Camp Ripley Winter Warrior Sled Dog Races: Really
By Sally O’Sullivan
(February 18, 2013, Camp Ripley, MN) Camp Ripley and nature
rolled out the red carpet to stage a truly winter warrior’s sled dog race.
Twelve inches of new snow blanketed the mostly wooded trails along the
Mississippi River in a winter wonderland of beauty for the thirty teams that
entered to vie for the $1600+ in purse money. Camp Ripley lent its trail groomer
and personnel to the superb weekend to make for a very successful event, which
sported an 8-dog mid-distance class (37.1 miles), a 10-dog sprint class (10.2
miles), a 6-dog sprint class (5.7 miles), and the 4-dog sprint pro and
recreational classes (4.0 miles), 1-dog skijoring, and 2- and 3-dog youth
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Saturday saw
partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low teens. Sunday was warmer with
temperatures in the upper 20’s but damper with a good breeze. The trails were
well packed and harder on Sunday.
The longer trails had some challenging hills and curves as
well as some interesting sights along the way, including tanks, helicopters, and
even a practice Afghan “town” and prisoner of war camp used for military
reservists’ weekend war games. Other reservists could be seen practicing their
cross-country ski and snowshoe skills.
When all was said and done, Alex LaPlante of Esko, MN, took
home the trophy in the mid-distance class with a total time for the two days of
7:20:40.36 (hours, minutes, seconds, hundredths), besting second place Tim
Chisholm of North Branch, MN, whose time was 7:24:32.75. Linus Meyer of Melrose,
MN, placed third with a time of 7:36:25.33.
In the 10-dog sprint class, event organizer Bob Bzdok of
Rice, MN, copped the top honor with a total time of 1:13:40.00. Art Stoller from
Bagley, MN, took second place with a total time of 1:14:48.03. Bzdok had a
substantial lead after Saturday’s heat, but on Sunday his leader was reluctant
to get started, costing him almost two minutes. Coreene Hanson, Stoller’s
partner, took third place with a time of 1:25:23.42. Both Stoller and Hanson ran
only eight dogs, the “puppy brigade,” as they referred to them.
A small contingent of teams came in from the East en route
to the IFSS (International Federation of Sleddog Sports) World Championships in
North Pole, Alaska, to compete in the Winter Warrior’s limited classes. With
crack teams ready to vie with the best in the world, they showed their stuff by
impressive runs in the 6-dog and 4-dog classes. Grace Bailey of Stratford, NH,
bagged first place in the 6-dog class with a total time of 45:29.40. Sherry
Johnson of Fergus Falls, MN, carrying the Neal and Carolyn Johnson tradition of
great teams, logged in a second place time of 49:37.90. She also gave a superb
interview with a Brainerd television channel, there to record the events. Steve
Peterson, Backus, MN, took third place with a time of 1:19:09.12. Mention should
be made of competitor Allison Petell (Mazeppa, MN), whose kennel consists of
rescue dogs. Although she was not in the money, mushers commend her for her
efforts to rescue dogs suitable for the trails. Such an undertaking takes vim
and vigor … and lots of patience!
Grace Bailey again took the top honor in the 4-dog pro
class with a time of 19:29.21. Jordyn Bzdok of Rice, MN, turned a respectable
second place time of 20:07.49, and Lyman Wolske, NSSDC president from Hudson,
WI, placed third with a time of 20:55.77. In the 4-dog recreational class,
Sherry Johnson was again on the awards podium in first place with a time of
26:06.60, and Camille Haglin of Brainerd, MN, clocked in a time of 27:06.80 to
take second place. Brad LeBlanc from Little Falls, MN, took home the third place
trophy with a time of 31:11.91.
Mike Schultenover of Excelsior, MN, won the 1-dog skijoring
event, posting a time of 32:56.94. Nathalie Fortier of Loudon, NH, placed
second, clocking 35:30.65.
The Bzdok kids from Rice, MN, stole the show in the youth
classes. Jonathan ran the 2-dog, 4-mile trail in a total time of 27:20.62.
Jaymie covered the distance with her three dogs in 25:38.24. They exhibited a
friendly family rivalry as well as well wishes to each other. A gutsy
seven-year-old, Jonathan fears little and stops short of nothing on the trails,
but a howling wolf out on the trail will scare the devil out of him!
Rumors have circulated that Camp Ripley was already taking
stock of the trail map on Sunday morning for 2014 in an effort to improve the
layout and staging. They were very pleased with the event. Camp Ripley Post
Commander Col. Scott St. Sauver and Sgt. Tim Krouth, who worked directly with
North Star and Erin Lindquist and Bob Bzdok, paid their respects to the race.
Over the weekend, Camp Ripley also hosted the Annual Norwegian Soldiers Exchange
Program, and several participants came over the see the sled dog race.
