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2006 La Grande Odyssée Reports

Contact communication La Grande Odyssée: Marc Burnier, marc@grandeodyssee.com
Contact presse Portes du Soleil: Nathalie Philibert, presse@portesdusoleil.com 

All the results on www.grandeodyssee.com

Podium of général ranking : Jacques Philip, Ken Anderson, Tim Hunt.

Thursday, January 19 - Final stage
Wednesday, January 18 - stage 9
Tuesday, January 17 - return on the stage 8
Tuesday, January 17 - departure of stage 8
Tuesday, January 17 - second part of stage 7
Monday, January 16 - start of stage 7
Sunday, January 15 - start of second set
Saturday, January 14
Thursday, January 12 - end of first set
Wednesday-Thursday, January 11-12th
Tuesday, January 10th
Sunday, January 8th


January 19, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006: Final stage 10, dernier turn : Bessans – Val Cenis Lanslebourg!

Yesterday, at the end of the stage 9, Jacques and Ken still lead the race, with Gwen Holdmann on an excellent 3nd place. But all the musher know that in matter of sled dogs, nothing is sure before the end of the race.

Today, Bessans welcome the last start of La Grande Odyssée 2006. A trail of 88 km of efforts (actually 71 km) with 2 400 m of positive climb. At the finish, the atmosphere was shared between the emotion of the end of the race, the intense fatigue accumulated all along these 1000 km of effort and the enjoyment to celebrate La Grande Odyssée.

Jacques Philip, at the top since the beginning in the general ranking, managed to outstrip Ken on the podium of the stage 10. He is 2nd for the Trophy of Haute Maurienne Vanoise and 1st in the general ranking.

Ken Anderson did the maximum onto this stage to secure his first place in the ranking of Haute Maurienne Vanoise and his second place in the general ranking of La Grande Odyssée.

Tim Hunt, who was only in 5 minutes from Gwen before the last stage, caught up her on the podium. She stopped 3 mn in the first passage of Lanslebourg to verify a problem with a tired dog, which she finally decided to keep in the team. This stop had consequence on her speed and on the advance she had on Tim, who challenged her.

Finally, he earned the 3d place of the podium before Gwen Holdmann at only 7 small seconds!

Also, Tasha Stielstra made everything to go back up to the ranking. Smiling on her sled, she arrives 3rd of the stage. She takes time to make photos of the arrival, sliding up to the line. Also 3rd of the trophy of Haute Maurienne Vanoise, she is 4th in the general classification.

Daniel Juillaguet, skates of all his forces at 100 metres of the arrival to make the best score of this stage. He arrives 8th there, is classified 9th in the trophy Haute Maurienne Vanoise and 6th in the general ranking.

Thomas Hoffman is applauded for his courage: for three days, he runs with a bandaged arm. He is 7th in the general ranking. French Jean-Philippe Pontier and Benoît Bar as well as Swiss Pierre-Antoine Héritier are respectively 8th, 9th and 10th in the general ranking. Benoît and Pierre-Antoine arrived at the term of the race full of emotion. Used to surprise the staff by his jokes, it is in the tour of Benoît to be surprised at the arrival by Dominique Grandjean who sprays him with champagne. He takes his handler in the arms, so touched as him: it is its last race of Benoît!

Miguel-Angel Martinez, with in naturally kindness is 11th in the general ranking. Giancarlo Cattaneo and Petter Karlsson are 12th and 13th. Caroline Morin, the Quebecer, fought for the honor of the race, with the courage and the cheerfulness which characterizes her with her team. She arrives last one of the stage, raising the colours of Québec. She is 14th on the general ranking.

From her part, Magali Philip knew how to resist to injuries and difficulties of the race by ending by finishing honorably last one. A particular thought for Emil Inauen, Jean-Marc Tatu and Nicholas Akers, participants of the last week who abandoned the race because of their injuries. Dogs were all congratulated and caressed by their master. Congratulations for them!

The winner of La Grande Odyssée 2006 is Jacques Philip, arrived 2nd last year behind Royer.

Podium of the stage 10 : Jacques Philip, Ken Anderson, Tasha Stielstra.

Podium of trophée de Haute Maurienne Vanoise : Jacques Philip, Ken Anderson, Tasha Stielstra

Podium of général ranking : Jacques Philip, Ken Anderson, Tim Hunt.

