Haliburton Forest readies for 2017 championships 

By Darren Lum

Everything appears to be a go for the upcoming IFSS World Championship 2017 Snow event.

That’s the overall sentiment after the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve held its Sleddog Fun Race in preparation for the world event. Karen Koehler a Carnarvon resident and three-time world championship skijorer has been actively engaged in bringing this event to her backyard in an effort to showcase the sport she loves.

There were strong indicators from this fun event that she chose the right venue to host some of the best skijorers and mushers from around the world she said.

“The best thing was that it can work” she said. “It definitely was cool to see how well it could work.”

Skijoring is a sport where the athlete competes on Nordic skis while being pulled by one or two dogs.
The fun event included 29 competitors who dogsledded and skijored at the forest. There were three different courses (11 kilometre 13.8 kilometre and 40 kilometre).

Haliburton Forest’s Tegan Legge who is the world championship lead organizer for the site said it was great to hear the positive feedback from competitors at the fun event.

“The big thing for us was to hear the excitement of the competitors” she said.

Koehler appreciates the great effort of the staff.

Legge thanked championship consultant and provincial race marshal Jim Cunningham and timer Sal Saffonie for helping with the event.

She said the plan for the world event is based on the expectation there will be more than 300 athletes from 20 countries including up to 3000 people coming on the weekend alone during the nine-day event.

There are plans to have separate parking for the competitors and their trailers and the spectators.

Shuttle vehicles will be provided. Legge adds plans for entertainment is being considered.

This venue offers unique conveniences such as the seminar building which could be used as a main meeting area. In Koehler’s experience other world championship venues can’t compare. Usually it’s a tent or just outside.

Last year when Haliburton was announced as the world championship host by IFSS president Helen Lundberg it was revealed this would be the first time that a venue will have all the classes – sprint skidog mid-distance and long-distance.

Koehler said the start/finish line is still being finalized but for the larger field event and smaller field events it will be somewhere on the main road accessed by the parking lot past the main office.

She said the event revealed certain areas of the course if used for the worlds need to be widened for skijorers.

The event was held with the snowmobile network open to the public which it won’t be during the world championship.

Koehler realizes there is always  a learning curve with anything new.

There will be an effort to ensure volunteers are positioned at key corners to make sure competitors are being directed properly.

Conditions this year have been far from ideal for winter activities in Haliburton County. However at the Forest the event was held with little difficulty and was a good sign.

“We were OK. If next winter is this bad we know we can hold several days of the event anyways” she said.

Interested volunteers and sponsors are encouraged to contact the Haliburton Forest or email Tegan Legge at tlegge@haliburtonforest.com.