Good snow leads to successful sled dog races
The excited yips of dozens of dogs ready to mush filled the crisp mountain air Saturday and Sunday at the Deer Mountain Snowmobile Park off of Highway 97.
Thanks to favorable weather and good snow conditions, this year's Siskiyou Sled Dog Races were successful and well attended, said one of the event's organizers, Lisa Campbell.
Nineteen competitors participated in six divisions over the weekend, from mushers with teams of 12 dogs to skijorers who are pulled on skis by one or two dogs.
For 37 year-old skijorer Geneva Lyon of Mount Hood, Ore., the sport casts a particularly strong spell.
"This is the best thing I've ever done with my life," said Lyon. "I always felt like a black sheep until I found this."
Lyon, an artist who grew up in Grants Pass, Ore., said she enjoys the peace and solitude of being out with the dogs. On the other hand, Lyon said she loves the other mushers she meets, who are "incredibly passionate, beautiful, great people."
This was Lyon's first year competing at the Siskiyou Sled Dog Races, though she is an experienced skijorer and is racing in a circuit that includes events in Washington and Oregon. She was racing this weekend with her own dog, Lolo, and Lolo's littermate, Biga, who belongs to a friend.
Lyon finished the two day course in one hour, 23 minutes and took first place in the skijor division.
Fourteen year-old Tanner Boone of Medford, Ore. has been dog sled racing since the third grade. He comes from a family of mushers.
"It's a lot of fun being around the dogs and the people," said Boone, who raced the four dog, 5-mile sprint with a team of dogs owned by coach Hugo Antonucci. Boone won the race with more than 19 minutes separating him and the second place finisher.
In the future, Boone said he'd like to be a professional musher and can see himself trying the Iditarod one day.
"It's a dream," Boone said.
One person who can say they've lived that dream is three-time Iditarod veteran Terry Hinesly of Prospect, Ore. Now a race marshal, Hinesly stopped at the Siskiyou Sled Dog Races to surprise his friend, local musher Pat Campbell before catching a plane to Russia, where he will officiate the North Hope race.
Officiating the Siskiyou Sled Dog Races this year were Allan and Sandi Iverson of Medford, Ore. Mushers from all around California, Oregon and Nevada participated in the races.
The Siskiyou Sled Dog Races have been locally organized since 2007, said Lisa Campbell. However, the races were cancelled the past two years because of unfavorable snow conditions.
Campbell thanked the countless volunteers who make the event possible. Because of "iffy" conditions which can force the event's cancellation, it can be difficult to find sponsors, Campbell said. Therefore, the SSDSA depends on fundraising events including Contra Dances and seminars.
One such volunteer is Sara Borok of Eureka, who travels to Siskiyou County to provide music for the SSDSA's Contra Dances. She also competed in this year's races, running the four dog sprint with her own pooch, Karma, and three other dogs she "borrowed" from a friend. This was her first experience with a four-dog team, though Borok is an experience skijorer.
Campbell also thanked the Weed/Lake Shastina Kiwanis for their support selling warm food and beverages at the weekend's races.
"They believe in what we're doing, growing the sport for people like Tanner," said Campbell.
For a full list of race results, visit http://siskiyousleddograces.com/