Whiteout Racing Kennel’s young owner and operator, Christina Gibson, has her eye on the Rocky Mountain Triple Crown this winter. Christina and her well-trained team of Alaskan Huskies have hit the ground running, training in the upper reaches of Libby Creek for this winter season of dog sled races.
The Rocky Mountain Triple Crown is comprised of three prominent race events traversing the Rocky Mountain white-capped peaks. All three races are qualifiers for the “last great race on earth,” the Iditarod.
Beginning in late January, the team will travel to Oregon to compete in the Eagle Cap Extreme. The route has them racing through Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest within sight of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
The following week the team participates in the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge through the scenic mountains and lakes surrounding McCall, Idaho. Bonus points: McCall’s annual, not-to-be-missed Winter Carnival with fantastic ice sculptures happens the same week, Jan. 24 – Feb. 2.
The final leg of the Rocky Mountain Triple Crown is the breathless Race to the Sky in Montana.
This year, the Whiteout Racing team grew four more sets of racing paws. Christina’s mushing mentor, Laura Daugerau, announced her retirement. Four of her dogs — Bogus, Farce, Bear and Bo’sun — will continue racing with their siblings in Christina’s pack.
Fifteen dogs are currently in training for race season, with 10 dogs acting as leads. Team members rotate positions during training so Christina can determine their individual strengths and where they run best in the team. Sisters Nellie and Sadie are strong lead dogs. Christina says, “you can see it in their expressions when we pass another team and when they see the finish line. Some dogs would care less, they just are having fun. But these two are focused, intelligent, driven. They love to lead and are competitive.”
The season kick-off starts with a warmup race in West Yellowstone. Christina’s mom, Emily, will be joining the action by mushing the second team of dogs. To date, Whiteout Racing Kennel’s longest race is 150 miles. This year, Christina has her eye on 200 – 250-mile races. “It is a new chapter for us. I am working towards bigger goals and longer races,” she said.
In previous years, Christina trained and raced with teams of 10 dogs. When asked how the training differs with 15 dogs, she said it is a lot easier, as the larger team gives all dogs more chances to try out different positions, and gives the 10 lead dogs a break and they get to spend time further back in the tethers. Fifteen dogs are “a lot more power,” she laughed, “we had to buy a more powerful quad,” to not only keep up with the team, but also brake that much dog power to a stop.
Team Whiteout for the 2019 – 2020 season is made up of Nellie, Farce, Sike, Rubicon, Brother, Bear, Bogus, Freckles, Bo’sun, Olaf, Oaken, Toby, Steamer, Robin Hood and Sadie.
To book a presentation, sponsor a dog, or learn more about the team, visit www.whiteoutracingkennel.com. Follow all the fun on Facebook, www.facebook.com/WhiteoutRacingKennel.
In other news, mark your calendars for an adults-only fund raiser for the Methow Valley Interpretive Center at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 at the Twisp Valley Grange — $10 cover charge with a drink ticket. Entertainment by Ken Bevis and Lauralee Northcott. Music, skits, fun, food, live auction and silent auction. Space is limited. Reserve your ticket now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.