North Star Sled Dog Club (NSSDC) extends its thanks to all
the personnel at Camp Ripley, especially Sgt. Tim Krouth and the trail groomer,
and to the many sponsors who contributed to the race. NSSDC also thanks the
officials and assistants: event organizers Erin Linquist and Bob Bzdok, race
marshal Sally O’Sullivan Bair, veterinarian Jerry Vanek, dog marker Jill Levene,
timer Lynn Congdon, chute judge Mike Congdon, announcer Chris Meyer, and trail
boss Brian Bzdok, and the myriad of other people who helped, among them the VFW
of Little Falls, which supplied the concessions. Don Deckert, Melissa Bloom, and
Stoffel Reitsma were available to give sled dog rides to anyone. Thanks!
Camp Ripley reports 12" of new snow after this past weekend's storm. Trails are
being groomed and looking good!
Sally O'Sullivan Bair
Entry deadline for the Camp Ripley Winter
Warrior Sleddog Race has been extended to Friday, February 15, 2013, 10:00 AM.
February 6, 2013
Camp Ripley Race Looking Good!
Erin Lindquist, race coordinator for the Camp Ripley Winter Warrior Sled Dog
Race, scheduled for February 16-17, 2013, at Camp Ripley, MN, is cautiously
optimistic that there will be sufficient snow cover for all classes of the race.
Not only is there enough (barely, though) on the ground now, but more
accumulation is expected in the next five days as well, and no significant melt
is in the forecast either. All appears good to go!
January 28, 2013
Due to lack of adequate snow, the St. Paul Winter
Carnival Sled Dog Race rescheduled for February 2-3, 2013, on Bald Eagle Lake in
White Bear Lake, MN, has been cancelled. Despite the new snow (3"), there is
still not enough to prepare a proper and safe trail on the lake.
January 21, 2013
Update: St. Paul Winter Carnival Sled Dog Race,
White Bear Lake, MN.
Due to lack of adequate snow, the St. Paul Winter
Carnival Sled Dog Race scheduled for January 26-27, 2013, on Bald Eagle Lake in
White Bear Lake, MN, has been postponed to February 2-3, 2013. A final decision
regarding snow decisions for the February date will be made Sunday, January
January 17, 2013
Update: St. Paul Winter Carnival Sled Dog Race,
White Bear Lake, MN.
Due to the lack
of sufficient snowfall following the recent warm conditions, the fate of this
year’s St. Paul Winter Carnival Sled Dog Race, scheduled for January 26-27,
2013, is in question. While ice thickness on Bald Eagle Lake (White Bear Lake,
MN) remains more than sufficient, the minimal snow cover will not support the
creation of a trail at this time.
A minimum of 3-4
inches of new snow will be needed in the upcoming few days in order for a safe
trail to be established on the lake. 5-8 inches will be required in order to
provide a trail surface which will secure a musher's snow hook, necessary to
anchor a team in place when stopped. For safety reasons, the 10-dog class will
be cancelled unless snow hooks can be set. All other classes will still take
place if a safe trail can be created which may or may not be able to secure a
The North Star
Sled Dog Club will be making a final decision on whether to postpone or cancel
the race on Sunday, January 20, 2013. The results of this decision will be
posted on the race website (www.wintercarnivalsleddograce.com),
the North Star Sled Dog Club’s website (www.nssdc.org),
Sled Dog Central (www.sleddogcentral.com),
and announced via standard media outlets.
all snowmobilers, plow truck drivers and
If the decision is made to go forward with the
race, the North Star club will need the help of the local community to establish
the trail. Please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer,
and help save this historic piece of the St. Paul Winter Carnival!
January 15, 2013
The Frazee (Minnesota) Third Rendezvous Sled Dog Race is being rescheduled
for Saturday, February 23, 2013. A lack of snow has made it necessary to move
the race from its originally scheduled date of January 19, 2013.
January 10, 2013
The St. Paul Winter Carnival Sled Dog Race will be graced
with the appearance of the Winter Carnival Royal Family, who will confer
knighthood on several attendees. The royals will be present at 3:00 PM on
Sunday, January 27, 2013. The race is scheduled for January 26-27, 2013, on Bald
Eagle Lake in the city of White Bear Lake, MN, a northern suburb of St. Paul.
December 18, 2012
Camp Ripley Winter Warrior Sled Dog Race:
Equipment requirements in the Mid Distance class: In addition to the equipment
required by the main North Star race rules, the following items are required
in the sled, or with the musher, on the race course of the mid-distance class:
*First aid kit,
*Wire cutters and/or knife,
*Set of booties for each dog.
November 20, 2012
From Sally O'Sullivan Bair
Entry forms for the 2013 races are now available. Click on the menu item in the
left column, "Race Entry Forms." As remaining forms come in, they will be
NSSDC Volunteers Needed
September 15, 2012
Volunteers are needed for the following North Star Sled Dog
Club events and activities.
Winter Carnival Race: If you or someone you know is
interested in helping with the planning and execution of the Winter Carnival
race, please let Sally Bair or Joe Fessler know. In addition, we are seeking
volunteers to be involved in the following events associated with the race:
Kids Mutt Race: NSSDC is still finalizing plans with
Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet, but our hope is to have a number of events at
their store locations to promote the Kids Mutt Race. These events would involve
bringing dogs and equipment to walk families with children through everything
they will need to know to get themselves ready to participate in the Kids Mutt
Race. We plan to have a set “curriculum” developed by the time of the events.
