Mushing season starts after month of weather delays

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FAIRBANKS - First it was too cold. Then it was too warm. Well, now the weather is just right for dog mushers to begin racing in Fairbanks.

Racing organized by the Alaska Dog Musher's Association has finally kicked off with a series of weekend competition.

The delays lasted more than one month, organizers said.

It started with a cold snap featuring extreme temperatures that gripped much of the state for more than two weeks.

In the Fairbanks area, temperatures never rose above 20 below zero for 16 straight days, beginning Dec. 27.

Temperatures even dipped to nearly 50 below zero during that stretch. Such temperatures not only grounded planes and kept people inside, it also keept mushers off the snow trails.

"It's a bummer, but that's the way it is," co-organizer George Salmon said. "People understand."

Those frigid temperatures were followed by warmer temperatures that turned snow into ice and left mushers and skiers with little time to train.

This also meant dogs' bones grew creaky while they waited.

"They get out of shape pretty quick," said Scott Campbell of his dogs shortly after winning the race's three-dog skijoring contest.

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