Iditarod dreams

Sled dog racer plans to take her dogs to the top

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— Krista Halsnes has some lofty goals when it comes to sled dog racing.

The 13-year-old isn't shy to admit it, either.

Halsnes said she wants her current group of sled dogs to help her finish in the top 10 of the Iditarod.

Halsnes, who took fourth place in the Adult Sled 4 Dog Speed class at the Lone Cone Conquest race in Norwood on Friday and Saturday, said the race proved she continues to get closer to her Iditarod dreams.

Although Halsnes finished fourth, she said she could have done better. She won last year's race and said conditions this year weren't ideal for her team of Alaskan huskies.

On the first day of the two-day race, Halsnes said temperatures were upwards of 50 degrees and that her four dogs don't perform well in warmer weather.

On the second day - with temperatures much cooler - Halsnes had the second fastest time of the day and finished just 37 seconds behind the eventual winner.

"I came back to defend my title in Norwood, but I had a much younger team of dogs," she said.

Halsnes, who has been racing for two years, said sled dog racing has been something she was always intrigued by.

When she was 9 years old, her father, Jarle - who got into sled dog racing while training to be a professional skier in Norway - took her on a sled dog tour near Hayden.

Halsnes said she instantly fell in love with the sport.

So the Halsneses purchased a dog and some equipment from a retiring racer. Since then, the family has bred dogs and kept them on their 35-acre ranch at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass.

"We ended up breeding a couple of really good dogs and decided to take them racing," she said.

With the group of dogs they have now, both her and her father have dreams of competing in the Iditarod.

This was confirmed when Jarle finished well in the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race - a 400-mile race from Jackson Hole, Wyo. to Park City, Utah.

"That showed us that we're not that far off from the Iditarod," she said.

While Krista will have to wait five more years to do the Iditarod - competitors in the race have to be 18 or older - she knows it's a sport she really loves.

"For me, it's the speed, the wind and the quiet power," she said. "I just love the animals. My whole life is about animals. I'm planning on being a veterinarian."

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