St. John Valley

Skijoring over Can-Am weekend draws more competitors, fans

FORT KENT, Maine — After a morning of watching mushers and their dogs take off from Main Street in the Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races on Saturday, spectators moseyed over to the Fort Kent Outdoor Center to watch more pups and their owners speeding along on the snow as part of the 5th Annual Skijoring Races.

Skijoring is much like sled dog racing, but rather than the dogs pulling a sled, the competitors are on skis and harnessed to one or two dogs. Organizer and FKOC Board member Sylvia Dow-Harvey said this event promotes cross country skiing and healthy, outdoor fun.

“We have tons of snow, so why not have fun in it instead of wallow in it?” she said Saturday afternoon.

This event was created in conjunction with the Can-Am and had four races Saturday which included one 4-kilometer skijoring race with a single dog, one 4K with two dogs pulling the skier, a 4K race with a kicksled utilizing two dogs, and finally, a 4K 4-dog dog sled race. A kicksled is just a small sled propelled by the rider kicking the ground with his foot. This was the first year that the dog sled race also made it into the mix and was added because many Canadian racers enjoy those events, according to Dow-Harvey.

Saturday’s races were followed by more on Sunday at a length of 8 kilometers.

Genevieve Baril of Bromont, Quebec, said she drove five hours to compete for the first time at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center.

“I heard the trail was so good, that we decided to make the drive,” she said before competing in the single-dog skijoring race on Saturday.

After the race, Baril, who competed with her dog Ferrari, said she fell over twice, but got back up to finish.

“There was a little bit of fresh, deep snow, so it was a little hard for the dogs,” she said. “But he was able to pass other dogs, so that’s what I was training for today, so I am quite happy still.”

Laurence Gagne, 27, who competed in the double-dog skijoring race, decided to drive to Fort Kent from St. Agapit, Quebec, for the same reason Baril did — the “amazing” trails.

“I’m here to just have fun and see how it goes,” she said about her fourth race this season and 16th overall.

Donna Twombly, a spectator from Eagle Lake, has seen skijoring before, but this was the first year she made the trek to watch the competition at the outdoor center.

“It is important to have events like this in the Valley because we attract people from outside of the area to just see what all we have to offer,” Twombly said. “Downtown was full of people today, a lot of people who have never been here before. I even saw plates from Virginia. It’s really exciting.”

Results of the events at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center will be available online at the center’s website.

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