This race won’t involve mushers or dogs. Instead, the Saskatchewan Huskies will be hauling their bodies across the finish line at the 48th annual Sled Dog Open. Quite frankly after over five and a half months of practice, they’re chomping at the bit.
“Track has a really, really long base season leading up, we’ve been training since September and we haven’t really gotten to compete yet so I think everybody’s ready to go,” Kieran Johnston, one of the Huskies men’s captains, said at practice Thursday.
“I’d say we’re all getting really pumped up, especially with the new program from Jason (Reindl), we’re all really excited to like see if our results pay off,” Mackenzi Kleiter, who runs the 60 metre sprint and 4×200 meter relay, said.
Kleiter was referring to University of Saskatchewan alumnus and new head coach Jason Reindl. The former track athlete specializes in sprint, hurdle and relay training, but he brings his own unique formula to the team.
“Every event requires a different tone of voice, a different metaphor to help the athlete achieve their goals, so every time I go into something its like another little recipe to bake a cake,” Reindl said.
“He definitely is a very academic coach, he really studies the craft,” Johnston added.
Reindl was named Coach of the Year for the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference last year, after training the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. Then in the summer, he coached Canada’s sprint and hurdle team at the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan.
But in his first year at the helm with the Huskies, he just wants to take things slow and steady.
“My goal this year is to have some good transitions, build off of the previous success of Joanne McTaggart and the coaches before and really just lead that into some program changes that will lead us to success in the future.”
“Just knowing that he has coached at that level gives us a lot more ease that we know that we can trust him in what he’s telling us to do,” Kleiter, who is in her fourth year with the Huskies, added.
The Sled Dog open is just an exhibition meet, but the Huskies will still be facing internal pressure to perform.
“A lot of the athletes on the team are earning their spot, and that’s the big thing within our team. The other things are every performance is an opportunity to get standard or move up in the rankings,” Reindl noted, as the Huskies will not travel the entire squad to a meet in Edmonton next week.
The Sled Dog open begins Friday and runs through Sunday at the Saskatoon Field House.