culture. April 25, 2013
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Athletes dance during the opening ceremonies of the Native Youth Olympics. The games are both an athletic event and a celebration of native culture. April 25, 2013
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An athlete competes in the kneel jump during the first day of the Native Youth Olympics (NYO). April 25, 2013
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NYO volunteers demonstrate the ear pull, a traditional Native Alaskan game that isn't part of NYO. April 25, 2013
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A constant struggles to hang on during the wrist carry at NYO. April 25, 2013
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A constant struggles to hang on during the wrist carry at NYO. April 25, 2013
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Winners in the girl's wrist carry are all smiles during the awards ceremony. With them are their carriers. April 25, 2013
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Kids practice the one-hand reach on the sidelines of the NYO main event. April 25, 2013
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Kids practice the one-hand reach on the sidelines of the NYO main event. April 25, 2013
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Spectators and fellow contestants cheer on their friends during an awards ceremony during the first day of NYO. April 25, 2013
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A contestant in the Alaskan high kick steadies the sealskin ball before trying his kick. April 25, 2013
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A finalist competes in the boys Alaskan high kick. April 25, 2013
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Breaking a 33-year-old record is never easy, and breaking it in an event as difficult as the toe kick at the Native Youth Olympics may be even tougher. But on Friday afternoon, Steven Ugale of Unalaska shattered the NYO record -- and the world record -- with his 8-foot (96-inch) effort, shattering the old mark held by George Curran by a full 4 inches.

In the toe kick, contestants begin by leap forward and kicking back an inch-wide stick.  After that, competitors must kick with both feet and land with both feet ahead of where the stick is placed.  After each round, the stick is moved forward 2 inches as more and more competitors become eliminated. Each person gets three attempts at the distance. The competition evolved as a way to mimic a survival method of moving across ice that’s breaking up in springtime.

Clearly, Ungale is rounding into superb form. Earlier this month, he won the one-foot high kick at the Bethel Native Youth Olympics with a 9-foot (103 inches) leap. Ungale’s toe kick at the same competition was 88 inches, or 8 inches shorter than his effort Friday.

More than 500 student athletes from communities of all sizes across Alaska are demonstrating strength, agility and skill in traditional Native games, including the stick pull, seal hop and many more at the 2013 Native Youth Olympics at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage.

The NYO Games began on Thursday with the wrist carry (a grueling endurance test), plus the kneel jump and the Alaskan high kick (both supreme agility tests), leading off the slate of events.

The competition is open to all Alaskans in grades 7-12 to help foster teamwork, leadership, cross-cultural understanding and respect.

Highlights of the games include the Opening Ceremonies with the 2013 Grand Entry of Teams, daily dance and other performances, the annual Pilot Bread Recipe Contest and the 2013 Opportunities Expo featuring resources that help prepare young athletes for future success.

The games continue until Saturday, April 27, and the events are free to attend. Get the full schedule and other information online.