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Long Tradition of Sled Dog Racing Struggling to Stay Alive in Truckee



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(Truckee, CA)
Monday, March 11, 2013

(SOUND: BARKING and HOWLING)

In Squaw Valley between steep cliffs, A line of dogs comes tearing into camp. Griffith Linen and his mom are in the sled.

"This was awesome, and I am going to grow up and do this some time. This was like the awesomest thing."

Wilderness Adventures Dog Sled Tours is owned by Brian Maas. 

"Should I get in here?"

 

"Uh yeah, just go ahead jump in there."

 

We went for a ride and talked.

"Completely silent?"

 

"Yeah, once you get going."

 

He's carrying on a long tradition. One of the first races in the lower 48 was held in this area 100 years ago. It became one of the most popular in the nation, but they stopped 15 years ago. There just wasn't enough snow any more. This month Mushers tried to revive the race at a higher elevation. Maas was looking forward to it.

"They are the athletes, I am basically the trainer the coach the vet, they are the real athletes that are doing it, it is all up to them. So definitely the strategy on how you place your dogs."

 

But the race was cancelled. Again, not enough snow. National Weather Service data shows the average snow pack in Tahoe City in the first week in March has dropped by nearly half from 100 years ago. Sam Applebaum is one of Maas' drivers.

 

"It is nerve racking when your job and your livelihood is predicated upon the weather and when the weather is increasingly temperamental and unable to be predicted."

 

Its a recent trend. The International Sled Dog Racing Association says lack of snow has doubled cancellation rates nation-wide this year and over the past 10 years its been as high as 40 percent. 

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