When Lori and Louve Tweddell went for their first dog sled ride, they were about six months old in their mother’s arms while their father mushed.
Twelve years later the twin sisters are steering their own sleds.
The Tweddell sisters will make up Yukon’s dog mushing team at the Arctic Winter Games this March in Fairbanks, Alaska, the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon announced over the weekend.
“I’m very excited because I want to have that experience of meeting people who have the same life I have,” said Lori. “I want to meet people who know how to mush and stuff like that.”
“I was so excited and so happy at the same time, and a little bit nervous,” said Louve of going to the Games.
The two 12-year-olds from Mendenhall near Haines Junction qualified for Team Yukon at the Yukon Brewing Twister, a DPSAY event at the Takhini Hot Springs on Saturday.
Before the main event at the Twister, the two sisters went head to head on a seven-kilometre trail. Lori took first at 19 minutes and 45 seconds, almost a minute ahead of Louve. They were the only two who tried out for the team.
“I’m so happy because the day before the race I was so stressed out,” said Lori. “The last time I raced I fell on a corner and I was hoping that would not happen again.
“And I beat her, so I was so happy.”
The Tweddell family wouldn’t even be in Yukon if not for dog mushing.
They moved from Quebec to Yukon nine years ago, switching from malamutes to Alaskan huskies, so father Luc Tweddell could chase his dream of racing in the Yukon Quest.
Luc raced the Yukon Quest in 2009, placing 14th. He hopes to enter the 1,600-kilometre race again in a year or two.
“The reason we moved was so I could run the Quest. It was my dream since I was a teenager,” said Luc. “The kids were there and they grew up around dogs, since they were babies.
“For them they are like their buddies. In town everyone lives in neighbourhoods so they have their friends to play with. But for my daughters we live outside of the city limit so there are no kids around here, so their buddies are the dog team.”
“I know my dogs. When they were puppies we brought them inside so they would be social with us,” said Louve.
The Arctic Games are going to be a family affair. Luc and wife Julie Dessureault will be the coaches for the team at the Games.
“It’s going to be a family trip to Fairbanks,” said Luc. “I’ll be coaching one team and my wife will coach the other. The dogs are my dogs … and basically (Lori and Louve) run my best dogs at the kennel.
“But my dogs are trained for long distance, so I’m really surprised that they are pretty good at sprinting.”
Having the family there “takes a lot of the nerves away,” said Louve.
“We want to go there to have fun,” she added. “We are going to race against each other, but I don’t think we’re going to laugh in each other’s face.”
The Tweddell twins won’t be the first siblings to represent Yukon at the Arctic Games.
Rachel and Ben Kinvig from the Mount Lorne area each competed in three Arctic Games in total and at the same Games in 2008 and 2010.
Rachel won every one of her races over three Games ending in 2012, becoming the most decorated musher in Arctic Games history.
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