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Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon’s season starts with first Twister series race of the winter

The field included 11 mushers and three skijorers
Mandy Johnson and her team head down the trail to start the first DPSAY Twister race of the season on Dec. 15 in Whitehorse. Johnson finished second with a time of 34 minutes and 53 seconds. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

The Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon hosted the first race of its annual Twister race series on Dec. 15 along the Copper Haul Road.

A bluebird day and temperatures that started near -20 C coupled with decent trail conditions made for a good start to the season.

Martin Haefele, president of DPSAY, said things lined up nicely for the 10-mile (16-kilometre) race.

“I think the conditions were quite good,” said Haefele. “The trail was in very good shape. It was nicely packed, not icy, so it was quite good. … Obviously we all wish for a little bit more snow, but it certainly did the trick.”

This year’s field included 11 mushers in the dog sled category and three skiers in the skijor category.

The winner of the sled category was Armin Johnson who finished in 32 minutes and 56 seconds, with Mandy Johnson finishing second in 34 minutes and 53 seconds. Rounding out the podium was Martine LeLevier with a time of 35 minutes and 33 seconds.

Cynthia Corriveau won the skijor category with a time of 50 minutes and 25 seconds, while Jackie Taylor was second in 53 minutes and eight seconds and Joshua Lesage was third in 56 minutes and 52 seconds.

The race did have a rather interesting scenario play out as one of the mushers fell from her sled and her team continued on down the trail unaccompanied until some passing cyclists were able to get it stopped.

“She had a little technical difficulties and fell off the sled,” said Haefele. “So another musher went after the team. (The team) even managed to go on a bit of a walkabout down the Copper Haul Road and in between piles of wood. For some strange reason, the sled did not tip over or get caught on anything so they went for a ways.”

Being the Yukon, of course the group of people on fat bikes who encountered the runaway team included a musher.

“He agreed to bring the team back and he loaded the fat bike into the sled and tied it down and off he went,” said Haefele. “Everything worked out. … It’s always scary when a team goes off, but there were certainly no injuries. The dogs had a lot of fun. They probably thought, ‘this is great; we’re going faster.’”

Haefele said the thing that stands out about this race is how good the conditions were so early in the season.

“The teams, other than the last two who took a detour, came in (with) pretty good times and not too far spread out,” said Haefele. “Given the snow challenges we’ve been having so far this year, what stands out to me is we actually could have the race and we could have it under very good conditions.”

Next up for DPSAY is the Carbon Hill Race Day on Jan. 19 at the Mount Lorne Community Centre. The race itself is over 30 years old and includes 10-mile, six-mile (9.5-km) and 30-mile (48-km) categories, as well as a kids dash.

Haefele said he wants people to understand that skijoring and mushing is for everybody.

“If you want to come out and try it out and you have a dog, if you’re skiing you can skijor with just about any dog,” said Haefele. “If you have a Chihuahua, they’re not going to pull very much but they might still have a lot of fun.”

Although there were no entries in this race’s recreational classes, Haefele said they are just that — recreational.

“We encourage everybody who wants to give themselves and their dogs a little bit of exercise and who has a pair of skis,” said Haefele, adding would-be participants can likely arrange to borrow any required basics to give it a shot either through the association’s email address,, or via the Facebook group, Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon (DPSAY).

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at

10-mile dog sled results

1 Armin Johnson 32:56

2 Mandy Johnson 34:53

3 Martine LeLevier 35:33

4 Marine Gastard 36:07

5 Jonathan Lucas 41:15

6 Lindsay Caskenette 45:11

7 Jacob Heigers 45:55

8 Fabian Schmitz 46:32

9 Claudia Wickert 48:44

10 Deborah Taisne

11 Martin Haefele

10-mile skijor results

1 Cynthia Corriveau 50:25

2 Jackie Taylor 53:08

3 Joshua Lesage 56:52

The sun hits Marine Gastard and her team as they round the first corner of the Copper Haul Twister race on Dec. 15 hosted by the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon. Gastard finished fourth with a time of 36 minutes and seven seconds. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Jackie Taylor was the first skijorer to hit the trail during the first Twister series race of the year on Dec. 15. Taylor finished second in the skijoring class with a time of 53 minutes and eight seconds. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Lindsay Caskenette and her team start the first Twister race of the season along the Copper Haul Road on Dec. 15. Caskanette finished sixth with a time of 45 minutes and 11 seconds. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)