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Team USA Selected for
2011 IFSS Winter World Championships in Norway

12/9/2010 | Sally Bair |

Team USA for IFSS WCh Norway

December 6, 2010, Monticello, MN Ė Mushing USA (MUSA), the national governing body of sled dog sports in the USA, has made its final selection for competitors to represent the USA in the IFSS (International Federation of Sleddog Sports) Winter World Championships in Norway in February and March, 2011. The Long Distance events will be in February in RÝros, and the Nordic and sprint sled classes will be in March in Hamar and Holmenkollen, near Oslo.

Selected are the following athletes:

  • John Thompson: Shoreview, Minnesota Ė menís Nordic 1-dog skijoring, menís Nordic 2-skijoring, menís Nordic combined (skijoring and pulka)
  • Scott Aimone: Divide, Colorado Ė menís Nordic 1-dog skijoring, menís Nordic pulka, menís Nordic combined (skijoring and pulka)
  • Jason Sperry: Mexico, New York Ė menís Nordic 1-dog skijoring, menís Nordic pulka, menís Nordic combined (skijoring and pulka)
  • Jim Benson: Blaine, Minnesota Ė menís Nordic 2-dog skijoring, menís Nordic 2-dog skijoring, menís Nordic pulka
  • Jake Robinson: Morris, Minnesota Ė menís Nordic 2-dog, menís 1-dog skijoring junior, menís Nordic Combined (skijoring and pulka)
  • Rebecca Knight: Wasilla, Alaska Ė womenís Nordic 1-dog skijoring, womenís 2-dog skijoring
  • Amy Cooper: Holmen, Wisconsin Ė womenís Nordic 1-dog skijoring
  • Janet Saxon: Golden, Colorado Ė womenís Nordic 1-dog skijoring
  • Katie Harris: lliff, Colorado Ė sled 4-dog sprint
  • Jenna Dittmar: Wausau, Wisconsin Ė sled 6 dog sprint
  • Stephanie Dwyer: Leadville, Colorado Ėsled 4 dog sprint
  • Dillon Gast: Randolph Center, Vermont Ė sled unlimited sprint, menís Nordic junior 1-dog skijoring
  • Rachael Scdoris: Bend, Oregon Ė sled long distance 8-dog

Some of these competitors will be transporting their own dogs to Norway, and some will be borrowing dogs from Europeans. Dillon Gast has been training in Europe this past winter and will be competing with Uli Kuhnís (Germany) dogs. Jenna Dittmar is living in England this year and looks forward to possibly having a few of her own dogs flown from USA but otherwise borrowing dogs from a Norwegian musher. Rachael Scdoris will be leasing a long distance team from Ketil Reitan of Norway but will be transporting her own leaders, Breeze and Wrinkles. Each musher will receive a monetary stipend from IFSS for travel and transporting dogs from the USA to Norway. Many of the athletes are also being sponsored by private companies and individuals.

Alaskaís skijorer Rebecca Knight is not only is exhilarated at being invited to be part of Team USA Ö "a great honor for me!" She states that "Just to have the opportunity to travel to the Ďcradleí of Nordic winter sports to experience such a gathering of skijorers, mushers, dogs and sled dog sport enthusiasts from around the globe is in itself tremendously exciting. To be able to participate as a racer in the skijoring class....well, Iíd have to say, will most likely be the pinnacle of my years as a musherÖIím eager to learn and absorb all that I can from others about the sport of skijoring while overseas and likewise share a bit of my knowledge gained over my nearly 20 years in Alaska which has provided me with some opportunities I feel I could not have experienced elsewhere."

John Thompson, being 100% Norwegian and looking forward to his second IFSS World Championship, canít wait to visit Norway. He is excited about competing against the best of the best. "I also enjoy meeting competitors from around the world who love dog powered sports. From past experience, itís humbling and exciting at the same time."

Scott Aimone, who has traveled to South America as well as competed in previous World Championships on behalf of IFSS, enjoys meeting "new people who are enthusiastic about their dogs and their sport is always a pleasure as well as an amazing learning experience. I would welcome the opportunity to go back to Norway, reconnect with old friends, observe how others in the world are advancing the understanding of dogsÖ I think that it is very important for this sport to demonstrate that small kennels such as mine can be competitive on the world stage. I believe that success does not come from numbers but rather from having a close relationship/bond with your dog in combination with a no-excuses, organized and disciplined approach to preparation and training."

Long distance competitor Rachael Scdoris, after competing in the Iditarod, is amazed at how few people realize that sled dogs even exist outside Alaska. "Competing in and promoting the Femundlopet would give me one more tool to peak peoplesí interests in sled dog sports." As a legally blind person, she will be competing with the adaptive aid of a companion team from Ketil Reidarís kennel.

One of the young members of Team USA is Jake Robinson, who says he "will be able to fulfill a life-long dream as well as share my experience with others as I promote the wonderful sport of mushing." He is also a previous IFSS champion, having earned a first place finish in the IFSS 2009 Daaquam (Quebec, Canada) World Championships in the Junior 1-dog skijoring class.

Dillon Gast, the youngest member of the USA competitors, is cognizant of the fact that few USA mushers have been represented in European competition in the unlimited sprint class. He is proud to be using a team from a very reputable European musher and previous unlimited IFSS gold world champion. "Allowing me to represent my country will show the world that the United States does have young competitors coming up in the near future. I have the knowledge, skill, and the ability to compete at this level. All I need is the opportunity to compete!"

Jenna Dittmar is equally as excited about going to Norway. "From this experience," she comments, "I hope to gain knowledge of different techniques used in sled dog sports abroad, forage international relationships, and ultimately be a part of a more unified organization that governs sled dog sports. A World Championship event of this calibre is the ideal place to forge international relationships, and advance sled dog sports globally."

Katie Harris reflects on her 2009 Daaquam IFSS World Championship, where she was amazed at "seeing all the competitors from all over the world, and getting to race against the best. I had never even been out the USA, and here I was getting to have dinner with the Norwegian team, learning about dog sledding in Jamaica, and getting to see classes I had only heard about, like pulka. I was proud of my teamís performance, but at the same time I came home with plenty of ideas on how we could do better. I learned a lot in Daaquam that I could bring back and share with others." She anticipates bringing home more learning tools and friends from Norway.

These worthy representatives of the USA all look forward to going to Norway and mixing with and learning from their peers from all over the world. Some will be spending some extra time traveling (and maybe some shopping?) and taking in the sights that such a beautiful winter wonderland presents.

MUSA congratulates these elite athletes and knows that they will be worthy representatives of the USA in competition against the many outstanding competitors from throughout the world. MUSA wishes them the very best fortune and looks forward to their tales from the trails of Norway.

[back to Headline News]

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