Prix Lanterne rouge : Miguel-Angel Martinez.

Prix orange : Tasha Stielstra, the nicest musher.

Trophies do not go only to mushers. A special award is dedicated to the dog selected by the team of veterinarian. It went to Julia, from the Giancarlo Cattaneo's Italian team. She was unanimously chosen by the veterinarians for her courage and her natural sympathy.


January 18, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006:  stage 9

In the morning runners left at 7am from Bramans for the 9th stage. A stop at the Polar Basis around 9am and everybody left at 4:30pm to finish stage around 8pm. Magali started but Caroline decided to not run because her huskies was tired and had problems for adapting to new food. Besides Caroline has created her own company of nutrition for dogs. Within 5 years, she has multiply by 6 her sales turnover. For the last stage, she will certainly run and finish her Odyssée. Waiting, the other women were on the top : Magali and Tasha arrived ahead followed by Jacques, Ken and Gwen. The second part of the stage started at 4:30pm with a strong wind. Magali was the first to start because she was the first to arrive the day before. Next mushers are : Tasha, Jacques, Ken, Gwen, Giancarlo, Tim, Pierre Antoine, Jean-Philippe, Miguel, Thomas, Petter, Benoît and Daniel.

Around 7:30pm, Jacques' team arrived always followed by Ken Anderson. And the third musher to arrive is Tasha Strielstra, on the podium for the first time followed by Gwen Holdmann, who is now the third at the general results. Gwen is definitely always consistent. The evening finished by a lunch on the theme of "Defi pour la Terre" (Challenge for the earth) with the humorist Laurent Gerra.

Today, we'll know the winners for the 2nd session of La Grande Odyssée. The mushers have left Bessans for going to the first town of the departure : Val Cenis Lanslebourg. They have been run their last kilometers : 71 for the last stage and 2 400m of positive climb. We are waiting for the first around 1pm.

Zoom on volunteers...

There are approximately 40 for organizing the race on two weeks. They watch over the race, bring services as transport and logistics, take care of daily life and communicate about the race.

A lot of other volunteers from Portes du soleil or Haute Maurienne Vanoise domains and teams of ski resorts or tourism offices are mobilized on the race.


January 17, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006: Return on the stage 8 Sardières-Bramans

Sardières-Bramans - put the American competitors women of La Grande Odyssée forward. Gwen Holdmann is always ahead, at the fourth place and not far from Tim Hunt, arrived third. For her part, Tasha Stielstra is doing particularly at the 6th place.

Before running, Tasha had for first priority " to finish with a large smile " and to make proud her parents … They moreover accompanied her on La Grande Odyssée and do not stop encouraging her, distributing pencils branded Tasha to the children. Her objective will no doubt be affected …especially now, where she is not more than in 30 seconds of Thomas who suffers from a wound in the wrist, prevent him from steering its sled as he would wish it. But Daniel Juillaguet, arrived 7th, follows her by few with 4 minutes of distance, his best position on La Grande Odyssee on 2006 with the stage of Morzine too.

As for Magali Philip, she did not take the departure and Caroline Morin left only with six dogs, the others needing rest. Ken Anderson and Jacques Philip always remain ahead always aiming at both the 1re places. The suspense takes place more for the 3rd stage.


January 17, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006: Departure of the stage 8 – Sardières – Bramans

On the plateau of Sardières, the 8th stage of La Grande Odyssée takes the departure of the Chalet Nordique at the level of the Monolith, impressing rocky block of about 100 metres high. They are only 14 mushers to leave in the direction of Bramans, Magali Philip not taking the departure today, exhausted by the previous stages. Her dogs get back besides of their fatigue stressed by dehydrated, current situation at this stage of the race. On the line, mushers leave with a maximum of 8 dogs (on 12 authorized dogs), 7 for Petter and Benoît, only 6 for Caroline. Such a constitution of team is revealing of the tiredness of the teams because mushers choose to leave more dogs with to have a rest with their handlers.

About the difficulty of this set, the Catalan Miguel-Angel, 11th in the general ranking, tells us its impression: "although the topography of the track is more clement in Haute Maurienne Vanoise, nevertheless the technical operations on certain hillsides and bends still difficult to manage. Here, it is just the number of kilometres of efforts which change: we also suffer but not for a long time ". He analyzes besides the race as a constant challenge between the leaders: " a strong fight between Jacques and Ken. Jacques is going to have to work hard to keep his place, it is great to have such challengers ".

