Volunteers needed for world championship
By Darren Lum
There’s no denying the excitement within Karen Koehler when it comes to being able to organize Haliburton’s first IFSS (International Federation of Sleddog Sports) World Championships.
Before the world’s best sleddog racers descend upon the host venue Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve in 2017, the local teacher needs help from the public and the business community.
Koehler, who is a three-time world championship skijoring competitor for Canada, knows from experience and through organizers and marshals of other large sleddog racing events what it takes.
She encourages people to volunteer so they can see the event up close.
“It’s very cool to watch all the excited dogs. They’re so excited to run. It’s a fun event to watch so helping out there‘s a nice sense of being involved in something so big,” she said. “You’re going to have people from all over the world there.”
She adds the sledders are a great group and patient with people, always willing to answer questions.
A variety of volunteers are needed, whether with dog handling experience or not. Volunteers must be over 18. People who are not bothered by the cold and are willing to camp will be needed to help bring food to dog teams.
Anyone who can provide ATVs will be welcomed, particularly for parking lot duties.
There will be close to 200 competitors in the 18 classes (dogsledding and skijoring – a competitor on Nordic skis pulled by a dog, connected by a harness) with about 25 competitors, except some competitors will compete in multiple events. It’s sure to draw hundreds of spectators and add to the economy.
With more than $150,000 needed to run the event, Koehler hopes support in the form of sponsorships materialize. For any sponsorship questions call the Forest at 705-754-2198.
Koehler, in the meantime, is preparing for the upcoming IFSS Dryland World Championship in Bristol, Que., located near Renfrew. She will represent Canada in Canicross and Scooter, possibly Bikejor in the two-day event that has more than 200 competitors.
“We have a good chance to do well. Just based on the fact of how we’ve done in the past few years when there were so many American competitors that are very good,” she said.
Last year, she won the scooter race for the open field (men and women), second in bikejoring for the open, and third in (women’s only) canicross.
This winter Koehler needs to finish well in IFSS sanctioned races (Haliburton Highlands Dogsled Derby hosted by locally owned Winterdance Dogsled Tours) to score points necessary for her to earn a bid to compete at the very world championship that she is helping bring to Haliburton.
“It’s not going to be a problem. I have super dogs. They’re amazing and we win a lot, a lot, a lot. I love it,” she said, laughing.