Valjakkourheilun sulanmaan MM-kilpailut 2019 Nybro, Ruotsi

Luge World Championships 2019 in Nybro, Sweden

Mud, speed, adrenaline, drool and top athletes: The melting pot season of the Lugano sports culminates in the IFFS World Championships held in Nybro, Sweden on October 23-27, 2019.

There are more than 400 competitors from almost 30 different countries around the world. One of the athletes representing Finland is Tanja Ignatius, who cooperates with Traildog Finland and whose main sport is dog cycling. We asked him a little about preparing for the World Championships and his expectations.

Team: Tanja Ignatius & Bambi

Tanja is a 23-year-old student from Helsinki. He has been involved in sled sports for 11 years, and dog cycling became established as its own sport already in 2012. Development is happening little by little and the goals are getting tougher! For this season, Tanja chose the younger of her two dogs as her competition partner: the 1.5-year-old greyster bitch Bambi, with whom Tanja will go to get experience in big competitions. It's only Bambi's second official race start, so anything is possible.

1. How long have you been involved in the sport? What about training purposefully?

I found my way to sledding in 2009 with my first dog. In the beginning, the hobby was mostly walking the dog on skis in the backyard field. Little by little, competitions came into the picture, initially in the form of skiing and canicross. In 2012, I got a bigger and stronger dog, which is when my love for dog cycling was ignited. The training was goal-oriented, but not yet very effective, and the competitions were mainly for experience. In 2014, I took my own German stand to grow, with which the goals grew and training became even more planned.

2. Why has dog cycling been chosen as your sport?

Dog cycling was carried along purely out of love. I first became interested in mountain biking, which allowed me to finally combine the two sports I love together. Canicross was never right for me and constantly losing to my little sister forced me to look for my own strengths elsewhere.

3. Do you have previous experience in value competitions?

I have started in value competitions for the first time at the European Championships in Germany in 2012 when I was still a junior. Now the upcoming World Championships are the second prestigious competitions for me in the women's category of dog cycling.

4. What kind of route and how long is the dog cycling World Championships in Sweden?

Nybro's competition route for dog cyclists is five kilometers long and is based on forest roads. The EC competitions were run on the same route a year ago, in which many of this year's competitors also took part. This is our first time on that route. Based on the reports and route videos, hard climbs and rapid descents can be expected. I hope we can use the bills to even out the differences that arise in the increases! Little Bambi is not at his strongest in steep uplands.

5. Do you train all year round?

We train according to the competition seasons. We start building the dog's condition at the end of summer with autumn in mind, and we aim for top condition for the main competitions. After the autumn games, we will start to stretch the training, considering the longer distances of the ski classes (10-15 km). In the spring, it's time for the dogs to rest and focus on basic fitness runs. Of course, the driver trains all year round. You can get a dog in shape in a few months, while a rider's top condition is hidden somewhere after several years.

6. What kind of training have you done this autumn during the competition season? What is your typical training week like?

During the competition season, the dogs train a lot. Pulling exercises are only a part of the whole, and they are done a maximum of three per week. These three moves are divided into interval, power and distance style moves in order to maintain the dog's interest and development. We don't do races on consecutive days, instead there are free runs, trot runs and rest days in between. Free runs usually at least once a week. I do trotting with the dogs alternately, and they come for 1-2 weeks per dog. I mostly run the trot runs myself, so the distances are ten kilometers on both sides. On their days off, they go to dog parks and sleep on the couch. Of course, the driver trains on his days off, mostly by doing bike and kickbike runs.

7. Do you also train without a dog?

Training without a dog should be done most during the summer, when the weather forces you to leave the dogs at home. I go mountain biking without my dog, although even these trips can be accompanied by dogs, if you are far enough away. Sometimes it can also be seen on a kickbike run. Most of the time, I like to train together with the dog or just follow along when it runs. As additional training, I occasionally go bouldering and do running pulls or stair training.

8. What do you consider to be your strength in terms of competing?

The strength of our team is Bambi's insane speed and my own ability to push my body to the very limit in the competition. Because of his size, Bambi gives a lot of compensation to bigger dogs, but he is insanely persistent and really fast on his feet!

9. Bambi is still a young racing dog. Do you expect to face any challenges on your race journey because of this?

A lot of new and exciting things can be expected from the Nybro World Championships, which Bambi has not seen before. For example, overtaking has been practiced a lot, but Bambi has never overtaken in a competition. Even big races can be a tight spot for a young dog, when there is even an audience along the route. There will be excitement for sure!

10. What is your goal in the World Cup?

A realistic goal for these competitions is clean performance and more experience for the dog. Bambi is so young that I don't want to put too much pressure on him to succeed. We will do our best and see how far it will take.

11. Will there be others from Finland going to the World Championships?

A large team from Finland is going to the games! The local competitions have attracted the sharpest tips from all over Finland! In the women's dog cycling class alone, we have four Finns starting!

12. Do you have helpers or a maintenance team with you on the race trip?

My friend Tuomas Notko and I are going on this race trip, and later Noora Waltari will join the group. Tuomas himself competes in Nybro and his dog is Bambi's half-brother Liekki. Noora will come to the games to take care of the results reporting and a possible live picture, so that even in the stands at home you can enjoy the atmosphere of the games! I personally take care of the dog and the bike as much as possible, but the Finnish team has always been very helpful at the start and finish line.

COME TO THE TRAILDOG BLOG: MM competitions, part 2. Tanja's competition report after the competitions. You can get updates by following our FB pages:

Watching the Nybro World Championships from your home sofa:

The official websites of the competitions: World Championships Dryland Nybro 2019

FB page of the Finnish national team, with competition and results material in Finnish: National luge team and supporters

The official FB pages of the competitions: IFSS 2019 Dryland World Championship in Svartbäcksmå

Tanja Ignatius & B-team on Instagram: Pulling power

Blog header photo: Tanja and Bambi at the 2019 dog cycling championships. Photographed by Kimmo Virkki.

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