Pilot Project with Mush Larose to introduce skijoring to the KN trails
On Wednesday evenings, starting January 6, Kanata Nordic and the Mush Larose dogsled club are kicking off a pilot project to introduce skijoring to the Kanata Nordic trails. Skijoring is a sport that combines cross-country skiing with dogsledding. A team of 1 or 2 dogs is harnessed to a skier. A small group of Mush Larose members have joined Kanata Nordic to gain access to a new groomed trail system for training. Some members of the group are hoping to be selected for the Canadian team that will be participating in the 2017 International Federation of Sleddog Sports World Championships that will be held in Haliburton, Ontario.
The skijorers will be taking steps to minimize the impact on other trail users. Teams will be limited to only 1 dog, the skiers will be using headlamps and will be attaching bells to their equipment. The group will be limiting the number of teams on the trail system to 5 at any one time. The dogs on the teams will be experienced racing dogs, used to sharing trails with other users and passing other trail users. If a team comes up behind you, they will audibly let you know they are approaching and will slow down until there is a safe place to pass. They won’t be passing on steeper downhills or tight corners. If you are skiing in the classic tracks you can stay in the tracks while the teams pass. If you are skate skiing you can move to the right or into the classic tracks until the teams pass.
Feel free to say hello to the skijorers and ask questions about the sport if you are interested. The dogs being used on the Kanata Nordic trails will all be well behaved with people and other dogs, but keep in mind that they are working when they are in harness and won’t be interested in socializing when they are on the trails. They will want to be running and the skiers won’t want their racing dogs getting used to socializing when they are supposed to be working. If you would like to meet the dogs when the teams are getting ready to run or after they have finished, just ask the skiers if it is a good time to do so.
If you happen to be around the parking areas when the teams are getting ready to run, you will notice that the dogs could be exhibiting very different behaviors. Dogs, like people, express anxiety in different ways, but unlike a person, a dog doesn’t necessarily differentiate between training and racing so they can exhibit some anxious behaviors even before a training run. For instance, you may notice that some dogs bark and dance around while they are waiting to go. Other dogs are quiet and you may notice that their legs are trembling as the adrenaline starts pumping through their body. People not familiar with dogs may not understand the different behaviors and sometimes question whether the dog really wants to skijor. The key to knowing if a dog wants to participate in the sport or not is to watch them when they are running. Dogs that want to participate will run. Dogs that don’t won’t.
For the most part, the skijoring teams will be using the trails at the campground between 5:30 and 8:00 on Wednesday evenings, but from time to time you may see them on the equestrian park trails. They will be placing signs at trail heads to let other users know they are on the trails. They will also be present at the January 24th Snow Day to give demos and answer questions about the sport. They are grateful for the opportunity offered by Kanata Nordic to conduct a pilot project during the 2015/16 season and look forward to sharing the trails with you.