Friday, September 28, 2018

Weekly Mushing News Round Up (Sept 28)

Where did September go?! We're in the last couple of days of the month and then we'll be in full on Halloween mode! Termination dust has been reported on the mountains of South Central Alaska, which means we're only weeks away from the first real snow of the season. How is this even possible?! Time for the clock to slow down a smidge! Before we know it the racing season will be underway... okay, well, we still have about 3 months before we need to worry about that...

The Yukon Quest and Iditarod saw their rosters grow by one name (each) this week. Iditarod has until December to finalize their roster and numbers. They are still well below their average, whereas the Yukon Quest is looking at a stable number that is slowly climbing and it could be one of their largest rosters ever.

Ryan Redington shared a photo of a recent training run.

Apparently, Denmark has a new law that directly affects the mushing community in that country. I am still looking into it, but considering most of what I've found is not in English, it's hard to figure out just what the law is. It sounds like they are blocking teams from running near any "established road" but it's loosely worded so that basically anywhere is considered "near a road". It makes training and races nearly impossible - or so some of their mushers are saying.

Brent Sass also shared a photo of a recent training run, and it looks magical.

New England fans have a chance to bring their pups out to an event next weekend to learn about pulling/mushing sports and have a chance to listen to a few Iditarod veterans give talks. The New England Sled Dog Trade and Seminars event spans the course of two days and is a way to keep sled dogs active as well as educate others on the sports and the different ways you can be active with your pup. Your dog(s) does not have to be a husky to be welcome to participate, just has to have an inclination to pull. Guest Speakers are Justin and Jaime High, and Bruce Magnusson.

Pretty slow news week. There are a lot of training posts as well as the "please sponsor us" posts on social media. There were also a lot of dryland mushing events held last weekend around Alaska (and probably elsewhere).

Friday, September 21, 2018

Weekly Mushing News Round Up (Sept 21)

Martin Buser and team at the ReStart of the 46th running of the Iditarod.
March 4, 2018 - Willow, Alaska.
Just going to share a few fun items today as well as some movie news - there is now a website (that I'm not involved with) that is working on "mushing news" and it's run by someone a little more dialed into the politics of the sport than I am. I don't want to step on toes, but I'll continue to do the round up of social media finds and big news.

If you've been around the Iditarod mushing scene for any length of time you know that the mushers all typically get along even when there are fierce rivalries and intense differences of opinion. Dogs, though, bring all of these personalities together and they get along more than they don't. Two old dogs who have rival kennels and tour businesses seem to have a lot of fun at each other's expense. Jeff King and Mitch Seavey shared a good laugh this week.

Yukon Quest champion Matt Hall shared some puppy sweetness on facebook today. Who wants to cuddle? I volunteer as tribute!

Squid Acres took to the interwebs to find a handler, interested in working with one of the top female mushers in the sport right now? Head on over and apply. (This is not an endorsement, simply informational.)

The Kusko 300 is doing something right when it comes to filling its purse for the race. They announced their breakdown online for their three race classes, a full breakdown will be available closer to race time. The numbers are impressive considering the Iditarod can't seem to keep the numbers steady... unless you count the steady decline. Iditarod powers that be have blamed loss of sponsors and monies on the animal rights groups, but other races seem to be thriving and get just as much flack from the terror groups. Just an interesting observation.

The Finnmarkslopet has opened up registration for all of its race classes. So far 57 teams total will run the 500, 1200, and junior races. No Americans or Canadians appear on the roster, and of the 57 teams that are signed up, 30 of them are rookies. There's still time to enter, and with Dallas Seavey having had such a good time in this year's race, it wouldn't be surprising to see another team try their luck. Seavey said after the race this year that he would be back, but that they'd probably not be able to make the trek back so soon. Seavey is not signed up for Iditarod which runs during the same time frame, and has not really spoken publicly of his race plans for the coming season. His name has yet to appear on any roster in Alaska.

