Recent USFSS Happenings
July 15, 2014
My name is Mike Marsch. I have been honored for the past
three years to be the USFSS President. I’ve been a board member for 6 years. I
have a simple philosophy; if it’s broke fix it, if it’s not broke break it, and
then fix it. During the 30 years I’ve been involved in our sport, the status
quo has always limited our ability to think out of the box, to make adjustments,
to move forward. We get comfortable in the way we do things, but by my
assessment, our sport is in trouble. We have fewer racers, fewer spectators and
fewer dollars. What’s a sport to do?
We need to maximize our limited resources. The sleddog
community must develop a strategic plan. Back in the early 90’s I remember a
planning seminar that was held down in Chicago, so the sleddog community from
all over the country could come together and sort through our future. It may be
time for one of those seminars again. I’m certain many excellent ideas and
strategies for their implementation would come out of a gathering of the minds,
but the real question is do we have a workforce to carry them out. Most
organizations in our country have declining membership, and it’s the same
volunteer group who take up challenge after challenge. We need an infusion of
new people willing to work towards making sleddog sports visible to the general
populous and what better way is there to accomplish that, than through a World
As I tune into the final soccer match today between
Germany and Argentina, I reflect on the past month of matches which included the
United States. Is it the sport of soccer or is it support for our country that
has helped propel the attention this World Cup has received within the US? The
answer is probably both, but the non-soccer fan is all in because of the desire
to see the US do well against other countries. Whether we love soccer or our
country most of the time doesn’t matter, we love it in the moment.
IFSS is the international organization that is responsible
to bring the world together for the purpose of World Championships. The USFSS
is the organization within the US that is responsible to build our team. US
soccer has really advanced in our country, but unfortunately most sleddog sports
have not. Yes, the Iditarod is still popular and dryland events are growing,
but the sport in general is stagnating.
There have been many over the years that have stated,
sleddog sports will never get into the Olympics. It doesn’t have to, we have a
system with the intent of creating the euphoria of a World Championship already
in place, but we have to promote it.
I know you’re probably tired of my soccer references, but
it’s a great analogy right now because of the FIFA WCp. US soccer 20 years ago
was pale in its ability to compete with other countries on a world stage. We
weren’t very good, but the US soccer program developed a comprehensive strategy
to improve the skill level and popularity of the game in our country.
Congratulations to them, it seems to have worked. I don’t have all the answers,
but I have a good idea of what needs to get done. The model for developing a
sport is the easy part, getting people to do the work is the hard part.
In closing, I’d like to see the individuals and
organizations currently engaged in our sport come together for a weekend of
comprehensive strategic planning. Hire a Professional Facilitator who can guide
us through the process of developing a comprehensive plan. We have become too
fractioned in our efforts. We have many good people and organizations involved
in the sport. We have many good events and sleddog activities going on within
our sport, but it lacks cohesion. We have such limited resources available to
us. I just feel for those of us who care about our sports direction we need to
come together and sort out our future. A conference of this nature 23 years ago
accomplished a great deal, I think it could again. We need lead dogs and team
dogs!! Yes, it would be an investment of perhaps a $1,000 for the weekend with
airfare, hotel, food and the conference, but isn’t our sport worth it? I’m open
to other ideas which could accomplish the intent of this conference, such as
regional workshops, but the format we used last time worked well. There were
over 150 participants from all over NA who for 2 ½ days brainstormed what our
sport should look like, and how we get it to look that way.
I feel the time is now to revisit our past and plan for our
future. We can develop a comprehensive plan in many different ways, but the
time is now to embrace the process. Anyone else interested?
August 15, 2013
USFSS Holds Biennial Congress
By Sally O’Sullivan Bair
Harrisburg, PA – June 29, 2013, saw a skeleton crew
assembled for the biennial congress of the USFSS (US Federation of Sleddog
Sports). Held in conjunction with ISDRA’s (International Sled Dog Racing
Association) annual conference, three main items were on the agenda:
revision/simplification of the bylaws, the election of the open positions for
board directors, and discussion on the feasibility of staging a US championship.
