It’s a little like the Jamaican bobsledding team. This sextet of Siberian huskies live in Perth, so for most of the year they have to be content to practise and compete in sled dog racing on gravel or dirt.
But for two glorious weeks each winter, owners Markus and Ursula Israng drive them 3400 kilometres to compete on snow, at Victoria’s ski resorts.
Mr Israng never tires of watching it.
“It’s like seeing them in their natural habitat,” he says. “They absolutely love it. They jump around in the snow, they are like little puppies. They dig and chase each other. It’s really heartwarming.”
All six huskies were adopted from a Sydney animal shelter for Arctic breeds.
Before that Mr Israng thought it might be cruel to keep huskies in Perth’s scorching summers.
But he learnt the breed has a double coat which insulates them against both cold and heat. “If I put my hand into their coat in 40-degree heat, they’re nice and cool.”
A week ago they competed at Falls Creek, and this past Saturday and Sunday raced at Dinner Plain Sled Dog Challenge, near Mount Hotham.
Mr Israng’s dogs came fourth on the 4.5-kilometre two-dog open class, third in the 2.4-kilometre three-dog touring class and fifth in the one-kilometre ski touring (cross country with one to three dogs).
Mr Israng said the Dinner Plain slopes were a little soft on Saturday and the dogs found it tough going. But Sunday had “almost icy conditions so it was a lot faster”.
The Israngs are from Switzerland and started dog sledding in 2011 as an activity to do with their first husky.
They joined the West Australian Sled Dog Association, which now has more than 100 members. “There is no snow there, we all compete on dry land.”
He said he and Ursula “came to Australia to escape the Swiss winters, only to take up a sport that requires snow and cold temperatures. It’s really weird”.
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