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Kicking up some talent

Derek Neary
Northern News Services
Monday, June 18, 2007

CHESTERFIELD INLET - Blair Tautu has learned well from her father, becoming an Inuit Games gold medallist, just like him.

She was the best in the female class at the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse in February, where Inuit Games were a demonstration sport. Her outstanding ability allowed her to capture gold in Alaskan high kick.

It was in Whitehorse in 1986 that her father and Inuit Games coach, Larry Tautu, captured top spot in the same event, Alaskan high kick, at the Arctic Winter Games. Asked if he believed Blair possessed such talent, he laughed warmly and, sounding very pleased, he replied, "Yes, it was all in the plan."

To execute an Alaskan high kick, a competitor, while resting on the floor, grabs one foot and then propels herself into the air, kicking the opposite foot at a suspended target, all the while still supporting herself with her other hand braced on the floor.

"A lot of people find that more difficult than the two-foot high kick and the one-foot high kick," said Blair, a 22-year-old Chesterfield Inlet resident. "I just try my best."

She also won gold in the women's two-foot high kick, a silver in the one-foot high kick and the arm pull at the Canada Winter Games. She finished seventh in the kneel jump and the swing kick.

When she returned from Whitehorse with her bounty, she was heartily congratulated.

"There were lots of people that wanted to see our medals," she said, referring as well to her Chesterfield Inlet teammates, who also met with success.

Blair got started in Inuit Games when she was eight years-old, under Larry's tutelage. The one-foot high kick was the first event she tried, she recalled.

Larry, who learned Inuit Games from Harry Tootoo in the early 1970s, spoke of the benefits of a healthy diet of traditional country foods, which he said provides lots of energy. To keep fit, Blair plays volleyball twice a week, she said. When she's readying for an Inuit Games competition she begins honing her skills three times a week about two months before the event, she explained. She has been gearing up for the Arctic Winter Games trials later this summer.

Proving that Inuit Games know-how runs in the family, Larry's younger brother, James Tautu, was the gold medallist in the men's kneel jump and claimed silver in the two-foot high kick at the Canada Winter Games.

A lot of people in Chesterfield Inlet are masterful Inuit Games competitors, but it's usually the young kids that engage in the games as a frequent pastime, Blair said.

For the past year she has been working at the Naja Isabel home for the disabled, which poses a stark contrast for someone who's able-bodied and athletically skilful.

"I just love those kids," she said of residents at the home. "I like helping them."