The countdown is on for young mushers who want a shot at making Team NWT. Dog Sled Racing trials for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) will be held in Fort Providence on December 12 and 13, 2019.
Deh Gah Dog Musher Susan Fleck is helping organize the trials. She says it’s an impressive field of mushers from near and far across the territories.
“We have four juveniles entered, and 7 co-ed juniors under age 19 entered with their dogs. They’re coming from communities near and far, we got a couple from Tuk, a few from Yellowknife, a team from Fort Resolution, and a few from Hay River. So, we have a good representation for the trials,” Fleck told CKLB.
Some recent Team NWT Champions, Alexis Campbell of Yellowknife, TJ Fordy of Hay River, and Kirk Fabien will be helping coaching Team NWT this season.
Fleck adds mushers from the Yukon and Alaska are interested, and may also come to Fort Providence for their mushers to compete and qualify for their respective teams, ahead of the March 15th Whitehorse Arctic Winter Games.
The Whitehorse 2020 Winter Games begin on March 15th. There has been some concerns brewing amongst mushers and coaches after Team Alaska’s participation was questionable for the upcoming games. President of the Thebacha Musher’s Association and longtime CKLB Dog Mushing commentator Sholto Douglas is concerned there is a lack of support for the iconic sport amongst the Arctic Winter Games International Committee.
“This spring when we met with Sports North, we noticed right away that there was no listing for Juvenille and Junior sled dog sports at the 2022 Fort McMurray Winter Games. We haven’t heard anything from the NWT representative who sits at the international level,” Douglas told CKLB on Thursday.
He is concerned the issue may have to be politicized to get support. So far he has the ear of Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson who also sits on the NWt Sled Dog Sports executive.
The future looks bright for the 2020 games, there remains to be questions if mushing will make the cut for the next AWG which will be hosted by Alberta. The sport got bounced from the Nuuk Greenland Arctic Winter Games in 2016.
“There is some great concern, that there’s some sabotage happening,” added Douglas.
The sport is getting some heat from protestors, such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who have been showing up at the “last great race on earth,” Iditarod in Alaska in 2018. Douglas nor Fleck see this or a recent documentary decrying dog sled racing as the reason for the AWG not being clear on the sports future.
For now organizers in Fort Providence wait, and pray for more snow.