The bylaws were revised to simplify the membership and
voting representation. Previously, each category of membership was allotted an
aggregate vote number. Now, all that is required for voting is that 20% of those
voting be Active Athlete members (those who have entered competition within the
last ten years). This 20% representation is a requirement of the USOC (US
Olympic Committee). A credentials report will verify the correct percentage.
The bylaw revision also made provisions for voting between
congresses and absentee voting. Geographic distances in the US frequently
preclude members from attending a congress in person. Therefore, it was deemed
prudent to allow for absentee voting, thus making for better representation on
important issues and votes.
Although the USFSS Board is tasked with handling all the
business between congresses, there may arise occasions where the input of all
members on important votes would be desired or required. Therefore, the Congress
passed a bylaw to provide for this.
In addition to the bylaw revisions and election of board
members, the congress also discussed staging a National Championship (NCh) in
2016. Various ideas were raised, primarily associated with a venue and
Election results are as follows:*
The Active Athletes Council re-elected Amy Cooper of
Holmen, Wisconsin, to the board for another four-year term. An eighteen-year
veteran of the sport, Cooper has become a name on the limited sprint circuit in
Nome (sled) style and Nordic skijoring. She is a bronze medalist in the 2013
IFSS World Championships in Alaska in the 4-dog sprint class and has been active
in promoting the dryland aspects of our sport. With a B.A.S. degree in
veterinary technology, she works as a research technician at the University of
Wisconsin in La Crosse. She is anxious to use her skills in the promotion and
development of the sport.
Janet Saxon (Golden, Colorado) was elected to fulfill the
position of treasurer for a four-year term. Saxon has been acting treasurer
since last summer, having been a board member for the past few years. She has
seen action as a member of Team USA at the Norway 2011 IFSS World Championships
and has been an active participant in bicycling sports, where she served as a
Kale Casey and Sally O’Sullivan Bair were elected to the
board as at-large members for four-year terms. Casey (Paonia, Colorado) brings a
bowlful of enthusiasm and ideas, having been a member of Team USA in the 2013
Alaska IFSS World championships. He was introduced to the sport by a neighbor
and experienced a comical rookie skijor year in 2010. Since then he has
fine-tuned his team and his Nordic skills and at the 2013 WCh in Alaska entered
all five skidog classes, the first American to do so. His ten-year goal includes
inspiring or recruiting determined athletes from the ranks of America’s vastly
talented high school and collegiate Nordic skiers. A 1994 graduate of Stanford,
Casey’s career as a wildfire incident medical specialist keeps him busy and in
harm’s way. He provides medical support to firefighters working on the front
lines as well as runs medical units for all sizes of fire camps. This summer he
has seen busy action in Alaska.
Sally O’Sullivan Bair (Monticello, Minnesota) previously
served on the board and, as an IFSS (International Federation of Sleddog Sports)
certified doping control officer, is currently the chair of the USFSS
anti-doping committee. She comes with a wealth of experience not only from a
30-year teaching career at the high school level in the social sciences,
literature and learning disabilities but also from her tenure as IFSS’s
secretary general from 1999-2012. She is a retired limited class sprint racer,
where she competed for 20+ years and garnered trophies at the local level. A
graduate of Colorado Woman’s College of Denver University, she did her graduate
work at Bemidji State University in Minnesota in special education. She is
currently the editor of the Tugline, the publication of the North Star
Sled Dog Club.
USFSS welcomes the new board members and anticipates with
excitement a productive upcoming year.
* USFSS has staggered terms for its board members.
June 17, 2013
The United States Federation of Sleddog Sports takes great
pleasure in announcing and extending to US racers an invitation to apply for the
2013 Dryland World Championships to be held in Falze di Piave, Italy November
This is an awesome opportunity to see the beautiful
countryside of Italy while you represent the United States at this prestigious
event. We do expect there to be travel assistance available to US competitors,
the amount has not been established.
