Extend your reach. Hang on tight. Jump high. Those all could be skills any athlete would want to develop for traditional sports, but crawl like a seal? In a demonstration of Native Youth Olympics last Thursday at Homer Middle Schools by Sam Strange and David Thomas of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, students tried out some of the events of the traditional games.
The seal hop looked like something dreamed up by a cruel Marine drill instructor: Push up on your hands and hop like a seal until giving out. The event is based on a practical skill, mimicking the appearance of a seal as a hunter sneaks up on it, Strange said.
Thomas, of Point Hope, pushed his body to the limit demonstrating the one-hand reach. While kneeling and with one hand on the floor, he had to tap a hanging ball. Muscles taut, he balanced on one hand and arm while reaching with the other.
Another event tested Daisy Kettle’s mettle as she held on with her wrist to a stick as Thomas and Strange carried her until she dropped. Students also tried out events like the one-foot high kick and the Indian stick pull, where contestants try to yank a greased, tapered stick while keeping their feet in marked positions.