Too much snow? Frazee sled dog races canceled out of concern for the dogs
Here's another entry for the annals of noteworthy winter weather: The dogsled race near Frazee has been canceled because there's too much snow.
Too much fluffy snow that keeps drifting and therefore made it impossible to maintain a groomed trail.
That poses a safety risk to the dogs, supercharged canines whose mushers need a groomed trail to drop a hook to stop when necessary.
"We can't pack it," race organizer Eddy Streeper said Monday. "We just can't get it packed. We had to speak up on behalf of the dogs."
The Third Crossing Sled Dog Rendezvous, slated for Jan. 23-24, would have been the ninth annual running of the sprint races, which twice were canceled for lack of snow.
This winter, as anyone with a driveway knows, has been a season of prodigious snows.
The Frazee area has received about 3 feet of snow, but winds keep creating drifts of 4 feet or more over the course, which was to host races of four to 14 miles.
"The drifting aspect is just unbelievable," said Streeper, a native of Canada who has been involved with dogsled racing for 25 years. "I've never seen anything like it."
The National Weather Service doesn't tally snow accumulations and moisture content for Frazee. But snowfalls in Fargo, 54 miles to the northwest, have totaled 39.3 inches since October, with 2.37 liquid inches.
That translates into a moisture content of 6 percent - snow is considered wet at around 30 percent to 35 percent. That dry, fluffy snow is just too deep.
Cancellation of the dog races is a blow to Frazee, population 1,374. Last year's two-day event drew 2,000 to 3,000 spectators, and contestants come from as far as Alaska, five Canadian provinces and five or six states.
"This is the NASCAR of sled-dogging, the sprint ones," said Gale Kaas, Frazee Sled Dog Club secretary.
"We'll try again next year," Streeper added. "We'll see what the weather does to us." Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522