Dallas Seavey has racked up a few airmiles lately, having made several trips over to Norway to give talks and run dogs over the summer and fall. He finished up an event earlier this month with current Iditarod Champion Joar Liefseth Ulsom that apparently was well received. If you attended, comment below and let me know how it went.

I found out about a neat opportunity for troubled youth in the Fairbanks area. Had no idea that this organization existed. I wish there was a program down on the Peninsula. Our kids could really use something like this.

Lisbet Norris' kennel had a great training run today. Gotta love those happy, muddy faces.

Iditarod rookie (come March) Blair Braverman came up with a brilliant grading system on sled dog softness this week. She graded most of her dogs in her dog yard. It's very scientific. If you have time, read her twitter thread on the subject (or even if you just like pictures of happy sled dogs, she's got lots).

Last, but not least, Disney is currently in production for a new film about Leonhard Seppala and Togo and the story of the Serum Run. Willem Dafoe stars as Seppala. It's currently filming in Alberta, Canada (cheaper than coming to Alaska now that we no longer have tax incentives for Hollywood big budget movies, don't get me started). Martin Buser announced via facebook this week that he has been called upon to be the expert on set. His race team will be brought to him later this year so that he can continue to train for Iditarod 2019. He does not, at this time, plan to not run the 47th running of the Last Great Race. The movie is set to premiere on Disney's new streaming service they plan to have up and running next year. The movie does not have a release date yet. Here's hoping this is better than Spielberg/Dreamworks' animated film Balto which had so many historical inaccuracies it makes you cry. Then again, Disney did no better around the same time with their version of Pocahontas' history, so... we'll have to wait and see which version of Togo we get.

And that's a basic rundown of what was interesting in the world of mushing this week. Let me know what you think about this and whatever else is on your mind by leaving a comment or two.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Weekly Mushing News Round Up (Sept 14)

Jeff King smiles at the start of the 2012 Tustumena 200.
South Central Alaska continues its odd fall pattern of bright sun and warm weather. I'm not complaining, after a rainy summer it feels like we're owed a dry fall. Everyone is taking advantage of the decent weather. I'm currently house sitting in Kasilof which is prime sled dog country on the Kenai Peninsula. There are several dog yards close by and I can hear them in the early mornings and late evenings. I'd go stalk them, but I am trying very hard to not be a stalker.

Fall means the start of school, frost, colder weather, pumpkin spice... and politics. And, as we all know, you can't escape politics no matter what you're paying attention to. Sports used to be an escape, but it's bled over. Politics in the sports themselves (no this isn't another update on any Iditarod mess) is one thing, but now more than ever athletes are becoming outspoken on national politics. It's their right and I support anyone who takes the time, researches, and takes a stand - even if I don't agree. This week Jeff King somehow shocked part of the mushing fanbase when he took to a public event to call on Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski to oppose the President's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. King flew down the week prior to meet with Murkowski in DC along with others to voice their concerns in person. Murkowski has not declared where she stands on the issue (though a quick look at her track record can show that King and crew really don't have much to worry about).

King's kennel had good news this week as well. Famed dog Zig is mother to a large brood of newborn pups! They shared an update this week on facebook on how mom and babies are doing.

Another legendary Iditarod Kennel - Susan Butcher's Trail Breaker Kennel - shared a cute puppy photo this week as well. Some repairs to the puppy pen were made, and they had the sweetest supervisors one could ever hope to have.

While we're on the subject of Iditarod - the roster is now up to 35 names with the latest entry of Robert Redington. Redington is the youngest grandson of Joe Redington Sr. - the "Father of the Iditarod".

Keeping with the legends theme, two artistic legends tied to mushing and the Iditarod are teaming up again on another art project! Photographer Jeff Schultz - the official photog of the Last Great Race, as well as a top Alaskan photograher - and Jon Van Zyle - official artist of the Iditarod who is also a musher and has run the race - have collaborated and are working on another painting that sets on a photograph. Think Walt Disney's Mary Poppins where hand drawn animation was put onto live action film. Same basic idea. The duo's first collaboration happened last year as a way to raise funds to support Jeff's son's recovery from a Traumatic Brain Injury he suffered during a fire fighting training exercise.

