Sled-dog racing isn't quite Dogs Gone Wild!, but it's close. Hook a team of huskies to a sled with a yapping human, point them toward an open snowfield, and brother, stand aside. To see for yourself, haul your wagon to the seventh annual Colorado Blue Ididarace, today and tomorrow near Kremmling. "The dogs just love to run; they're born to run," says Andy Leonard of Parker, a sled-dog racer for the past 24 years. "They just get pumped. It's their natural instinct -- they're just so powerful." Leonard and his eight-dog team have taken top honors at Kremmling for the past four years, and he hopes to repeat that performance one last time before retiring at the end of the season.
A contest of speed, not endurance -- unlike its more famous relative, the multi-day Iditarod in Alaska -- the Colorado Blue is part of a national circuit that allows mushers and teams to rack up points for year-end standings. Combined with its $6,000 purse, this makes the competition a magnet for top dogs around the country. Racing starts at 9 a.m., when the four-, six- and eight-dog teams set off minutes apart on a track. Depending on the size of the team, they'll run anywhere from four to eight miles.
Because of a lack of snow in Kremmling this year, organizers have moved the race site 22 miles west of town on U.S. 40. "It's a spectacular setting," says Leonard.
Beacon Bowl highlights avalanche awareness
With dozens of outdoor experts on hand for the second annual Beacon Bowl and Avalanche Awareness Day, Arapahoe Basin will definitely be a safe place to ski or snowboard today. The Beacon Bowl, which starts at 10 a.m., will feature two categories of avalanche transceiver competitions: one for professionals and one for recreational backcountry skiers.
"It's amazing to watch, because everyone takes the competition very seriously," says A-Basin's Leigh Hierholzer. "There will be intense, desperate searches going on."
Beacon Bowl registration begins in A-Basin's A-Frame lodge at 8 a.m.; the fee is $5, and $30 discount lift tickets will be available to participants. All proceeds benefit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The Avalanche Awareness segment includes free transceiver clinics and telemarking and avalanche-gear demonstrations throughout the day. Avalanche-dog demonstrations will be held at the base area at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., and New Belgium Brewery will sponsor an après-ski party on the A-Frame's second floor.
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