SODA SPRINGS — Unfavorable current and projected Sierra snow conditions have led to the cancellation of the Jack London Commemorative Sierra Sled Dog Derby, an official said.
The derby — which would have been the first sled dog race in Truckee/North Tahoe in 16 years — was scheduled for March 2-3 at Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort.
“Safety of the canine athletes is always our primary objective,” said Preston Springston, vice president of Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers, in a Saturday statement to the Sierra Sun.
“After careful assessment of trail characteristics, current conditions and projected weather, we found that we could not ensure our ability to conduct the race on the scheduled date in a manner that would guarantee safety for both the dogs and mushers.”
Last October, Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers, a California nonprofit, announced it had signed a deal with Sugar Bowl Resort (which owns Royal Gorge) to run the commemorative race.
According to various reports, sled dog races were a big part of Truckee’s history, as the first sled dog race in the “lower 48” was held in the community in 1915 and was attended by Jack London.
Mushing continued to be popular in the region throughout the 20th century, highlighted by annual races starting in 1979 at Truckee Tahoe Airport. However, chronically poor snow coverage forced many races to be canceled, and the last was held in 1997.
In Monday’s statement, Springston thanked a slew of volunteers and businesses offering support, including: WellPet/Eagle Pack Dog Food, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, Sierra Pet Clinic, Mark Tanner Construction, Mountain Home Center, Don’s Welding, Stone’s Tire, B&B Plumbing, The Real Graphic Source, Pet Station and Branded Screen Printing.
“We appreciate the planning, operational support and wonderful venue that were offered to us by Sugar Bowl Resort and Royal Gorge XC,” Springston added.