Tahoe-Truckee sled dog races planned for early March | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe-Truckee sled dog races planned for early March

Special to the Tribune

TRUCKEE – The Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers and Sugar Bowl Resort have signed an agreement to return a sled dog race to the Truckee / North Lake Tahoe region after a 16-year hiatus.

Sugar Bowl Resort will host the Jack London Commemorative Sierra Sled Dog Derby on the 3,000-acre property of the Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort on March 2-3, 2013.

The race will be conducted by the Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers, a nonprofit California corporation, under rules and the animal welfare policy of the International Sled Dog Racing Association.

Sled dog teams in classes of three to eight dogs will depart the starting line in Soda Springs and run to the Village at Sugar Bowl Resort and return.

“As part of our overall efforts to return Royal Gorge Cross Country to its once and former glory, adding special events to the calendar is important,” said Sugar Bowl Director of Marketing John Monson. “And with history in mind, this particular event fits the brand perfectly. It should be a lot of fun to watch.”

The Sled Dog Derby highlights the area’s heritage and races that were centerpieces of Winter Carnivals in the early 1900s. The first sled dog race in the “lower 48” was held in Truckee in 1915 and was attended by Jack London. Sled dogs contributed to early regional development being relied upon for transportation, work chores, law enforcement and search and rescue. Annual races were a popular winter sports event until World War II and the advent of modern transportation led to their discontinuation.

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Completion of Interstate 80 brought growth to the area. In the 1960s local mushers, led by Truckee resident Bob Levorsen, formed the Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers and held races at Hobart Mills. The Truckee Lions Club initiated races at the Truckee Tahoe Airport in 1979. These annual races were successful in drawing mushers from western states and in attracting spectators. However, chronically poor snow cover at the site forced many races to be canceled and the last was held in 1997.

“I traveled from southern California to run a team in the 1997 race and was very impressed by the local community. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to assist in the return of this exciting family-oriented event to the founding location of our organization,” said Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers Vice President Preston Springston, now a full-time Truckee area resident. “The race site at Donner Summit and the support of Sugar Bowl in trail grooming ensures a dependable and fast race course for our canine athletes,” said Springston.

Race proceeds will benefit local animal welfare organizations. Volunteers and non-profit service organizations interested in participating in the race should contact Preston Springston, pspringston@hughes.net.

About Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers

The Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers was formed in 1961 in Truckee by northern California mushers to organize and promote the recreational sport of sled dog racing in California. SNDD is a sled dog Race Giving Organization that works closely with communities and service organizations. The importance of good sportsmanship and humane treatment of sled dogs is emphasized.

SNDD partners with northern Sierra communities and service organizations to conduct sled dog race events on snow during the winter season. Proceeds from the events support local charities and youth activities. Race events are currently conducted at Chester, Portola (Lake Davis), and Foresthill (China Wall) in California. The later is conducted in partnership with the Foresthill Chamber of Commerce.

SNDD is an IRS 501 c(3) non-profit incorporated in the state of California. Governance is by a seven member Board of Directors. Annual membership averages 45, principally from California, Nevada and Oregon. Visit http://www.sndd.org.

About International Sled Dog Racing Association

The International Sled Dog Racing Association (ISDRA) was formed in 1966 by Canadian and American mushers to organize and unify the sport of sled dog racing. Beginning in the New England states and lower Canadian provinces, ISDRA sought to standardize rules for “Nome style sprint racing.”

Today ISDRA annually represents more than 100 days of sled dog racing and thousands of individual race performances. Traditional sleds, wheeled rigs or “gigs,” skijoring and, most recently, bike-joring competitions are held for adult and junior divisions and team sizes from “unlimited” to one dog. The racing action begins in mid-October and ends in late March with multiple ISDRA sanctioned events occurring on any given weekend during January and February.

Annual membership averages 850 total members with 55 to 75 sanctioned events and 30 to 40 member clubs. ISDRA is an IRS 501 c(7) nonprofit incorporated in the state of New York. Governance is by an 18 member board of directors and an executive director.

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