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.