Martine Lelevier heads into the sunrise as she starts out the 10 K annual Twister race on Dec. 3, 2017. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Twister dog sled and skijor race series kicks off a week late in Whitehorse

‘It’s open to everybody’

The annual Twister race series kicked off on Dec. 3 with a 10-mile race along the Copper Haul Road trails in Whitehorse.

Organized by the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon (DPSAY), the competitive race featured 14 dog sledders and one skijorer.

First across the line was Mandy Johnson with a time of 34:00.

Adam Robinson, race coordinator for DPSAY, said the race was delayed a week due to a lack of snow.

“There wasn’t quite enough snow to put in the snow hooks,” said Robinson. “Last week, there was enough snow for a sled to glide on, but you couldn’t set a hook.”

That becomes an issue in a competitive setting, where passing a tangled team without set hooks could lead to the team getting excited and breaking loose from the musher’s grasp.

“Safety was the big thing.”

The turnout for the dog sled category was higher than normal according to Robinson.

“We probably had four or five more than average,” said Robinson, the lone skijorer to race 10 miles. “Our skijorer numbers have been going down a bit more in the last few years because people’s circumstances have been changing.”

The recreational class was made up of four racers — all skijorers — and ran after the competitive race.

The focus for DPSAY is to encourage more people to come out for the recreational class.

“All the people who have big teams know what we do, they know when we do it and they know what to expect, so there is not much room to grow in that area,” said Robinson. “We’re just trying to get people out enjoying a sport with their dog.”

Open to all dogs, whether it be sled dogs or just a family lab that likes to pull, Robinson said the recreational class is a great opportunity for people to get out and meet people to skijor or fat-bike with for fun.

“It’s open to everybody.”

The next race in the Twister series is scheduled for Dec. 17, but organizers said it may be pushed back or cancelled due to the delay of the start of the season.

“We’re reassessing that based on the date of this race,” said Robinson. “We don’t like to have them too close together because people are busy training for longer races.”

If the next race is scrapped entirely, the Carbon Hill race day in February will be the next event DPSAY hosts.

That day includes a 30-mile dog sled and skijor race in addition to a 10-mile race, a recreational class race and a post-race banquet.

Originally run by a separate board, DPSAY took over the Carbon Hill event four years ago.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at


Dogs are ready to get going at the start line. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Armin Johnson races for a third place finish. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

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