Looking for winter sports with a bite!
Switzerland has a lot more to offer in winter than just the normal skiing, snowboarding and sledding. One of my favourites is the Dog Sled Racing which takes place throughout the region from January to March. The races are not just Swiss affairs but can call themselves truly international, as participants come from all over Europe and sometimes even from Canada to race. Dog Sled Racing came to Switzerland in the end of the 1950’s where the dogs and sledges were imported into the country. Soon after, the first competitions were set up.
The races come in a variety of distances and the number of dogs pulling the sleds. That’s good for the spectators as the can decide how long they want to walk. At every competition between 500 and 1000 dogs can be running in the different age categories which can include children, teenagers and adults in the disciplines of joering and sleds with up to ten dogs.
My favourite race is the one in Studen – only an hour from Zurich. One can walk along the track and can see more than just the start and finish, but the fascinating co-operation between the Mushas and the dogs. Skills and speed must be perfectly co-ordinated to win these races. Studen is also the place for the purebred dogs such as Alaskan Malamutes, Greenland Dogs and Samoyeds and of course the Siberian Husky.
Those beauties can be admired in the dog Stake-Out Area which is always a real attraction. Here you can see the how the dogs are prepared for the race and how they recover after the races, but moreover you can hear them as their excitement is literally in the air.
The next races will be in Lenk, Gadmen and in San Bernardino. The world championship takes place this year in Oberwiesenthal, Germany at the end of February. Beginning of March the last race will take place in the French speaking part of Switzerland.
Sabina Herbst & Oscar Friesen