The Whiteout Racing Kennel is race-ready, despite the cancelation of key sled dog racing events this year.
Owner and operator Christina Gibson was prepared to compete with her team this year in the triple crown 100-mile races: Eagle Cap Extreme, Idaho Sled Dog Challenge, and Race to the Sky. After those events, her plan was to compete in her first-ever 200-mile race in the Canadian Challenge.
All four events were canceled this year as planners realized the challenges of keeping teams and communities safe from COVID.
Gibson said the cancelations were a disappointment, but she is grateful to spend days on the trails with her dogs, whether they are training or not. The dogs clearly love racing and competing. For Gibson, the emotional disappointment is for her four-legged teammates: “Dogs have a short life span. This is potentially the last season for older racing dogs,” she said.
The Whiteout Racing team made key changes to the lineup this year. Oaken retired to a home, to enjoy life with an active family as a pet. Brother transitioned to a different sled dog team to help train younger lead dogs. Rubicon, the standout star from last season, is taking on more lead responsibilities. New to the team this year is Windshear, who is 3 years old and expecting her first litter of pups this spring.
“I’m building my team,” said Gibson, who lives on Libby Creek. “Most dogs on my team are 6 years old. By the time the pups are fully trained and race-ready at 2 years old, the more mature dogs can retire.”
Whiteout Racing Kennel has two new handlers this year: Emily VanMarter and Aidan Torres. They are learning to run the sled dogs for next season. Despite the event cancelations this year, the team will continue to train by using shorter runs to increase their speed.
Although races are on hold this year, the experience does not set Gibson back in her own goals. She has been informed that she still qualifies to compete in the 300-mile Race to the Sky next season, as she demonstrated that she and her team are ready and experienced.
To book a presentation, sponsor a dog, or learn more about the team, visit http://www.whiteoutracingkennel.com. Follow all the team on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/WhiteoutRacingKennel; and on Instagram, @whiteoutracingkennel.