Dominique Grandjean, director of the race, recognizes the courage of all the mushers which keep a very good mental, in spite of the tiredness and the small injuries. He notably greets Thomas Hoffman who took the departure of this day with a big bandage in the forearm, hid under its thicknesses of clothes.

Caroline Morin always suffers from a flu which not allowed her to express herself completely, especially in the ascents where it is necessary to grow or to skate helping dogs. Indeed, she has difficulty in breathing and she lets her dogs make the effort. For her, the most important is to participate in all the stages not to be relegated to the depths of the ranking.

Concerning the results, Jacques Philip still the first in the general ranking, followed by Ken Anderson 41 minutes behind. Tim Hunt, is 3rd at 3 hours 36 min behind Ken. Gwen always threatens Tim's place challenging him with 2 small minutes of intervals, so eyeing up the podium.


January 17, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006: 2nd part of stage 7–  Base Polaire – Aussois

This morning, after a snowy night, our mushers left Polar Base at 8 am, Ken Anderson left in first place was always first of the race. At 10:58, Ken and Philip crossed the arrival line together.

5pm, the mushers will leave towards Sardières for the 8th stage for intermediate arrival at Bramans around 6:30pm. They will sleep there. Wednesday, they will leave this town to finish the 8th stage at the Polar Basis.

ZOOM !! "Patience and love for training a lead dog" by Thomas Morin, handler and Caroline Morin's husband, the Canadian musher.

- "First, we have to choose it". The dog belongs to a pack, it's interested in other dogs and not the musher. He studies dogs which like contacts with man, which looks for kisses and stays near the musher. "If the dog prefers you over the pack, it's a sign that he could become a good lead dog but it's not sure".

-Next dogs is trained to stay near the musher and face to him because the dogs is always in front of the team. "The dog must love you but not follow you. It must look in the same direction as the musher and always go ahead and not follow you if you leave". In order to use the dog, Thomas has his method : he cherishes it during 15/20 minutes, 4 to 5 times a day and when he leaves, the dog must continue to look ahead and not follow the musher even with its glance.

-When it is used to that and when winter come, the dog learns right and left. "The stop is the last thing we teach for avoiding pile-up with other dogs." With a lot of cherish, more than food, and without never shouting, the dog learn "dje" and "awe" for right and left.

- Next the dog is considered "more than a VIP". It eats first, it's harnessed first and unharnessed last. In contrary to classical ideas, a lead dog is not inevitably   dominant.

- Then, like a king, the dog is harnessed in a team with 4 dogs or 6 or 8. "To 10 m from you, the dog obey less. There we can see if it's a good leader."

According to Thomas, the husky is clever, that's why it's difficult to educate it. It anticipates a lot. "We need 2 or 3 years for educating a lead dog and Caroline and me are always surprised by dogs, we always learn too".


January 16, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006: Mass start à Bessans – Start of the Stage # 7: Bessans - Polar Base

The day of January 16th was the mass start day - the departure in parallel of all the teams- from Bessans. The teams went through 129 km and 4 300 m of positive climb, crossing Bonneval-sur-Arcs, one of the most beautiful villages of France, to go towards the bivouac of the Polar Base and restart this morning to finish at Aussois at 11 hours. Flashback on this impressive start.

The hour of the go comes, 15 lanes of snow are built, mushers prepare their dogs, the crowd arrives around barriers on 300 metres long and 50 metres wide, shaking hats and scarves.

Laurent Gerra, the famous humorist, and sponsor of the Challenge for La Dent Parachée (mountain of Haute Maurienne Vanoise) is ready to throw the departure. Denis Loboda, the Race Marshall, is " very excited." All the mushers and their impatient dogs take position one after the other on their lane. Then the mass start where some 150 dogs dash side by side in more than 30 kph.

Giancarlo Cattaneo quickly takes the lead for some kilometres. He was however caught up by Jacques Philip and Ken Anderson at Bonneval sur Arc, mushers two side by side for the leadership. Gwen Holdmann does not give attention to her third place at the general ranking of the last stage, because there is a long way to run yet. She has a simple goal for the race: “be consistent”.

