Sled Dog Classic cancelled

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It appears the Canmore Sled Dog Races have made their final howl.

With not enough interest shown to support the town’s annual dog classic, the Alberta International Sled Dog Association (AISDA) has been forced to cancel the 2008 races, and it now seems the 2009 competition could be annulled as well.

The AISDA held its annual general meeting at the Rec Centre on Tuesday night (Nov. 13) in search of committed individuals who want to ensure the dog races continue in Canmore; however, only one person showed interest.

“There’s a lot of frustration,” AISDA secretary treasurer Bert Jansen said. “People don’t mind coming out to volunteer their time when the race gets closer, and that’s all well and good, but we need a core of people to do the actual planning. And we don’t have that right now.

“It’s like pulling teeth,” he added. “We would need at least eight to 10 people on a committee, and approximately another 120 volunteers. We’re obviously not even close. We were hoping to see how much interest there was going to be, so we could start thinking ahead to 2009, but it’s definitely not looking good right now.”

According to AISDA director Karen McMillan, the association has tried everything to spread the word throughout town, but to no avail.

“Last year we even put ads in the high school, thinking that it would be an awesome way for students to receive their volunteer hours,” she said. “And we had no response.”

The biggest problem the association has presently is that they don’t have any dog sled people on the committee, AISDA director Martin Dorfman said. Last year’s AISDA president Rich Bittner, owner/operator of Howling Dog Tours, decided to step down due to the event coinciding with his business’ prime season.

“I understand the business pressures they have. That’s their bread and butter,” Dorfman said. “I have no hard feelings towards them. They were great supporters and worked tirelessly, but it has definitely made it a lot harder for us.”

Jansen said he feels for the dogs more than anything else.

“The dogs are the true sportsmen,” he said. “They don’t care about organizing… they just love to run. And it’s exciting to see. I get tears in my eyes when I watch these dogs wanting to pull.”

For more information and/or to contact the Alberta International Sled Dog Association, visit www.canmoresleddograces.com or call 609-2134.

Source: Rocky Mountain Outlook

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