Third annual sled dog races slide into Bristol

Pictured, Abigaile Fox, racing out of East Greenville, P.A., competes in the 8-dog sled race on Jan. 6.
Race Marshal Jim Cunningham, looking every part the dog racer, officiated the race, as he has for the past two years.









BRISTOL Jan. 5-6, 2019
Over the weekend, dozens of mushers and dog-lovers gathered in Bristol for the third annual Pontiac International Sled Dog and Skijoring Race.
Located at Timberland Tours, down on chemin Ragged Chute, the air was filled with barks and yips of the dozens of canines rearing to race. There were several different events in which to compete, including 1- and 2-dog skijoring, where racers are towed by their pups on cross country skis, and 4- to 8-dog sled races.
Organizer Denis Rozon said that dozens of teams of racers had signed up for the event, competing for $10,500 in prize money.
Rozon said that racers had come from far and wide to run their dogs, though Quebec racers performed well on their home turf.
“I would say half Canadians and half other countries,” he said, referring to the competitors. “[It’s] very strong in Quebec, especially in the winter. The dryland is different, but in the winter Quebec people are very good.”
The temperature fluctuated rapidly between the two days of competition, from a warm Saturday with sloppy trails to Sunday, where the mercury dropped and mushers glided over sheets of ice.
Luke Siertsema, a racer from Blyth, Ont., explained that they adapt their equipment to suit the trail conditions.
“You have to switch up the wax, we have a high fluorocarbon for sloppier, warmer trails and you have a different kind of wax all together for an icy cold trail,” he said. “Usually we have a few [sleds] prepared for different weekends and we have wax with us for last minute changes as well.”
Rozon added that the changes made for additional work for the trail crew to contend with.
“That was a problem. We were so busy with the trail,” he said. “The Saturday was really mild … It froze overnight and Sunday was slippery, icy, very fast.”
The slick trails are also more treacherous, and Rozon said that several people wiped out on Sunday due to the conditions, but thankfully no one was seriously hurt.
Rozon added that the event wouldn’t be possible without local volunteers and support from the municipality. Bristol councillor Phil Holmes was in the timekeeper’s booth throughout the weekend, calling out ‘Go racer!’ at one to two minute intervals. He also sang the national anthems and presented medals at the closing ceremony.
Mayor Brent Orr was spectating on Sunday afternoon and emphasized the impact the race has on the community.
“It means a lot, it brings a lot of people from different countries … into Bristol and surrounding area,” he said.
He added that though it was a bit nippy as the competition wore on, it was nothing compared to the -40°C temperatures from last year’s competition.
“It’s much better than last year, last year was bone-chilling,” he said.

Skijoring 1 dog
1st Karen Koehler, 2nd Richard
Kisseloff, 3rd Laurence Saucier
Skijoring 2 dog
1st Karen Koehler, 2nd Richard
Kisseloff, 3rd Rachael Bryar
Kick sled 2 dog
1st Carolanne Lachance, 2nd
Albine Devinant, 3rd Katy Rivest
Four-dog sled
1st Katy Rivest, 2nd Valérie Fuchs,
3rd Jay Olmstead
Six-dog sled
1st Valérie Fuchs, 2nd Mandy Collins, 3rd Jenna Dittmar
Eight-dog sled
1st Jean-Rene Saucier, 2nd Louis
Parent, 3rd Jamie Dittmar
Kids and mutts
1st Charlotte Saucier, 2nd Edward
Saucer, 3rd Théo Fortier

Laurence Saucier takes off from the starting line during the one-dog skijoring event on Saturday morning.
The pups could barely contain their excitement, often having to be calmed at the starting line.
The 8-dog sled race on Sunday afternoon was a brisk race, as chilly temperatures had turned the track into a sheet of ice.
The weekend-long event saw racers and their determined dogs travel in from all over to Bristol, competing for a grand total of $10,500 in prizes.
Richard Kisseloff, pictured here on Saturday morning, placed second in both the 1- and 2-dog skijoring event.
The winners of the Kids and Mutts race took to the podium on Sunday afternoon.
Eric Rochon’s sled leaves the ground as he takes part in the 8-dog sled race on Sunday afternoon.

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