Nicole Johnson’s passion for Inuit games started in fifth grade when she learned how to do the Two-Foot High Kick after church in a youth program. Inuit games are games that were played to build the survival skills Indigenous people of the North played to develop the skills need for everyday survival and just for fun.
In seventh grade, Nicole entered her first competition at the 1982 Native Youth Olympics (NYO), taking first place in the Two-Foot High Kick. She continued to compete through high school, at NYO, the World Eskimo Indian Olympics (WEIO), and the Arctic Winter Games (AWG).
After high school she continued to compete until 2004, over the years winning over 100 medals, earning the outstanding athlete award, and sportsmanship award, at various competitions. She has set records in several events over the years, setting her first record in the Two-Foot High Kick at the 1985 NYO and continued to break her record until the 1989 WEIO, kicking 6’6”. This record held for 25 years. Her record in the Two-Foot High Kick at AWG, still holds at 6’5”.
In 2017, Nicole was inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, as an athlete and ambassador to Native Games. Nicole is the former chairwoman of WEIO, and current President of AWG Team Alaska. Nicole currently works with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, coaching youth, training officials, assists with organizing the statewide Native Youth Olympics competitions, and acting as the head official for many different competitions.
Her passion for the Inuit games continues by sharing and preserving the rich history and culture of these sports through coaching, instruction at schools, throughout Alaska, the lower 48, and the Yukon territories.
Photo: Cook Inlet Tribal Council