January 28, 2005
With so much snow on the ground, Ron Miller is going to have a hard time keeping his team under control.
"It’s amazing how excited the dogs get," Miller says of his huskies, Snowflake, Delta, Greer, Taylor and Chena. "Everyone asks how we get them to go when we bring them up into the starting chute, but the real question is, how do you get them to slow down?"
For two years Miller and his team have taken the gold medal in the White Mountain Winter Games. The team will compete this weekend.
Miller, a forester who lives in Pinetop, began sledding 18 years ago while he lived in Fairbanks, Alaska.
"It’s the state sport in Alaska," he says. "When we moved to Fairbanks, I wanted to do something that would make me look forward to winter."
"We love it when it snows," says Miller, who is vice president of the Arizona Mountain Mushers. "It’s good for racing, and it’s good for the trees."
Miller says the sport is popular throughout the state. There are teams from Phoenix and Tucson who prepare their dogs by keeping them inside air-conditioned homes and training with carts and fourwheelers.
The races will be 8:30 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday at Sunrise Park Resort. After spending the morning in the frigid air on Saturday, spectators will be treated to hot chocolate, coffee and other treats at Hon-Dah Resort-Casino. Other festivities at the casino include a snowmanbuilding contest, an icesculpting competition and sleigh rides.
Third Annual White Mountain Winter Games
• A celebration of all things winter, featuring dog sled races, bonfires and hot chocolate.
• Dog sled races 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday at Sunrise Park Resort, state Highways 260 and 273, Greer. Free. (928) 735-7669.
• Winter celebration featuring refreshments, live entertainment, contests and sleigh rides 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Hon-Dah Resort-Casino, 777 Highway 260, Pinetop. Bonfire and American Indian dances begin at 6 p.m. Free. (928) 369-0299.