There’s an attached program, class breakdown and USFSS
application. We encourage you to apply even if you’re uncertain you’ll be able
to make the trip. The deadline for applications is August 15, 2013. There will
be a 1st round selection of 3 US team members per class by September
There are always issues to contend with when traveling
abroad with dogs. USFSS will provide all the necessary technical assistance
you’ll need to understand your and your dogs travel requirements. We will also
find suitable housing for the US team while in Italy. We will work hard to make
your experience as a member of the US team as hassle free as possible, but there
will be logistical challenges, so be prepared to deal with the unusual if you
decide to apply.
You need to be a current member of USFSS. Our annual dues
cycle runs October 1, thru September 30. If you are not a current member, your
dues will need to be submitted with your application.
World dryland racing is extremely competitive. The
Federations within IFSS, all have excellent teams. It will be a challenge for
our country to get on the podium, but if our best US dryland teams apply, we
will be competitive. Thanks for considering this challenge.
SAVE THE DATE!
June 28-30,, 2013 in Harrisburg, PA, USFSS will be having their
spring meeting/congress in conjunction with ISDRA’s annual meeting. More details
USFSS’s Final Team
Roster for the 2013 IFSS World Championships
Skijor – Women
1 Dog Skijor – Men
1 Dog Pulka – Women
1 Dog Pulka – Men
Skijor – Women
2 Dog Skijor- Men
Nordic Combined – Women
Nordic Combined - Men
4 Dog Junior
4 Dog –
RNB No event
4 Dog Sled - Pursuit
Jay Olmstead Jr
4 Dog Sled - Mass Start
Jay Olmstead Jr
6 Dog Sled
8 Dog Sled
Jennifer Probert Erhart
Mid-distance Sled 8-12
dog - No event
Mid-distance Sled 6-dog - No event
Just announced the
Indian River Sprint Race in Indian River, Michigan has been added to the Wild
Card race circuit. The race is scheduled for January 26 and 27. For more
information go to
www.isdra.org. We’d like to thank the IRSR committee for providing this
awesome opportunity for WCh applicants to qualify out of the Midwest region.
Meet the 2013 US Team
January 11, 2013
WILD CARD RACE UPDATE
January 5, 2013
The postponement of the Langlade Co. Culver’s TB Challenge to
February 23-24 due to lack of snow, has provided an opportunity for the Willow
Springs Round Barn Sled Dog Rally in Wausau, WI to become the new Wisconsin wild
card race event.
The race is scheduled for January 26-27, but if you plan to race
for a spot on the US team, you will need to apply by January 7. Make
application through MU&SA at
or contact Mike Marsch at
USFSS WILD CARD RACE UPDATE
December 31, 2012
I want to
remind you there is only 1 week left for application into the Wild Card
qualifying round for the IFSS WCh’s. The deadline for entry is January 7, 2013.
membership and IFSS race application must be received by January 7, 2013. You
must pay your $25.00 MUSA membership dues, but the IFSS event entry fee is not
due at this time, but we do need to know what event you hope to qualify for.
circuit is throughout January and February 2&3. However, you must become a MUSA
member and submit an application for the event you hope to qualify for by
January 7, 2013.
let the race organization who is hosting the Wild Card races know who is
competing prior to the event. Also, if you have previously submitted an
application but were not selected, you are automatically entered into the Wild
Card races. All you need to do is go race.
to see you at an event near you.
The mission of
USFSS is to promote,
support, coordinate, and develop mushing activities in the United States, to
promote and encourage the welfare of sled dog and human athletes and to foster
appreciation for the traditions and history of the sport. As the national
governing body of sled dog sports in the United States, USFSS is further
committed to the ideals and guidelines of the United States Olympic Committee
USFSS is a 501(C)(3) tax-exempt organization.