Sled-dog race ends here |

Sled-dog race ends here

by Jen Watkins, Of the Record staff

Recent snowstorms may have caused havoc for Sundance goers and halfpipe competitors, but snow was exactly what another group needed before heading to Park City.

The 15th annual International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race will slide into Park City on Feb. 6 for the final portion of the seven-day race. The race, which starts in Jackson, Wyo., is known as the dog-friendly race, according to race spokesperson Darla Worden. Because it is a stage race, the dogs will rest each night at the end of each of the seven stages, she said.

On the seventh day, Park City will host "Meet the Mushers" from 10 a.m. to noon at the Park City Ice Arena parking lot where free hot chocolate will be served, according to Bob Kollar, director of special events for the Park City Chamber/Bureau. The racers will then leave one at a time in 3-5 minutes increments and cover almost 10 miles, Kollar said. They will take one lap around the fields at the Ice Arena, make a loop on the Round Valley trails and end back at the Ice Arena parking lot.

From 2 to 3 p.m., children from Summit County who have been paired with professional mushers will participate in the Junior Musher Sled Dog Race, which will consist of a shorter version of the professional race. To end the day’s festivities, an awards banquet will be held at 6 p.m. at The Yarrow Hotel.

Worden said the mushers are excited to come to Park City each year because of the enthusiasm of the spectators and large number of people who come out to watch the race.

"The people of Park City have been so receptive," she said. "(There are) a lot of dog lovers (in Park City).You can see everything so well from Quinn’s Junction. It’s the perfect location to accommodate spectators. And the mushers really like coming there for the finish. It’s fun for the teams to cross the finish line with all the crowd cheering."

Worden said spectators may be surprised when they see the sled teams in person.

"Most people get their impression of mushing from Disney movies," she said. "(They think it’s) these big fluffy dogs and that isn’t real sled dogs that race. They look more like greyhounds, almost."

She said the mushers pick their own breed of dogs and each has a different idea of what breed makes a better sled dog. However, she said all the dogs, regardless of breed, will have two things in common: they love to run and they run fast.

"They are born to run," she said. "But they’re probably going to be smaller with shorter hair than (people) are used to or might expect to see."

Worden said they had to limit the race this year to 20 teams and were booked in June. She said this particular race attracts a lot of international mushers.

"This year mushers are from Scotland, British Columbia, Canada and (the U.S.)," she said. "Top mushers come to this race."

The mushers can run up to 12 dogs, but will use less when they don’t need to go as fast, she said. The musher’s "hammer," a person who assists the musher with the dogs, will meet them at the end of each stage and transport the unused dogs in a truck. Worden said veterinarians are always on hand to check the condition of each of the dogs.

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