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Sled Dog Winter Classic bounds into Foresthill

By: Debbie Griffin, Special to the Journal
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The Sled Dog Winter Classic race returns to Foresthill again this weekend. Sponsored by the Foresthill Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers, the event features three-dog, six-dog and eight-dog sledding teams tackling a course up to 12 miles long at the China Wall staging area. New this year, there will be a Meet the Mushers! Community dinner at the Historic Forest House Lodge on Saturday night. “We’re really excited for the community to have a chance to meet and greet the mushers,” said Leslie Anderson, race chairwoman. “We’ll be showing video of Saturday’s racing events during dinner, which will be a lot of fun.” Conditions for the race are excellent. “We’ve gotten a ton of snow at China Wall over the past few weeks, and we’ve been working closely with the Tahoe National Forest Service and volunteers from Foresthill’s One Track Mind Snowmobile Club to get the trails groomed in time for the race,” Anderson said. Local Foresthill musher Alyssa Martin will again compete in the six-dog sprint six-mile race. Last year she came in third place in the race but took the first-place trophy for running with her purebred dogs. Barbara Schaefer of Grass Valley is a key player in organizing the race again this year. Schaefer has been a breeder of Siberian huskies for more than 20 years and is a 10-year Iditarod Sled Dog Trail volunteer. Schaefer, who is also an author and leadership coach, will be running the six-dog mid-distance class race. Her Iditarod experience “has provided (me) invaluable ‘insider secrets’ into the relationship between the sled dogs and their mushers and how that relates to everyday life,” she said in an e-mail. The chamber is planning a variety of activities in conjunction with the race. In downtown Foresthill, the Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers will have dry-land demonstrations with sleds that are rigged with wheels. The Forest Hill Historical Museum and Smithy Shop will be open from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. in conjunction with the sled dog weekend. At China Wall, attendees can get photos taken with the dog sled featured in the Disney film “Eight Below.” There will be Pee Wee races — a kids-size sled dog race accompanied by musher drivers, snowman-building contest, dog rescue group and more. “It’s lots of fun to get up close and pet the dogs to show them your love,” Anderson said. Limited edition event posters with pictures from FFG Photography of last year’s race will be for sale throughout the weekend and will be autographed by the mushers at dinner and at China Wall. In addition, raffle tickets will be for sale to win some great prizes, organizers said. Refreshments will be available for purchase in downtown Foresthill at all restaurants and markets. Foresthill Joe’s Coffee Shop and One Track Mind Snowmobile Club will have refreshments for sale at China Wall. Visitor parking will be in downtown Foresthill, with shuttle bus service every 30 minutes to China Wall from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Cost for the shuttle is $5 per person and $15 per family. Visitors are welcome to bring folding chairs and blankets for their comfort at China Wall. No family pets are allowed. “We’ve got lots of volunteers ready to welcome the mushers, dogs and visitors to Foresthill this weekend,” Anderson said. Debbie Griffin is race publicity spokeswoman for the Foresthill Chamber of Commerce. ------------ Sled Dog Winter Classic Races When: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, March 12, 13 Where: China Wall Cost: Free admission, bus transportation from Foresthill to China Wall is $5 per person and $15 per family. Meet the Mushers! Dinner: 5:30 p.m., Saturday, March 12 (doors open at 4 p.m.) Cost: $17 for adults and $8 for children. Purchase tickets through the Foresthill Chamber office or at the door For more information, see www.foresthillchamber.org or call (530) 367-2474