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Sterling youth cinches spot on AWG Team Alaska

Posted: Monday, November 21, 2005

 

  Shane Strausbaugh of Sterling leaves the starting line during a Peninsula Sled Dog Racing Association competition last season, Straughsbaugh is one of four young athletes who will represent Team Alaska in the dog mushing event in the 2006 Arctic Winter Games in March. Photo by Joseph Robertia

Shane Strausbaugh of Sterling leaves the starting line during a Peninsula Sled Dog Racing Association competition last season, Straughsbaugh is one of four young athletes who will represent Team Alaska in the dog mushing event in the 2006 Arctic Winter Games in March.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

Team Alaska has announced the selection of the dog mushing team for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games, and one of them is a Kenai Peninsula youth.

Shane Strausbaugh, 17, of Sterling is one of four young athletes — two juniors and two juveniles — who will be going for the gold with his team of canine companions.

“I’m very happy to be chosen to represent Team Alaska. It’s very exciting,” Strausbaugh said.

Strausbaugh, who is coached by his dad, Kurt Strausbaugh, will be competing in the junior age group and is a rookie to the Games, but he’s no amateur when it comes to driving sled dogs.

He has maintained 10-dog kennel for several years and has raced in many competitions in Chugiak and Fairbanks and at the Peninsula Sled Dog Racing Association’s track in Soldotna, where the mushing for the Games will take place.

Strausbaugh also won the Junior World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage last season, racing in the seven-dog class.

However, he is still humble about competing in the Games.

“This is one of the biggest events I’ve ever competed in, and I’d just like to bring some hometown pride and sportsmanship,” Strausbaugh said.

In addition to Strausbaugh, the other member of the junior age group mushing team is Beth Callis, 16, of North Pole, who competed and won the gold in the 2004 Games in Fort McMurray.

The juvenile age group team will be made up of Hannah Summers, 13, of Anchorage, and Gracie Callis, 12, of North Pole. Summers will be coached by Rex Jones, while Callis, like her sister Beth, will be coached by their mother, Wendy Callis.

Ron Kilian, dog mushing sport coordinator for the Games, said he is pleased with the athletes for this year’s team.

“This is going to be a good bunch of kids that I think will do well this year,” he said.

However, Kilian said the selection wasn’t easy, as they thoroughly reviewed the applicants.

“We looked at their character, background, school academics, race record and how involved they were with the dogs. We wanted kids that didn’t just come from a home where their parents kept sled dogs. We wanted kids that were involved with owning, training and caring for their own dogs,” he said.

According to the Team Alaska Web site (www.2006.teamalaska.org), dog mushing is the first sport to have announced its athletes. Most other sports are still in the process of holding tryouts.

The Team Alaska mushers will be four of roughly 18 kids from around the world competing in the dog mushing event. They, along with their coaches, also will be part of Alaska’s overall 377-person delegation to the 2006 Arctic Winter Games, which will take place March 5 through 11 on the Kenai Peninsula.



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