Aliy and Allen traveled to Sweden earlier this month to exchange knowledge and passion for mushing internationally. The entire journey was a fantastic experience. The sled dog enthusiasm in Scandinavia might even surpass Alaska's. The Kiruna Slädhundklubb (Kiruna Sled Dog Club) put together a fantastic seminar with several hundred participants. The speakers were Mats Pettersson, Torsten Kohnert, Dr Dominique Grandjean, Egil Ellis and Helen Lundberg - plus Aliy and Allen.
They flew into Kiruna, Sweden which is 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The town is a very popular winter tourist destination for people from all over the world. There is a spectacular Ice Hotel right in town and numerous dog sledding tour operations. Nearly every dog musher in the area has at least a small amount of tourism on their calendar.
Mats Pettersson and his wife, Lotta, were perfect hosts to the Alaskans for several days. Their home and dog kennel are in Kiruna. They run a very busy and successful tour operation as well as a long distance racing outfit. Mats has competitively raced the Iditarod for the last 2 years and will be bringing a team over for the race again this coming year. It is a tremendous ordeal to organize the logistics of traveling from Sweden. SP Kennel's 350 mile drive from Two Rivers to the Iditarod's Anchorage start seems trivial.
Allen, Aliy and their Swedish hosts Lotta and Mats Pettersson; At the Pettersson's kennel it's a family affair: Mom is harnessing dogs, Dad gets the team ready, 1 year old Frja sits in the baby stroller at the head of the team and 4 year old Zeb is playing with some of his puppies!
Mats drove Aliy and Allen on a whirlwind tour of Sweden and northeastern Norway. They saw local Kiruna kennels as well as visited Sven Engholm's operation in Karasjok. They also saw the kennel of Trine Lyrek in Alta and had time to chat over lunch with Norwegian musher Roger Dahl. Mats then brought them to the home of his good friend and Sami native, Taisto Tanurus. While at his home they enjoyed a home-cooked Sami meat sandwich - fat drippings and all! Taisto's favorite working dog is named "Nachto", so Aliy took plenty of pictures of him!
Sven Engholm has a magnificent lodge in Norway; Mats and Aliy enjoy Taisto's lunch.
Ulf Blomquist and Anette Johansson welcomed them to their home for a final Swedish meal and plenty of sled dog company. Ulf drove Aliy and Aliy to Hege Ingebrigtse's world class sprint mushing kennel. It sits on a steep hillside overlooking a fjord.
Hege's dog yard overlooks a Norwegian fjord; Allen visits with the kennel mascot.
The entire trip to Sweden was FANTASTIC. Aliy and Allen learned lots, met great people and were thoroughly rejuvenated by the dog mushing passion of Scandanavia. They did spend a day and a half (without chaperones) in Stockholm. Allen said that he found the language a little 'challenging'… especially while looking for a lunch spot on the street corner.
The Alaskans pose in front of a church built in 1652.
Allen looks for lunch! I don't think we are in Arkansas anymore!