NORWAY — Champing at the bit to bolt, Endo, a 6-year-old German short-haired pointer/Alaskan husky mix, is released and given free rein by teammate Marc Vanderwood of Oxford. The two explode out of the gate and onto the 5-kilometer course along a groomed track through the snowy woods of Roberts Farm Preserve.

In a different Norway more than a century earlier, the Norwegian military is credited as the originators of this sport, of dogs pulling a human partner on skis, known as skijoring. It was a means of transporting supplies across the snow, with a loaded sled between the dogs and the skier, according to Vanderwood, a veteran racer and promoter of the sport in Alaska and here in Maine. Before long, Marc adds, “It always happens, someone says, ‘my dog is faster than your dog, I can ski faster than you,’ and they started doing skijoring races.”

The group at Roberts Farm Preserve last month “was a good mix,” said Geoff Shallard, one of nine participants. “We have a few people that are top-of-the-line elite, and then there is the rest of us, stepping down, who are just out here to get around the course and enjoy it”.

Shallard, an Australian-born Yarmouth resident who grooms trails right from his front door and through neighbors’ properties to connect with the town’s Pratt’s Brook Park trails, speaks about the human-canine collaboration. “You’ve got to ski hard, take a load off your dogs; at the same time your dogs have to stay in front of you. They’ve got to work hard, so it’s a real team sport.”


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