She shows moreover her regularity during the race by raising gradually the teams in front of her by taking place in 3rd place, behind Jacques and Ken. Caroline Morin, brave, as usual, stay at the end of the pack.

It still remains to run the 2nd part of the stage, after the bivouac, to know who will go up on podium.


January 15, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006: Departure of the stage 6 – Lanslebourg – Sardières

The fifteen mushers of this 2nd set took the departure on Sunday morning in the center of Val- Cenis-Lanslebourg, covered with snow the day before on 400 m of length. The crowd was there, particularly dense, to applaud mushers all along the trail around the village. A special spectator was also of the part: Laurent Gerra, sponsor of the Challenge for La Dent Parrachée (read the next focus), and in love with the Haute Maurienne, attended the start. Admiring, he knelt down under the arc of La Grande Odyssée to observe the power of the dogs before their strong starting up.

All the mushers was touched by the reception and the interest of the Mauriannais for the sleds dogs sport. Ken Anderson, 2nd in the general ranking, showed delight with all these encouragements which stimulate the competitors, deserving of the biggest race such as Iditarod. Very satisfied of his personal first part of the race at Les Portes du Soleil, he still targets the first step of the final podium. At less than an hour off the first, he seriously threatened Jacques Philip…to follow on live on www.grandeodyssee.com 

Stop at the Polar Base of Val Cenis
It is at the exit of the chair lift of La Ramasse that the Polar Base sets up discreetly at 2 084 m, protected by ramparts of snow. The tents are covered with a white net dedicated to conceal the presence of the camp, as in real situation of military operation of 13 ° Mountain infantrymen's battalion (BCA). Various shelters snow and trenches, in the entrance of the Base, welcome the public curious to discover the heart of profession to the 13°BCA, and their capacities of fight in mountain. In the center of the Base various interactive animations and demonstrations take place (initiation into the ARVA, the ballad in rackets, observation of firing training with the 13th BCA).

Quietly installed and naturally resistant in the "polar" cold reigning on the Base by - 20 °, dogs wait for the departure in their improvised niche of straw. Some mushers also take advantage of it to take a deserved rest, wrapped up around their dogs. The schedule of the departure of the 2nd part of this 6th stage was delayed by one hour and a half, the loop of the Petit Mont Cenis having been cancelled due to the lack of snow. The mushers are still expected towards 19h30-20h at Sardières. In spite of the 70 kph wind and the temperature, the public is present for this departure. Snow, cold, wind: the cocktail of this stage is perfect according to Tim Hunt, 5th in the general ranking. This opinion is not shared by Pierre-Antoine Héritier, for whom the wind was a constraint with which it is necessary to count for the continuation of the stage.

Suite of the stage from Base Polaire to Sardières
After a departure of the Polar Base, the teams run in towards Sardières for a race of 93 km of effort at 2 500 m of positive climb by crossing by the Chemin de l’Escargot (track of snail) and crossing the lake until Savalin, then Termignon, Sollières Envers, Bramans and Aussois.

Jacques Philip, left four places behind Ken, did not stop challenging him during the stage. He finally caught him up thanks to the power of his dogs which allowed him to arrive close to Ken to the approach of the Monolithe, by arriving on Sardières. The fight between both first ones in the general classification is to be watched for the rest of the race. As well, Gwen Holdman is a serious competitor: she is now on the third stage on general Podium of the stage 6: Ken Anderson, Jacques Philip et Giancarlo Cattaneo.


January 14, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006 - The day before the 2nd session

The day of Friday was dedicated to the transfer of the teams and the organization towards Haute Maurienne Vanoise for the second session of La Grande Oydssée. The departure of the 6th stage will leave on Sunday at 11 am off the main street of Val Cenis Lanslebourg, specially snowed. Mushers and their athletes were so able to benefit from two well deserved days of rest.

They arrived rested in the briefing of Saturday morning and in the opening ceremony the same evening. This day, numerous entertainments cheered up the site of the departure of this second set. The Odyssée des enfants (for children) was moreover a strong moment of the afternoon. This race intended for the youngest was organized on the plateau of Sardières and made discover to young mushers the sensations of driving a sled pulled by dogs in a context of initiation and competition. A selection of Graduated of the French Union of the Sports of Sleds so run into the race by magnificent time encouraged by their families.

