Too warm for mushers: World Championship Sled Dog Derby cancelled

Ed Clifford of Raymond takes off with his team during the six-dog classic at the Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby in 2022. 

Ed Clifford of Raymond takes off with his team during the six-dog classic at the Laconia World Championship Sled Dog Derby in 2022.  JON DECKER / Laconia Daily Sun file 

By ADAM DRAPCHO

Laconia Daily Sun

Published: 02-11-2024 11:11 AM

The 95th World Championship Sled Dog Derby will have to wait until next year, as the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club has announced that conditions are not suitable for a race this year.

The event, which draws mushers and sled dog teams from across the U.S. and Canada, was originally scheduled for Feb. 16-18. A couple of weeks ago, organizers were hopeful that continued cold, and a couple of more snowfalls, would provide enough snow for a course to be prepared. However, on Thursday, eight days before the scheduled start of the competition, the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club released a statement conceding that climate conditions had gone in the opposite direction.

“There is no snow on most of the course to build a trail. The rest of this week will be above freezing during the day and no snow (is) forecasted until next Tuesday, making it too late and most likely not enough snow to have a base and then build the trail,” the statement read.

Previously, Jennifer Hollows, president of the Sled Dog Club, had said they need to give their mushers at least five days’ notice of the race to allow for travel time.

Even if more snow were to fall within the coming week, it’s unlikely the race could be held, the release explained, because much of the ground has thawed, exposing wet areas where the snow wouldn’t stick.

“We are saddened to cancel again, but Mother Nature is not working with us. We thank you for the continued community support, and we hope to have a larger race next year,” the release said.

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A raffle, organized as a means to raise prize money for mushers, will still be held as tickets have already been sold. The winners will be drawn at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, on Facebook Live. Those interested in supporting the Sled Dog Derby can still purchase tickets on lrsdc.org.

With no race, and no prizes to award the winners, the club has voted to donate some of the money raised to the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction and the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation. The rest of its fundraising proceeds will be held for next year’s race.

“Our goal is to have a large enough purse to welcome mushers from the Midwest and even Alaska,” stated the release.

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