Thursday, June 20, 2019
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Joëring skiing is on the way

The joereurs, these skiers of funds towed by their dog (s), are more and more numerous in the stations of new mountain.

The Great Odyssey sled dog race, currently taking place in the Alps, opened this year at ski joëring.

This sport is less complicated to practice than sled and it is acclaimed by women, secured by the presence of their dog during an effort sometimes solitary.

"It's a niche market," explains Vincent Berlandis. The boss of Nordic France, an association of 200 mid-mountain resorts that do not have the heart to joke, has much to do at this time with the catastrophic snow in recent weeks and monitoring the development of the most promising activities, like the fatbike (ATV with big tires hanging on the snow).

The joëring ski activity is not yet at the center of the commercial radars of the resorts it federates. Which for the moment have the gaze fixed on the downward curve of the flagship activity cross-country skiing, which suffers from an image sometimes outdated and forbidding, especially for young people.

"I was bored on the tracks of funds"

Nathalie Dietrich has precisely left the world of the traditional fund to live a great adventure on skis with her dogs. "I was bored on the tracks by pushing on my sticks, only often. With my dog, it's different, I'm having fun, I have to pay more attention to skis and its presence makes me feel secure when I'm alone in the fir trees ", said this Franc-Comtoise who took the reins of the ski joëring Technical Direction at the Federation of Sled Sports, one of the three organizations grouping this activity in France.

Courchevel already world champion ski

They are still a few dozen to start with one (or two) dogs on dedicated tracks, but their numbers are growing at a slow but sure pace. "It's more sporty than with a sled and eight or ten dogs," explains Jacques Adam, who organizes in early February Contamines (Haute-Savoie) a single-dog race. Alone behind his animal, you have to push and ski hard all the time to reach sometimes incredible speeds: up to 50 km / h on the flat for the best. This assumes a correct level of skiing, in a sport where descents can be a bit acrobatic for the practitioner shackled by a harness.

The dog jumps into the trunk of the car, and hop we left

"And we do not have to turn into breeders or turn the house into a kennel, completes Nathalie Dietrich, who emphasizes the practical side of the case. The dog jumps into the boot of the car next to the skis and we're off! In hitch, it's different: we need trucks, food reserves, mushers are almost farmers, besides they have the side a little rough sometimes ", smiles this ski-joereuse (official name – Ed). "Some good dogs live in an apartment, that's no problem provided they run every day," adds Jacques Adam.

Giant of Courchevel: the Blue still far from the summits

If The Great Odyssey, the most important sled dog race in the Alps, "Is and will remain centered on the big teams", Annabel Kam, its director, has chosen to complete the program of a three-day ski touring course. "It was a way of bringing novelty to our fifteenth edition. The joëring is in the air of the time, we had a lot of requests in this direction, explains this young woman, who observes the craze of women for joëring. Limited for this first year to ten participants, the board already has three women players. For the whole activity, according to Nathalie Dietrich, we are closer to 50% of women.

World championships organized in France

Coming from Scandinavia where it was practiced 2,500 years ago, the joëring has a circuit of international competition largely dominated by the countries of the east (especially the Czech Republic) and the North. On January 29, in Bessans (Savoie), in Vanoise, will be organized for the first time in France the snowland world championships, with a ski-joëring event. A step further in France for this discipline that only awaits a sign of communities to climb higher: the resorts offering dedicated tracks – the practice is prohibited on cross-country ski trails – are still too rare.

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The Great Odyssey plays the middle distance

The random nature of the snow has driven the best mushers away from the Alps, the Great Odyssey, traditionally consisting of long distance stages of 70 to 80 km, was faced with a deficit of committed. For the fifteenth edition, the race management has decided to accentuate the approach outlined in recent years and is now placed on the field of middle distance races, with stages of thirty kilometers. A success since registrations in all categories were closed in a few hours. The 44 traditional sled teams are currently crisscrossing the Alps, with an expected finish on Wednesday 23 January. The ten joëring teams will be present from Monday 21st for the last three stages.

Jean-François Fournel

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