Ken Anderson, 2nd in the general classification, made a discreet passage when Stanislas Braconnier, young winner of this new edition, rose on the 1re walk of the podium. Chocolates and vins chauds were offered by the Tourist information office, and warmed the competitors and the public at the end of the race.

The Odyssée des enfants finally ended with more than 70 baptisms of mushing sleds with dogs, the youngest taking place in the basket, the older, from 11 to 16 years old driving him.

Among the entertainments, the championships of Savoie of KO sprint took place at Val Cenis. During the opening ceremony of the second session, yesterday in the evening, the mushers gave their feeling about the first week.

Caroline Morin, the Quebecan, and Tasha Stiesltra, the American, enjoyed about the first session. According to them, the race and specially the stages and its environment, correspond to their expectations. The preparation of the trails were very good too. Daniel Juillaguet shared his interest too for this kind of race which emphasizes a sporting aspect of sled dogs activity. Magali Philip, the French woman from Alaska, announced her happiness to come back in Haute Maurienne after 15 years.

Discover the Polar Basis of the 13th BCA :

"Live and fight in mountain ", such is the slogan of 13 ° Mountain infantrymen's battalion (BCA) which mobilizes again to support La Grande Odyssée.

From 14 till 20 January, the 13th BCA take their winter district on Cou du Mont Cenis at 2 500 m of height. Their mission: give to La Grande Odyssée their skills and knowledge for the life, the logistics and fight in mountain’s area. Through the construction of a polar base, they will so permit the competition to take place in high height.

Accessible on foot or in rackets(snowshoes) *, the polar base is opened to the public. It is organized around a polar village (with zones of accommodation and restoration) and a zone of animations and demonstrations of specific activities of the 13th BCA :

- visit of the polar base driven by the 13°BCA
- initiation in search of the missing persons in case of avalanche (on real simulator) ;
- participation in the construction of shelter of snow in full mountain ;
- ballad in rackets ;
- observation of the training of firings on simulators ( STCAL)
- demonstration of ski joring, technical of fast movement of the mountain infantrymen.

Attn : Tourisme Office of Val Cenis: Marie-Jo Suiffet: 04 79 05 23 66 13°BCA: Captain Véronique Cascio: 06 87 87 99 61


January 12, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006 - End of the first set - Departure of the stage 5 – Chatel-Avoriaz

The teams left this morning the col Bassachaux towards Avoriaz. They ended the fifth and last step of the Portes du Soleil area, a very exhausted and effort demanding road.

Pierre-Antoine Héritier, from Switzerland, was slightly ahead Benoît Bar at the last meters of the race, when he fairly reduced his speed to take the hand of his competitor and finish together this step.

Petter Karlson climbing the Col du Cou
Photo provided by Cellule Communication La Grande Odyssée
Petter Karlson climbing the Col du Cou
(click on photo for larger view)

Magali Philip, French women living in Alaska, did not finish the race since she unfortunately fell down. Emil Inauen from Switzerland, leading the ranking of the last steps, also went out the road at the Mosses. And Petter Karlson did not do this step of the race because of his feeling ill, he indeed preferred to rest and to prepare his dogs for the next step.

All the competitor do now feel the tiring feelings of the ending steps. At Avoriaz, Tim Hunt, the American vet, seems very happy to eventually managed to come up with this first challenge. As for Nichoals Akers, the only English man in the race, he couldn't resume the competition because of his fall the last January, the 8th, though he remains positive and ambitious for the next Grande Odyssée 2007.

Results of the first step
The podium and the awards ceremony of the Portes du Soleil step took part at 6.00pm in front of the Tourism office. Jacques Philip is the winner of the step, with a time of 20h58min01s, followed by Ken Anderson (21:49:13) and Thomas Hoffman (23:46:52). Gwen Holdmann is the fourth one, she slightly missed the third step. The rule is the following : the winner is the musher who ends the largest number of steps within the shortest time (including times penalties). The remaining competitors are ranked given the number of ended steps and the related total time. In so far as those who end a larger number of steps would be ranked ahead those who end less steps. This very rule explains especially the ranking of Petter Karlson, at the 15th rank despite his bad previous results.

