The First Voronezh Region Winter Sledge Dog Championship “Winter Star of the Black Soil Region – 2019” was held in “Olympic” Sports Complex on Saturday, February 23. The competitions were open. Athletes from Volgograd, Rostov, Krasnodar, Moscow, Orel, Belgorod, Kursk and other regions took part in them.

The organizers of the championship include the Department of Physical Education and Sports of the Voronezh Region, the public organization “Federation of Sled Dog Sports of the Voronezh Region” and “Husky36” nursery.

While the athletes were preparing for the start, the guests could refresh themselves at the field kitchen, take a picture with a polar bear and a husky mascot. However, the dogs received most of the adults’ and children’s attention. Everyone was trying to stroke it and capture with gadgets.

About 40 athletes and 70 dogs arrived at the championship. The animals were really excited, barked and could not stay still. Not only the abundance of impressions made them so excited: many of the four-legged “athletes” could not wait to take off right off the bat. The emotional huskies could not stand a two-minute interval between the race participants. They howled at the start, screamed squeal scandalously and looked at their masters in bewilderment, who were holding them with all their might.

The race on sleds with two dogs was opened by juniors – teenagers over 12 years old. The first to start was the 17-year-old Alexander Kudinov from Volgograd, and he finished with the best result, overcoming with his husky 2.2 km in 6.5 minutes.

Alexander has been taking up sled dog racing for about four years.

– It's our first time in your city. The competitions in Voronezh are well organized, the route is good – we walked along it in advance without dogs. It seemed a long walk, but husky overcame it in a second. Roy and Percy came with us by car, they are already accustomed to traveling and calmly behave on the road. Before the race, we need to give the dogs some water, because they may eat the snow due to the thirst, and the speed slows down. However, today everything was perfect, Alexander and his father Nikolay Kudinov told.

The athletes competed in different categories: a skier with one dog, a musher on sleds, drawn by two and four dogs. After the juniors, the teams of adult participants competed. 7 + children who ran with dogs for a short distance, 200 meters, finished the race.

An electronic timekeeping system was used at the championship: in the start area, a special chip was attached to the athletes’ legs, and only microchipped dogs were allowed to compete.

– At the finish, the chips are scanned in order to make sure that the same dog and the same person finished the race, explained judge Vladimir Barkalov.

Svetlana Nikishina, the organizer of the competition, President of the Federation of Sled Dog Sports of the Voronezh Region, told how the dogs-athletes are trained:

– The dogs are specially trained. The mushers train as well, both with the dogs and separately. The minimum race distance is 2 km, the maximum is 7.5 km. The sleigh may include from two to six dogs. The main thing is that the dog and the person know the route signs, follow the commands “to the right” and “to the left”, know how to make overtakings, and do all this without aggression.

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Фото — Михаил Кирьянов
– At the age of one, a dog can already participate in competitions, and the training starts even earlier. Theoretically, you can put any dog in one harness, but their individual features must be taken into account.

– Animals that run in a harness should listen to each other and most importantly - listen to the musher. There is a saying that the 25th kilometer will reconcile any dogs: at the end of such a distance, they will simply have no adrenaline splashes and aggression. But there are still leading dogs and there are dominants that do not acknowledge other dogs at all. They are used for individual work: one dog - one skier, – Svetlana Nikishina said.

The participants of the race were lost in the crowd of spectators, many of whom also came to the sports complex accompanied by their dogs. Most of the dogs were huskies of all types, but there were also Irish setters, Laikas, German wirehaired pointers, and even a Yorkshire terrier. According to the rules of the championship, a dog of any breed could take part in races. But for the most part, the competition was held between the fastest racers - the Huskies, sometimes competed by Laikas.

Irina Ilyicheva and her son Mikhail came to support the participants accompanied by their dog - Barney, a white fluffy Samoyed Laika.

– This is an ancient sled breed that was common among the Nenets and other Samoyed peoples. It can be used as a sled one, but basically, it is a companion dog. It lived in yurts, warmed the children, she completely lacks a gene of aggressiveness. Aggression is a disqualifying fault for this dog breed, – Irina said.

Mikhail, together with Barney, participates in the canicrosses - running with a dog. Despite the fact that a Samoyed has a speed of up to 30 km/h, the athlete does not fall behind. However, the Samoyeds did not participate in the winter championship - they preferred to pose for photographers.

Another sled breed, the Malamute, was also reluctant to compete with the Huskies.

– Huskies are namely sportive, running dogs. They could quickly deliver a person to where he needed to go. And Malamutes were bred for goods traffic. They are slow but powerful and compete with each other instead of other breeds, – Sergey Kuznetsov, the owner of the good-natured Skity, explained.

Sergey advised everyone who admires beautiful sled dogs not to rush to get a similar pet. A sled dog needs movement, it needs to run a lot and eat a lot - Skity, for example, consumes up to 2 kg of expensive food per day. If a dog of this breed is locked in a cramped apartment, it can smash furniture and howl loudly from boredom.

- A Malamute does not guard, does not bark, does not protect a person outside in the streets. Instead, you need to walk him a lot. I got a dog because I need to move a lot for my health. In the past, it was difficult for me to walk 500 m, and now I can easily walk for 5-6 km together with Skity. After realizing the "shortcomings" of sled dogs, their negligent owners throw them out into the street. There are especially many "lost" Huskies, as evident from the ads. Therefore, do not give in to an impulse if you cannot take responsibility for a living being, - Sergey Kuznetsov warned.