Flathead Classic Sled Dog Race Canceled

Warm weather, poor trail conditions lead to cancellation and entries to roll over for next year

By Molly Priddy

The organizers behind the Flathead Classic Sled Dog Races have decided to cancel the races after driving the melting trail on Sunday.

Brett Svetlik, race organizer, said the trail conditions were good enough last week, but the area used for the Classic was logged earlier in the season, leaving the road with little snow.

And despite good snowpack in January, February didn’t do the trail any favors where snow is concerned, Svetlik said.

“February has been brutal on the trails with bare ground, ice and slush on the existing trail,” Svetlik said.

The Flathead Classic is an offshoot of the valley’s previous primary race, Flathead Sled Dog Days. During the weekend, teams of one and two dogs will pull skijoring mushers for 2.2 and 4.8 miles; four-dog teams run 4.8-mile races; six-dog teams run 14.5-mile races; eight dogs pull for 25 miles; and the traditional 12-dog team runs for 35 miles.

Over the weekend, Svetlik and the Classic’s team were out searching for an alternate route when they realized the traditional Olney starting point was unusable. They considered a trail near Whitefish Lake, but they couldn’t come up with an alternate safe trail for mushers and their teams to race.

Svetlik said about 20 teams were looking forward to racing, but their entries will roll over to next year’s race, and sponsors will also be held over for the 2017 race.

Supporters can show their love for the Flathead Classic by attending a fundraiser at Bonsai Brewery in Whitefish March 1 from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Bonzai will donate $1 from every glass of beer served that night plus tips to next year’s Flathead Classic. Race merchandise will also be for sale.