Steamboat Springs Stagecoach State Park has postponed its inaugural sled dog race indefinitely because of open water in its mostly frozen reservoir and a lack of snow.
Kimi Lehman, an administrative assistant at the park who was working to coordinate the event with the Colorado Mountain Mushers, said Monday the race that was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday was scrapped because of safety concerns and unfavorable weather forecasts.
“We have some open water near the inlet under the reservoir, and with there not being enough snow here, the brakes on the dog sleds won’t grip,” she said.
The park was planning to host 15 to 20 dog sled teams from across the state that would have raced around the frozen Stagecoach Reservoir south of Steamboat Springs.
The 10 to 12 inches of ice that currently covers most of the reservoir already have attracted a number of ice fisherman, especially this weekend when skies were clear and temperatures in the Yampa Valley were unseasonably warm. But dog sled racers need snow, and the park, like most of Colorado, hasn’t seen any significant powder build up lately.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said Sunday that a dry weather pattern over Northwest Colorado was expected to continue through Saturday afternoon, with high temperatures this week continuing to reach the mid-40s. At this time last year, Lehman said 2 feet of snow covered the park. She added that organizers are hoping to reschedule the race later this month, but the date is dependent on the weather and the schedule of other races throughout the state.
Mark Hatch, race coordinator for the Colorado Mountain Mushers, said he was eager to bring his group of Siberian huskies from a kennel in Glenwood Springs to the race in Stagecoach.
“We were really looking forward to having a first-time event up there, so hopefully we get some snow and get another shot at it,” Hatch said. “It’s really hard at this point to race statewide because there are a lot of issues as far as not having enough snow. A number of (mushers) are having to do dry land training to run their dogs.”
He added many of the teams who signed up to travel to Stagecoach this weekend are from the Front Range.
“Except for Mother Nature, I think it would have been a real good event,” he said.
To learn more about other recreational opportunities at Stagecoach State Park and for weather conditions, visit www.parks.state.co.us/parks/stagecoach or call the park office at 970-736-2436.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com