Dog racing revival may be at hand locally

There are more than Arctic char being hatched at the Icy Waters fish farm on Fish Lake Road. Jonathan Lucas, general manager at the farm, is laying…

There are more than Arctic char being hatched at the Icy Waters fish farm on Fish Lake Road.

Jonathan Lucas, general manager at the farm, is laying the foundation for a mushing revival in Whitehorse.

“Competitively, there wasn’t much to do,” said Lucas, a skijorer who was frustrated at the lack of dog sport activities in the city.

“Whitehorse, the home of the Yukon Quest, has no local races.”

There’s the Silver Sled, Carbon Hill, and The Babe Southwick Memorial. “There’s only three, and none of them are in Whitehorse,” he said.

“Those races might not get snow; maybe they get pushed, maybe not. In Destruction Bay, they just didn’t have the snow, and cancelled it — and two years ago, it fell on the same day as the Carbon Hill. Argghhh.”

Local mushers and skijorers don’t have much of a season, as the Dash for Cash and the Sourdough Rendezvous races sit in limbo. They haven’t been run in years.

Lucas and a small group of enthusiasts wanted to do something to bolster the local dog sports community, to break what he described as the “declining cycle of interest and participation.”

Their idea is a six-race league, with monthly races from November to April. “It’s something fun, that’s competitive and good for training as well.”

Designed to appeal to small kennel owners and skijorers, the races will follow a 19-kilometre course Lucas set up, which he calls the Copper Haul Twister.

“Most races are a loop, just going as fast as you can,” he said. “This one I wanted to make more interesting.

“It goes three and half miles out, down the Copper Haul Road, which is nice and wide, then you turn onto a side trail, and then from that point on, there’s 17 turns that the dogs have to make, and you have to call it.”

It’s good practice for your gees and haws.

The idea earned a trial run in April, with an unpublicized race with two skijorers and three sleds competing.

Duffy’s Pets and Tanzilla Harness Supply, Skookum Brands Northern Garments, Yukon River Salmon and Icy Waters Ltd. sponsored the inaugural Twister, and Lucas is hoping to gather some more sponsors for the upcoming series.

Each race will have cash prizes for the top five finishers, $50 for first place, plus a cut of the entry fees.

“It’s a grassroots idea — we spread the cash prizes out — it’s not big, but it’s gas money,” said Lucas.

There will be a season-points champion, as well, for racers who compete in at least four races. A custom designed trophy is up for grabs at the end of the season; Lucas, who won the April Twister, is the defending champion.

The first race is scheduled for November 18, and will be open to both skijorers with two or three dogs, and sleds with two to four dogs.

The number of dogs will vary over the race series, with a maximum of six.

“The whole point of the main race is to encourage people who haven’t got that many dogs, who don’t have huge kennels, to get in to the competition.”

Big kennel mushers are welcome too, Lucas looks at it as a chance to train a puppy team or work with leaders.

Lucas knows not everyone is happy about sleds and skis competing in the same race, but he’s not worried about it.

“Mushers maybe don’t want to get involved with a skijorer, but out on the trail, you never know who you’re going to meet — it’s good training in team control.”

Young mushers can participate as well. A five-kilometre course on the Copper Haul will follow the main race, and a new, one dog “non-husky” division will run last.

“It’s open to anyone that has a dog that can run,” said Lucas. “They can have a kick-sled, skis, or they can sit on a GT Racer if they want — as long as they are attached to a dog that does what they say.”

All three divisions will have league standings for the season.

The race schedule is flexible, Lucas said he wants to complement existing races, not compete with them.

The league has already got some international coverage, in Northern Exposure, the magazine of the Scottish Siberian Husky Club.

Lucas hopes that may help in landing some sponsors. “All our potential sponsors that have websites, and potential export sales, will get exposure in the UK.

“This is important as small team (two to four dog) racing with three-wheel carts and scooters is becoming huge in Europe.”

For more information check out the official race blog at or send inquiries to

Just Posted

Jibo comes North

Interactive robot is a pricey assistant with personality

Warm weather causes dangerous road conditions in southern Yukon

‘We have to chain up the sand machines just to get out’

Lunchtime power outage plunges parts of south Yukon into darkness

Power to 7,800 residents was out for up to 90 minutes

Darryl Sheepway murder trial comes to a close with Crown submissions

The Crown presented its closing submissions Dec. 8. A verdict is expected in January

Teachers’ Association president placed on leave following ‘serious’ allegations

‘I’m going to let the membership decide what it is that they want to do about this’

Lower Post, B.C., man suing Yukon RCMP over assault allegation

Suit alleges man ended up with ‘ended up with bruising on his arms, biceps and chest’

Yukon Rivermen host South Okanagan Knights for 3-game series

‘Having 15 games at home is absolutely unheard of for a Yukon team’

Sort those recyclables

The mills that receive our recyclables are getting pickier

Supreme Court’s Peel decision is straight to the point

Ruling is an important, precedent-setting decision that defines the scope of land use planning

Celebrating 40 years of celebrating Yukon’s history

This year the Yukon Historical and Museums Association marks a major milestone

All about recalls

If your ride is subject to a recalll, take it in right away

Whitehorse tyke hockey program embraces half-ice setup

‘If they’re on half-ice, they get to touch the puck’

Yukon Men’s Basketball League expands in fourth season

‘Come playoff time, guys get a little more intense and the skill level increases’

Most Read