ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Lars Flora, two-time Olympian and executive director and founder of NANANordic, is one of three U.S. representatives chosen to participate in the International Olympic Academy (IOA) from June 11 – 25, 2013, in Athens and Olympia, Greece. The other two are U.S. Olympic Committee staffers.
The IOA’s goal is to educate and motivate young people to use their experiences and knowledge gained from the session productively in promoting the Olympic ideas and educating others in their own countries. Flora will present NANANordic to the 200 participants from around the globe taking part in this year’s event.
“This has been an amazing journey,” said Flora. “We’ve introduced nearly 2,000 children in Northwest Alaska to Nordic skiing, giving them another winter recreation opportunity in a region where there’s snow on the ground eight months out of the year. This is just the beginning. Timing for the conference is great – we’re in the planning stages for our third season now. I’m looking forward to hearing ideas that will help NANANordic become even more successful.”
NANANordic was formed to introduce the lifetime sport of cross-country skiing to rural Alaska through a sustainable Nordic ski program, starting with villages in the NANA region. Two-time Olympian Lars Flora brought the idea to NANA Development Corporation in 2011. Funded by corporate and individual donations, Flora and 20 volunteers, in cooperation with the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, provided a month of cross-country ski instruction to 650 students in Kotzebue, Kiana, Selawik and Noorvik in 2012. This year, approximately 2,000 children in all NANA region villages, as well as Anaktuvuk Pass, had an opportunity to learn to cross-country ski from more than 45 volunteers consisting of Olympians, World Cup athletes, University and college coaches and elite high school athletes.