The 21st Century
An excerpt from the Kearney Winterfest Program year 2000.
A Glimpse At The Sport.
Origin: Sled dog racing is one of North America’s oldest winter sports. The Eskimos and Indians who inhabit the northern regions of the North American continent have always been associated with and dependent upon man’s best friend. Their dogs have played a leading role in their life and economy by providing faithful companionship, assisting in the hunt and more importantly, by being the sole means of transportation during the long winter season.
History: The records of formal racing events date back to 1908 with the running of the first “All Alaska Sweepstakes”, a distance of 408 miles from Nome to Candle and back. The winning time was 119 hours, 15 minutes and 12 seconds.
One of the most incredible events of the era was the hastily organized relay of native and mail teams to carry lifesaving serum from Anchorage to the diphtheria stricken village of Nome in the year 1925.
Today: The dog team as a means of transportation is rapidly disappearing from the north. It is being replaced by aircraft and snowmobiles. However, even today, dog teams have been used in emergency situations when severe winter weather conditions rendered all other forms of transportation useless. The dogs’ traditional skills and athletic abilities are fostered through the sporting events that take place on the North American continent and in Europe.
Sled dog racing has developed into a popular international winter sports contest. Significant races are being held throughout Alaska, Canada, and the northern United States as well as Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
Later this week I will touch more on the historic ‘serum race’ to Nome. Until then, Happy New Years to All and best wishes for 2014. ~TR