HISTORY OF DOG SLEDDING|
Sled dogs were once one of the main methods of transportation in the Arctic regions of the world, long before snowmobiles and airplanes. Hundreds of years ago, dogs were used to pull cargo and people through the deep snows of many lands. Many researchers believe that life in these regions would not have even been possible without sled dogs. According to the International Federation of Sleddog Sports, "sled dog activities may have existed for almost as long as the relationship between dogs and humans, in the regions where snow was a seasonal probability." People used sled dogs to transport everything from mail to medicine.
Dog sledding was not only used for occupational activities but also recreational. One of the first dog sled races occurred sometime in the mid to late 1800's. In 1886 a sled dog race was featured at a Winter Carnival in Minnesota and continues even today. The Walt Disney movie Iron Will was based on the 1917 Winter Carnival race from Winnipeg to Saint Paul. With the Gold Rush in Alaska and the Yukon, the sled dog races in the north started attracting world wide attention. The first of these races, the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, was organized in Nome, Alaska.
In the 1920's returning gold miners brought sled dog racing to New England where it became very popular. The 1920's and 30's were the glory years for sled dog racing; business sponsorship helped to fund top professional mushers and allowed teams to travel across North America competing. The popularity of mushing and the news media coverage it attracted helped the development of the sport. In the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Olympic games Sled Dog Racing was featured as a demonstration sport and again at the 1952 Oslo Olympics. However, this time it was featured as a pulka race where the driver accompanies the dogs on skis behind a toboggan or pulka. In 1992, the International Federation of Sleddog Sports was officially incorporated as a way to focus the efforts of many national, local and international organizations on the goal of Olympic recognition and organization with other mainstream sports.
International Federation of Sleddog Sports
back  main
Copyright © 2003 artwork and photographs to D. Smith and C. Whitlock