The mushers and the dogs have two days to rest and fuel with new energy so as to prepare the second stage composed of five steps. It will start Sunday, January the 15th, at 11.am, in the countrytown of Lanslebourg. Competitors face several steps ahead : Lanslebourg, la Base Polaire ValCenis, Sardières, Bessans, Aussois, etc.

All the programme on : http://www.grandeodyssee.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=79&Itemid=270

All the results on : http://www.grandeodyssee.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=263&Itemid=319


January 11-12, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006 – Stage 5 Chatel-Avoriaz

The mushers have left Chatel yesterday afternoon by the lake of Vonnes.

This stage will take place in 2 steps. They went up to “Col de Bassachaux” where they spent the night at the out camp set-up by the French Army from Annecy. They actually run the second part and their arrival to Avoriaz is planned for Thursday morning.

Yesterday evening, we got 2 incidents. Magali Phillip (France) went out of the trail in the Vorraz area, in Chatel. Emil Inauen (Switzerland), leader of the overall ranking, also went out of the trail at Les Mosses.

Thanks to the GPS tracking system, CarteCom (BAYO), the committee was able to immediately locate the exact place of these incidents and send the Chatel Rescue Teams on site.

Both of them went to the hospital at Thonon-les-Bains. After medical exams, Magali came back to Avoriaz during the night. Regarding Emil, the results of the exams are good and given the late timing, he spent the rest of the night at the hospital under “observation”. Emil has already asked for information about the race and he is still very motivated, as usual.

These are the first incidents on La Grande Odysséee 2006 race. They gave the staff the opportunity to demonstrate the efficiency of the GPS and the coordination with the local rescue teams.

All mushers arrived during the night at the out camp and are actually running the second part of the race.

Have a great day.

Marc Burnier
Responsable Communication La Grande Odyssée
marc@grandeodyssee.com
+33(0)677588253


January 10, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006 : bulletin n°4 – January, Tuesday 10th

After the first race Avoriaz-Avoriaz of 51 km, mushers and dogs went back to their cages to rest. Jacques Philip, French from Alaska, was the winner of the first stage. The race was good and finished at 9 pm. The work done by AVoriaz' team was very impressive for the mushers and the landscape was wonderful, so Tasha Stliestra took pictures during her race. Miguel-Ange MArtinez, Spanish, arrived in 14th place, was very impressed by the staff's information for a foreigner.

Only problem, Nicholas Ackers's fell and hurt his thigh. Barbara Inauen, doctor and Emil's wife, took care of him. This pain prevents him to participate to the 2nd stage but he'll be back soon. In this case, he'll get 150% of the slowest candidate's time.

For the vets, just little traumas because of going up and down. On going down, the dogs have to lean back specially because they are used to flat countries.

A Benoit Bar's dog sprained her ankle, in a hole of snow, and she didn't want to run anymore and she lied down. So she finished the race in the basket and Benoît the joker hid behind his sled. After words, he shouted to his dogs : "Let's go to bed!"

Departure of the second stage
27th BCA’s fanfare announces the departure from Les Gets resort and calls the public. Daniel, the speaker, greets the crowd just behind the barriers, kids from the village schools were just in front of the line and we could hear dogs' of the first musher barking to go : Giancarlo Cattaneo, Italian, ready to enter on the trail. As each stage's departure, the first to go is in fact the last to arrive at the last one. Julien Absalon, World and Olympic mountain bike champion is ready, to give the "go" : "I know this competition spirit. Mushers and their pack are one and me and my bike are also one. It's another environment which gives me oxygen before the next season." The go given, the 17 mushers are leaving every 2 minutes. For the last of them, the crowd encourages him and shakes hats and scarves.

This stage is the most difficult With 74 km and 2 700 m of positive climb and its bivouac. Benoit Bar is prepared because he has chosen the most experienced dogs, only male which are more resistant and tough. He is just worried about the trail : "On along climb, dogs walk with efforts and can be bored. The musher could be too." According Jean-Philppe, the mental is good, he always want to take pleasure before everything. Dogs and mushers are in harmony and they are both to face ready this hard event with his well chosen team.

The beauty of the sunny landscapes of Pays de Savoie and specially the highest French summit : the Mont Blanc, will certainly please the mushers. There is a beautiful crossing in the resort behind the Maison des Gets, with a torch lit descent. Next the mushers go into Lairon for a bivouac, in collaboration with 27th BCA. They leave in the morning in the order of the arrival at the bivouac to finish the stage.