Although the dates are not established at this time, please let Joe Fessler know
if you are interested in being involved. The Kids Mutt Race is usually for kids
Winter Carnival Parades: NSSDC would like to have
representation in one or both of the Winter Carnival parades this year.
Unfortunately, the daytime parade is typically the Saturday of our event.
However, it would be fantastic if we can find a few non-racing members to handle
this parade. The torch light parade is the following week during the evening
sometime. Please let Bob Bzdok or Joe Fessler know if you are interested in
being a part of the parade.
NSSDC Event at Infinite Campus: Joe Fessler’s work
has requested that the club come out this January on either the 3rd, 9th, or
10th during the work day to provide a brief talk on sled dogs and skijoring,
some demos, and a handful of dog sled rides for the top contributors to the
company’s Toys for Tots campaign. Please let Joe Fessler know if you are
interested in being involved in this event and which of the dates would work for
you. Note that the club will be receiving a donation from Infinite Campus for
providing the programming.
Girl Scout Events: Joe Fessler will be providing
educational dog sled programming to a number of Girl Scout groups again this
winter. He is looking for additional mushers to come and share their experiences
with the scouts. Fessler has structured programming, including hands on
activities, to be presented at these events. Please let him know if you are
interested in participating, and he will provide additional details and
Midwest Mountaineering Winter Expo, Nov. 16-18:
NSSDC will require a handful of volunteers to occupy the booth Friday November
16 through Sunday November 18 during Expo hours. This involves talking to
customers about the sport, the dogs, the club, upcoming events and promoting new
membership applications. Please let Joe Fessler know if you are able to help
Anti-Doping Training to
September 15, 2012
Federation of Sleddog Sports) secretary general Sally O’Sullivan Bair will
tentatively be offering training for those interested in the IFSS canine
anti-doping protocols. Bair is the only IFSS certified canine anti-doping
official in North America. This two-day, weekend seminar will be offered in
cooperation with the University of Minnesota Veterinary School.
The training will take place on the St. Paul campus,
probably sometime in April, 2013. Dr. Jerry Vanek, DVM, will also present a
short workshop to the vet students on doing race vet checks.
Bair has been in contact with Megan Pratt, Pre-Veterinary
Club President at the University vet school. Pratt has expressed interest on the
part of several of the vet students in such a training seminar and workshop.
The seminar is open to any interested person. One need not
be a veterinarian or a vet student or a pharmacist or physician to attend (Bair
is none of these!). Anyone wishing to participate in this valuable and
interesting weekend seminar is asked to email Bair at
NSSDC Elects New Officers
September 15, 2012
This year, the positions of vice president and treasurer
and the adult youth committee chair were up for election on the staggered
schedule of officer elections. Joe Fessler was re-elected to the position of
vice president. He was installed in this position last year as a result of the
then vice president, Lyman Wolske, being elected to the presidency. Julie
Schmelzer, a relative newcomer to NSSDC circles, was elected to be the new
treasurer. In that there were no nominees to accept the position, the Adult
Youth Committee Advisor remains vacant.
Vice president Joe Fessler’s involvement in the operation
of mushing organizations is the next step in his goal of supporting the sled dog
community and educating the broader public about the sport. Through his passion
for mushing and his innovative ideas, he hopes “to contribute energy and promote
collaboration amongst the various groups involved in the mushing community.”
He became involved in our sport around 2005 or 2006 with
his Siberians in the skijoring events, where he has garnered many accolades.
This young man lives life at 90 miles an hour. He is a board member of Mushing
USA and a founding board member of Skijor USA. With a B.S. Degree in Computer
Science, he is currently employed as senior software engineer. He is the founder
of Experience Sled Dogs, an organization that provided a sled dog program for
141 girls of the Rum River Girl Scouts. Joe has been an integral member of the
NSSDC race committee, lending his energy and expertise to, especially, the St.
Paul Winter Carnival race. Fessler lives in Chisago City, MN, with his kennel of
Siberian husky dogs.
NSSDC’s new treasurer Julie Schmelzer lives in Kimball, MN.
She has been around the sport for thirteen years, mainly in the mid-distance
classes. Schmelzer loves the outdoors, especially hiking, canoeing and camping.
Although she received her education in recreational leadership and American Sign
Language, which she freelances at, her true calling is for the outdoors. Her
interests in hiking took her to Kenya, Africa, to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2009
with three other women. The climb took five days of hiking and camping. “The
views were awesome.”
Back at home she resides with her hubby and her Siberians,
which she races in the mid-distance classes. She especially enjoys the sport or
rec class. Her next adventure? Only she knows!
August 22, 2012
–At its Summer meeting and picnic on August 11, 2012, NSSDC elected
new officers. Elected were:
Vice President: Joe Fessler
Treasurer: Julie Schmelzer