This year, the race was an official World Cup stage for the first time ever.Before the event, Vladimir Putin sent his greetings to all its participants.
“Sled dog racing is a tradition of the northern peoples as well as a dynamic and beautiful sport which attracts more young competitors from all over the world every year”, the President wrote in a telegram.
Racers and their husky and Alaskan Malamute dogs competed in the two-day MID race (over 40 km). Russia showed top results in skijoring, a winter sport where a skier is pulled by a dog.
Sergey Bespalov from the Leningrad region was first in the two-dog routine while Andrey Mikheev of Moscow - in singles.
The six- and eight-dog races are the most spectacular ones. Pavel Pfeifer who is in the sport for already 27 years showed the best time covering 85 km in less than 4 hours.
He was followed by Karelia’s Alexander Stolyarov whose dogs, unluckily, were too exhausted to make it to victory.
Every year, the race attracts thousands, says its organizer Viktor Simonov.
"At first the weather was -19 C then it got warmer up to -14. It was very sunny. On the first day we saw 4,000 spectators. The Czech, who won the eight-dog event, showed great speed especially across this complicated route."
The International Federation of Sleddog Sports wants it to become an Olympic event by 2022 as it’s more than a beautiful tradition but a real sport practiced not only in the north. Thus, Rustam Agaev from the southern city of Volgodonsk trains his dogs in his hometown. He says that not the weather by hierarchy matters as the lead dog should be put in front. However, even the strongest dogs don’t guarantee victory while dog drivers also make mistakes.
"This time I took part in the eight dog event-it’s not that easy but the dogs run faster. Racing dogs are trained since puppyhood but any race is unpredictable. Dogs can change their mind or stop all of a sudden."
The winners of the Karelia race will take part at the World Championships held in Alaska.