Iditarod finisher Lisbet Norris has a "I am Woman hear me Roar!" themed winter dog sled adventure available for booking if you're so inclined. It's not really news, but I don't get a kick back for recommending it. It sounds like an interesting tour, though, so if you're able - check it out.

The Pedigree Stage Stop Race posted on social media information on their race director. Always good to put a face with a name and learn a bit about the people in charge of a race.

Kristy Berington had a magical training run this week. Like I said, this fall weather has been amazing. The Kenai doesn't have THAT many leaves on the ground, though. Winter looks like it'll hit the MatSu area well before it hits down here.

Another post from Trail Breaker Kennel that was so heart warming - seeing a retired sled dog have a moment of bliss and energy as they ran free. You can retire the sled dog from running, but you can't retire the running out of the sled dog.

Smokin' Aces Kennel - run by 2017 Yukon Quest Champion Matt Hall - shared this keeper of a pic today. TGIF is right, I had a very relaxing day myself.

Jeff Deeter's kennel Black Spruce Sled Dogs shared what they've been up to and how their fall is shaping up. Lots of work before the snow flies and the training runs get longer. I'm tired just reading it. Guess I'll wrap things up and get to bed!

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Friday, September 7, 2018

Weekly Mushing News Round Up (Sept 7)

Happy September! It's more or less officially fall in Alaska, and that means it's training season. I know, I know, I keep saying it, but it's for realsies now. All kennels on social media have reported their first few runs of the season. It's still getting up into the 60s by midday, but that just means early mornings and late nights for the teams. Then off to work for the humans before back to training when they get home. Mushers. Never. Sleep. The weirdos.

Mary Helwig once again shared a bit of joy from her kennel. If you're familiar at all with the sled dog breeds you know that they're great singers. In my opinion very little else sounds as beautiful as a dog yard coming together in a contented howl after a feeding. And there's very little as sad a sound as the howl of a dog yard where one team of dogs has gone off on adventure and the dogs not hooked to the sled mourn that they were not chosen for the trip.

Mitch Seavey came out of hiding this week posting several photos to facebook before ultimately announcing that he was officially signed up for Iditarod 2019. The three-time Iditarod Champ spoke out repeatedly this summer about how he would not run the 47th Iditarod unless major changes were made to how the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) ran the program. With the addition of several new board members, and the recent resignation of Andy Baker as Board President, Seavey felt there was enough proof that the ITC was listening to musher concerns that he could run. Still, Seavey has been vocal about some of the rule changes for the race, claiming they were overreaching. While no revisions to the rules have been made public, it seems Seavey is satisfied - for now - that the race is headed in the right direction. Seavey also urged fans and mushers to support the race and keep the sport of mushing strong.

Speaking of Iditarod, they managed to obtain a new sponsor after the loss of Jack Daniels earlier this year. The Anchorage Distillery happily announced their sponsorship of the Last Great Race. Apparently mushing and beer are a happy match. Mush/Drink responsibly.

Laura Allaway plans on running the Yukon Quest this year, and has also come out of social media hiding to share a very nice photo of some fall training.

Squid Acres shared a photo of a recent hike with some of their pups. I share merely for the fact that fall colors in Alaska are beautiful.

Cindy Abbott shared her booty haul.

And some info out of Paul Gebhardt's kennel on fall prep and training from one of his handlers. Paul, you may recall, sat out last season due to being diagnosed with Cancer. After an aggressive treatment and stem cell transplant, Paul is on the road to recovery. While he builds up his immune system again Gebhardt cannot do the day to day chores with the dogs, and has hired help. I - as a non-stalker-stalker - have seen him around town as he runs a very successful construction business in the area and he looks great! Here's hoping his health continues to improve and we see him out on the trails again soon.

And that's this week's round up. If I missed anything big, let me know in the comments or on twitter. I don't share everything I find on social media as that would make this too long. It's a snapshot of what's going on. As soon as the snow flies and the races are in swing there will be more print media news to share.