When Jonathan Lucas moved to Whitehorse, mushing was part of the plan.
What he didn’t expect was to become the hub of the local recreational dog sports scene.
But after the success of the inaugural season of the Yukon Brewing Copper Haul Twister last winter, that seems to be the role he’s taken on.
“The Dash for Cash stopped and Rendezvous stopped … and it was like, there’s nowhere to race,” said Lucas on Monday.
So, along with a few friends, Lucas hatched the plan for a six-race series, for training and fun.
“It just sort of formed — looking back, it was all there, everyone was keen to do it. It just needed someone to do a bit of co-ordination.”
Local mushers were receptive, and Lucas was surprised to find some of the races having more than 30 teams turning out.
“We thought maybe we’d get half a dozen teams out,” said Lucas. “We just wanted to put on a race, we never expected it to be so popular.”
He added that it was great to see some of the bigger kennels bring tourists out to see the races.
“The idea was it’s open to anybody, including people that had never raced before, that’s why it’s always a small team, two to six dogs.”
With sponsorship behind each race, and Yukon Brewing coming on as the overall series sponsor, Lucas was able to offer plenty of prizes and cash to the racers.
After the six races, it was Lee Kirkpatrick who took the Twister series championship, with Lucas, who skijored his races, coming in second.
Racing continued in the summer season with the Hot Hounds series, which was not as popular, but Lucas said the dogs he trained on dry land are the ones doing best in his early winter training.
“They have the best paws, they’re in the best condition, and have a really good attitude — it wasn’t that intensive, but keeping them busy helped.”
The second season of the Copper Haul Twister kicks off on November 17th at 9 a.m.
The race may be pushed to the 24th if there’s not enough snow. The course will remain the same, starting on the Copper Haul Road at Fish Lake Road, with a series of loops and a turnaround, total distance 19-kilometres.
The single pet-dog division and kids race (both five-kilometres) will also continue.
All entry fees are $10 per team.
One major change this season will require series competitors to sit out from one of the six races and help out as a volunteer, the one area that the Twister needed the most help.
Lucas has also planned two new events, unrelated to the Twister, for December 1st.
The first is a 35-kilometre race, dubbed the Reach for the Sky, the race will start at Icy Waters, pass through Sky High and Sunshine Valley ranches, cross Fish Lake and go over Mount Mac to the Copper Haul.
“It’s a 2,000-foot climb over 15-miles,” said Lucas. “and of course 2,000 back down.”
The other is a freight pull contest, which will run concurrently.
“I’m really interested in freight pull, and there were only three competitions in the Yukon; I thought we’d get another one going early on, ” said Lucas.
For all the vital information, surf to www.copperhaultwister.blogspot.com.