All the results on www.grandeodyssee.com

Marc Burnier
Responsable Communication La Grande Odyssée
marc@grandeodyssee.com
+33(0)677588253


January 8, 2006: La Grande Odyssée 2006: Bulletin n°3 – January, Sunday 8th

Sunday, departure’s day, Avoriaz is dressing up with its winter coat, at the heart of a “trappers village”, full of tipis, fire, igloos, in line with the rhythm of the 27th Bataillon des chasseurs alpins. The village is illuminated with boreal colors in a happiness atmosphere. Despite their happy feelings with the celebrations, the mushers feel the pressure increasing with the regard to the upcoming first departure. Tasha Stielstra, worried about the lake of mountain experience of her dogs, said that “the large number of visitors, curious to see and come close to the dogs, is stressing them up. They indeed feel that they are about to run”. On the other hand, Jacques Philip is quite optimist for the departure. He humorously confessed that “this year, I will strive to remain on the runaway”, reminding his disasterous ending last year. Giancardo Cattaneo remains peaceful and is waiting to enjoy the race with his dogs.

4.00 pm, people are massively coming all along the departure line. All the curious, passionate people of sled dogs’ race, gathering and waiting for the heroes of the day. Dominique Grandjean, the director of the race, is giving the last encouraging advice. Daniel Gainetdinoff, the animator, is using his microphone to present and encourage the teams. The chronos of Igor Simon and Patrick Vial are ready on.

On the parking area of the kennels, the dogs can no longer wait for the departure. Their long travel is worthwhile since they are about to start the great and long-waiting adventure. Mushers is encouraging and taking care of their dogs.

In the countrytown, the team of Antoine Héritier is about to start, full of enthusiasm and challenging feelings. All the departures were sorting out the during the opening ceremony of La Grande Odysee, and one after another, every two minutes, a departure is given.

4.30 pm, the dogs are on the starting blocks, ready and go ! The dogs of Pierre-Antoine Héritier are going straight ahead, with a speed of 20 kilometers per hour.

Mountains are welcoming almost 250 dogs, happy to run alongside them, directed by the ensuring voice of the musher : “yap yap” is the scream for launching the departure, “djee” for going right, “ha” for going left … and so on up to the end of the first step. The arrival of the first “arrival”.

Teams are coming from all over the world to take part to the alpinest sled dogs race : Alaska, Quebec, Laponie, Lombarie, Catalogne, Romand Switzerland, Jura, Oxford. Mushers are gathering at La Grande Odysée in order to share their passion of this sport.

Results of the first stage

At 8.13 pm, 66 kilometers later and 2 100 meters of physical efforts, the first team is coming back in front of the Avoriaz Tourism Office. Jacques Philip is the first winner, ending the step in 2.59 mn with all his dogs at the arrival. The next two teams were Emil Inaeun and Ken Anderson. The final results of this stage will be giving after a calculation which needs the arrival of all the teams.

For his part, Giancarlo Cattaneo from Bergamo, who started in 5th position, got some bad experience few kilometers after the departure. At a cross road, his dog team decided to follow the road rather than the trail. Giancarlo felt down and is lightly injured. On the other side, his dog went on his own for 2 kilometers till it got stopped by Giancarlo's handler and brought back to the crossroad.

As per the rules, the musher had to start from the place where he felt down. Since then, everything is OK with Giancarlo. Nicolas Akers has some difficulties and is lightly injured. He was taken care by the team.

In the arrival of the competitors, the vets of La Grande Odyssée verifie that dogs were not changed by controlling the electronic chips. They examine besides dogs to reveal possible wounds or tracks of get tired requiring some rest.

Will the step of tomorrow at the Gets be as challenging as today's? Let see what will happen tomorrow and meet at 2.00 pm, at the countrytown of the Gets, specially prepared with snow. A departure not to miss.

Top 3 of the stage:

1) Jacques Phillip : 2h59mn28s
2) Petter Karlsson : 3h06mn12sec
3) Ken Anderson : 3h26mn27sec

All the results on www.grandeodyssee.com

Marc Burnier
Responsable Communication La Grande Odyssée
marc@grandeodyssee.com
+33(0)677588253


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