Tongue-Tired Huskies & 6km Sled Dog Races Come to L’Aquila

Tongue Tired Huskies

Dog-sled is not something I’d imagine I’d be a spectator to,  but then Abruzzo throws up all sorts of unexpected surprises as ‘alternative’ days out which unsurprisingly perhaps weren’t ever on offer in London, but which can prove to be so much fun.

The EU WSA sled-dog championship had this year been transferred from just outside Oslo in Norway down to Campo Felice in L’Aquila in a wonderful show of support for the region, not least after so many have written it off as “where that terrible earthquake happened”.  It is wonderful for such events to be proving the region’s viability, attracting international attention & interest, and proving that life goes on and that it’s still a fantastic place to visit.

The event was hosted on the plains of the cross-country skiing favourite Campo Felice, 1520 masl, always an uplifting winter experience when you need to feel that the world is sparkly and pure as driven snow, and you’re enclosed by an enormous azure dome.  Like its sister Campo Imperatore but on a smaller scale, you get to feel that you have been transported somewhere between a lunar landscape and Little Tibet, with how the land has been eroded over the millennia.

Just down the road, traditional slope skiing and snowboarding is on offer for those that enjoy such pastimes; expect to see a few packed coaches from Rome here, as well as an area that offers Abruzzo’s best sledding with some amazing hills to hurtle down (you can hire a sled so no excuses for not reliving that exhilarating feeling from childhood!!).  Personally I want to go up there and try and a snow barbecue next time I visit the area.

Teh Race Boys

Instead of marvelling at the fitness of those Nordic cross country skiers this involved admiring the fluffy, lean huskies (the majority of dog type). It was the first time really seeing them up close for me and they are so much more wolf than dog.  Their excitement as they got harnessed into the sleds and ready to pull was so evident, they do get a load of treats on their return which could have something to do with it, but these dogs really appeared that they were looking forward to their 6km run in the snow which under an intense sun without a cloud in the sky and no wind is not something I’d have wanted to try in a furry coat!  Dog teams comprise 2, 4 or 6 dogs, and it was sweet each Musher (sledge dog driver) introduced their dog team by name as their holder rubbed snow onto their furry heads and throat to keep them cool in their excitement.

Something to recommend? Yes for sure, if such an event is on locally it’s worth a visit, something that is very different, and who would ever have thought that a dog’s excitement could be catching, if not you can always go to Campo Felice for a snowy walk and  imagine…

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Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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8 February 2011 08:00

I once saw sled racing with huskies in a wood just outside London, with the dogs pulling wheeled carts. Not quite the same…

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