Quinn and Pops are born to run. They love to chase butterflies. And when they are on the course for the two dog skijor, they seem to be flying.
No wonder they are gold medalists.
Kale Casey received word this month from the International Sled Dog Racing Association that his Mighty Blue Knights skijor racing team won the gold at the 2013 Winter World Championships hosted by the International Federation of Sleddog Sports (IFSS). The competitions took place in North Pole, Alaska, from March 1-17.
"We competed in three sanctioned races in two countries and due to the number of entries and prestige of the race won with three finishes," Casey said.
In skijoring, one to three dogs pull a skate skier on a groomed trail.Casey provides power with his skis and poles, plus the dogs are adding their power through running and pulling.
"The ISDRA gold was a goal that I thought would take many years to achieve. It is hard to find sanctioned races and we were blessed enough during the 10,000-mile round-trip drive to compete in Fairbanks to find a sanctioned race in Elkford, British Columbia, where we won $400 and first place in the professional skijor class," Casey said.
At the awards banquet in late June in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Casey will debut the video he produced of the 2013 IFSS World Championships.
Casey endearingly refers to his dogs as the "pumpkins." Quinn turns three at the end of April and Pops is a little older.
"They both have the same portfolio of race history from Egil Ellis," Casey said. Ellis moved to Alaska after being born and raised in Sweden. Casey speaks with great admiration for the champion who dominated sprint racing for over two decades. He recently retired.
Quinn and Pops are open class sprint dogs. Their breed is known as Pointer Cross, which means they are a cross between an Alaskan Husky and German or English Short-haired Pointer.
"I have adjusted them over to skijoring," Casey said. They don't run in a team of 14 dogs, but by themselves. They have to make decisions on their own without the benefit of an entire pack of dogs. "You are basically asking a pack animal to be a leader, and not every dog is a leader."
Casey skate skis behind his dogs. He is attached to his dogs with a belt-hooked line. Usually they race on four- to 10-mile tracks. Europeans can do about 22 miles per hour on skate skiis. That means they can do a mile in under three minutes. The Mighty Blue Knights racing team does about 3:12 or 3:14.
"If you buy dogs from a great musher and love on them and work really hard — the speed is pretty much inherent in the genes. It's your job to get it out," Casey said.
Quinn and Pops are the Mighty Blue Knights that were born in Alaska and conditioned in Colorado. They train at 10,800 feet on top of the Grand Mesa. With Kale Casey they are the best at what they do for Team USA.
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