Mushers drop out of Games

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2006

Poor winter weather conditions on the Kenai Peninsula and beyond are causing dark clouds to loom on the horizon for at least one Arctic Winter Games event.

Mitch Michaud, mushing coordinator for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games on the Kenai Peninsula, confirmed that two teams recently pulled out.

Michaud said dog mushing teams from Team Alberta North and Team Nunavat will not make it to the Games.

“Alberta said they had poor training conditions where they’re from and Nunavat cited lack of snow for training and lack of money,” Michaud said.

At least two other teams backed out as many as six months ago due to logistical problems with flying dogs to Alaska.

“This leaves three teams that will be competing — Team Alaska, Team Yukon and Team Northwest Territory, and each of these teams will be bringing four dog teams,” Michaud said.

Michaud said the show will go on despite this hurdle in team numbers.

“It’s a setback because we’re set up to have them, and it would be great to have them. The more people that participate, the more fun it is, but the race will still go on,” he said.

The reduced number of competitors shouldn’t make anyone think it will mean easy medals for those who do compete.

“There is no guarantee everyone will get a medal. Since there are two racers from each (participating) country in each race, one country could still get two medals in one race,” he said. This would leave only one medal among four racers.

According to Michaud, the lower number of competitors won’t affect ticket prices for mushing events.

“It’s the only free event in the Games,” he said.

The mushing events for the Games are scheduled for March 7 through 9, with two races a day, the first at 10 a.m. and the second at noon.

Races include a four-dog, 7.5-kilometer juvenile race; a five-dog, 10-kilometer juvenile race; a six-dog, 10-kilometer junior race; a seven-dog, 13-kilometer junior race; a four-dog, 7.5-kilometer combined team juvenile race; and a six-dog, 10-kilometer junior combined team race.

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