ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Sled dogs showed their best performances during the traditional sled dog race in the Estonian winter capital Otepaa on Saturday. This year the dogs had to go a further distance with the track being 42 kilometers long, the longest ever not only in Estonian, but in all Baltic sled dog race tradition. Thirty one contestants from Finland, Russia, Latvia and Estonia took part in the contest called "Jalg 2013", competing in various races. While the hilly track delighted sled drivers and skiers with its scenic views, dogs were extra burdened. However, sled dog drivers, also called mushers, pointed out that for most dogs races like this were like festive days. Despite the inevitable hardship the dogs usually bark impatiently before the start and can't wait to start racing, as running comes naturally to this breed. Dog drivers with 10 sled dogs took part in the 42 km-distance race, whereas sprint distances welcomed mushers with two dogs and skiers with one dog. Most common dog types in longest distances, were Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes while in sprint distance Alaskan Huskies and one White Shepherd took part. The variety of distances and the growing number of participants showed that dog sled races are becoming more popular in the Baltics. Most sportsmen and dog owners admit that it had all once started with one dog, and then usually other dogs join, as the owners devotion to this breed expands. Races like the sled dog competition are then a welcome opportunity to show off their dogs and their achievements during long training sessions. The winners of the longs distance race were Mickael Baeckman and Minna Raesanen from Finland and Alexander Spiridonov from Russia.
Jan. 28 - Participants from Finland, Russia, Latvia and Estonia take part in the biggest sled dog race of the Baltics. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). ( Transcript )
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