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Peninsula Games fun way to warm up

Festivities culminate with annual favorites

Posted: Sunday, January 29, 2006

 

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  James Whayne pleads with his dog Harley to pull a little harder during the a dog weight pull contest at the Soldotna Sports Center on Saturday. The event was one of many activities taking place as part of the Peninsula Winter Games. Photos by M. Scott Moon

James Whayne pleads with his dog Harley to pull a little harder during the a dog weight pull contest at the Soldotna Sports Center on Saturday. The event was one of many activities taking place as part of the Peninsula Winter Games.

Photos by M. Scott Moon

Despite frostbite-friendly midday temperatures hovering around 5 degrees, the Soldotna Sports Center’s parking lot was buzzing with arctic activity Saturday.

Hundreds milled around outside participating in various events throughout the day, mostly for the fun of it. Kids and parents tossed frozen salmon as the kick sled races were getting under way. There were snowmachine rides for kids, dogs pulling weighted sleds and a log sawing competition outside, as well.

The logs for that event were 10 inches in diameter, a bit less than the 12- or 14-inch versions often used in serious competitions. According to Bryan Powers, the volunteer manning the log sawing station, a smaller log suited this event just fine.

“(The log saw) is about getting out here and making a fool of yourself,” Powers said. “It’s something you can sit back and laugh at yourself with.”

That’s not to say sawing through a 10-inch log isn’t difficult. It takes two to do an event like this, with one person on either side pulling their end of the saw back and forth. Pulling is the key, apparently.

“You’ve gotta pull,” explained Chris Thomas, who partnered with fellow Skyview student Chris Targonsky for the event. “Pushing it just bends the saw.”

 

Caitlyn Burdick, 5, enjoys the activities under a coating of face paint.

Photos by M. Scott Moon

Thomas doesn’t practice, although he did try it last year.

“It was just for the heck of it — try everything, it’s the Peninsula Winter Games,” he said.

Kasilof’s Lilly Price and Lauden Miller did practice a little. The pair kept their 3-inch thick chunk of wood, which took them 126 seconds to remove from the 10-inch log.

“(The saw) got stuck,” Price said. “It was at the wrong angle and it got pinched.”

One hundred twenty-six seconds is a fairly good time, according to Powers. Many teams clocked in at more than 400 seconds. The best time by 1 p.m. was 53 seconds, which was 20 seconds faster than the next best time. Teamwork — finding a rhythm with your partner — is what really makes the difference, Powers said.

“We had a couple little kids come through here, they must have been 11, 12 years old and they put out a pretty good time. They beat a bunch of people because they were working together.”

Prizes for the log sawing came in the form of medals, although the medals went to anyone, not just winners.

Another “just for fun” version of a popular Alaska sport was the “My Buddy and Me” dog weight pull. In this event, dogs are hooked up to a sled, weighted in this case with boxes of nails, then the dog’s owner stands 25 feet away, calls them, and the dog hauls the load. Time and weight pulled were measured. This is the same way championship pulls go down, too.

Paul Wood, a Saint Bernard breeder visiting from Wasilla, does pull with championship dogs. His dogs took first, second and third place at last year’s World Championship Dog Weight Pull in Anchorage. Wood has patches sewn to his jacket representing Weight Puller, Weight Puller Extraordinaire and Weight Puller Superior, all titles earned from that event.

 

Pete Hansen helps his grandson, Bjorn Nilsson, make progress in the log sawing competition.

Photos by M. Scott Moon

Wood wasn’t out for titles Saturday. The real reason to compete, he said, is to get out of the house and have fun with man’s best friend.

“I make it as much fun as I can for my dogs. I figure if they’re not having fun, there’s no reason to do it. This one will even get mouthy because she’s not pulling,” Woods said while pointing to a dog named Big Bertha.

A Saint Bernard can pull a lot of weight, too. Big Bertha has pulled 1,100 pounds. Another dog Woods owns once pulled 3,200 pounds, crossing the finish line in 20 seconds. As he sees it, weight pulls are the best measure of a Saint Bernard.

“I’ve shown my dogs, but to me the sign of a true Saint Bernard is watching them pull a sled down the road.”



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