Monday, February 28, 2005

Dog Sled Racing, Part 1

This week was the world championship dog sled races as part of Fur Rondy. Since Frank and I spent last weekend seeing the Women's championship, it just wet our appetite for this race! Whereas the women's championship was on Tozier Track in Muldoon, this race was run downtown. Basically trucks brought snow in from the snow removal sites around town and dumped it on streets to create a trail. The trail started downtown, then came down Cordova street, and then eventually onto the trail system towards Bicentennial Park (Campbell Airstrip). All of this was done completely in town!

After careful contemplation, we chose the Cordova hill as our race viewing destination. Like any hill in any race, this was likely to be the best place to see the race happening. We weren't the only ones -- we also met a photographer who used to work for eBay, quit, and now takes photographs in Alaska. She'd also picked this as the best place to watch the race.

Sure enough, the sleds started barrelling down the hill. For the last day of competition, the sleds are sent out in reverse order, meaning there is lots of passing going on in the race.

As you can see below, number 10 had some difficulty after the hill and took a hard "gee" (that's right -- Haw is left I think). When dogs get tangled, it's a big problem, and it took a bit to get them straightened out. It's not as bad as on Saturday, when one enthusiastic dog chewed through the main line and 12 dogs ran towards the finish line sans driver! You see, you might think the drivers drive the dogs, but really I think the dogs are mostly in charge, and the drivers are just in for the ride :).

Anyways, after the teams went through the first time, we travelled up the hill a bit. But it took about 1:40 mins for the dogs to start coming through again -- we heard there was a moose (maybe it was Fred?) on Gambell street potentially causing problems, but it really was just a few teams got tangled up.

When they did come through, it was exciting! We saw three teams pass one, because one of the wheel dogs decided to take a nap (you can see it below). I do have to say, Ellis' team was unbeatable up that hill! Definitely the fastest one in the group this time!

Ellis' won by five minutes which is really impressive in a sprint race. Read about it here.

Frank's ready to play ball...when it's springtime

A dog race starts with a snowmachine..

Team 1 on the trail...

Team 1 looks good

Team 2!

Team 3 on the trail...

The dogs are so happy...

Aren't these beautiful dogs???

Team 3

Team 5

The trail guy's making sure the dogs don't turn at the road...

Team 6 on the trail!

Musher 7

These dogs are running fast down the hill!

This guy looks very much in control...

Musher 9

Whoops, this team gee-d off the course right in front of us!

Wow, now what's happening???

The dogs are tangled up, but are eager to get on the trail...

This dog's a bit tangled up...

Here's team 10

Team 11 is on the course

Look how FAST these dogs are running down the hill!

Musher 12

These dogs are happy to get started today!

Musher #13

Egil's coming down the hill

The hill without any dogs on it...they should be coming any time now...

Frank poses at the Cordova hill

The lead dogs look at each other...another hill???

This guy only has nine dogs left in the race (you can't replenish dogs)

These dogs are hot! It was a very hot day for a sled dog.

Here's another team!

Power stepping up the hill

These dogs try to tip over their driver

One dog decides he's tired (who can blame him?)

Two sleds passing another!

This guy's wheel dog decided to take a break

Egils running up with his dogs

These dogs are pulling hard!

Another guy having a lot of fun on the way back from the woods...

Look how tired these dogs are!

Dogs love to run!

This lady looks like she is having fun...

It takes a lot just to run up this hill

Another picture of #10

"Come on Tigger!" shouted this musher

A picture of how steep it was up the hill towards town

It's legal to run alongside the sled like this guy...

Egil Ellis powering up Cordova Hill