Meet Ken & Lori Chezik of Betcha-Katcha Kennels
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Why have you chosen him as the Alaskan to use in breeding the
hound crosses in your yard? What does he bring?
Bell would be one of our choices as important for hounds. She produced many of the young dogs we are driving right now. She is also one of Kenny's main leaders. She's out of Red Viking and Blondie.
Why do you think that particular cross worked?
Who else is important? There must be a few more.
We feel that contributions from Jan Svennson's kennel and some crosses that are descendants of Labben and Finn-Henri will be keys in our program for the future.
Who is Finn-Henri?
Tell us about one or two dogs that have significantly influenced
your kennel in the past.
Jack was a dominant stud coming from the Rowdy line going back to Junior. He was bred for leaders and toughness.
Bonnie was a 3/8ths greyhound + 1/8th saluki cross coming from Tim White's lines. She contributed refinement and speed.
These are dogs that are quite far back in pedigrees and have long
since been gone?
What is the training/racing philosophy of your kennel?
Do you have specific goals for your teams?
I notice that you use a cart for early fall training and switch to an ATV for
later in the season. Why?
Later we switch to the Risdon heavy rig once the yearlings are all going in the right direction. We train 8-10 dog teams on the heavy rig. We switch to the heavy rig to build muscle and endurance, while still maintaining control.
We then switch to the ATV when conditions are too slippery to control the heavy rig, which is usually after the first snow when there is not enough snow for a sled, but enough to make everything very slippery.
What is the most indispensable training tool you use?
How do you choose which races to enter?
We would like to be able to compete in the World Championship races in 2005 and would like to continue to do well in the Alaskan races. We have been looking forward to racing the Blue Streak series, but weather has not been cooperative for that.
What are your strengths as a racer?
What do you consider your weaknesses, if any?
What does it take to win?
What is your vision of the future of sled dog sports? Any ideas
about where the sport is going, or should go?
Ideally, I would like the sport have a permanent track, or tracks, maintained in the lower 48, such as are in Alaska. If they were developed in different regions it would give the drivers a place where they could know the trails, and give the clubs a place to bring big sponsors and showcase the sport. They could also use these sites for training sites both fall and winter. There are small and large clubs in Alaska with sites, it doesn't have to be as large as the Jeff Studdert track.
To promote our sport we as drivers need to show ourselves as responsible adults. Show the public that we take good care of our dogs, that our equipment is well maintained, and that we respect one another, and others outside the sport. We need to show support for the communities that host and sponsor our events.
What advice would you give to a beginning musher?
When you decide to get dogs, ask around about the drivers and where most of the dogs are coming from and why.
Invest in a couple of good leaders, often older, experienced dogs. They will teach you more than any person can.
If you decide you want pups, buy the best bitch you can afford. Above all, remember this sport is expensive! You should be realistic with yourself and look at what you can afford to give, both in time and money. Don't be afraid to ask questions; we've all been there and done that. At one time any of us asked the same questions you have.
Tell us about one or two of you most memorable sled dog
A mass of dog teams took off. We raced every step of the way looking at the competitors face to face.
My most memorable race would have to be the LNAC. It's not only the race trail or the fact you are racing against the best. It's racing three days on the trail widely noted as the fastest in the world. It's looking at the timing tower that stands above the clubhouse. It's walking into that clubhouse and seeing the pictures of past champions. It's seeing the trophy case with memorabilia of those people responsible for having the race. Being there leaves you with a sense of awe. It's knowing this is the proving ground for what you hoped to accomplish.
Any final comments about sled dog sports?
Later we got to see competition heat up with the Saunderson family, Lenny Robb, Doug McRae, and Terry and Eddy Streeper. We heard of the great Alaskan races where Roxy Wright, Harvey Drake, Gareth Wright, and Charlie Champaine were setting goals and markers for all of the up and coming drivers. Linda Leonard and Kathy Frost were setting track records in the limited races. They gave us the history.
For a while it seemed our sport was loosing its focus. But, some newcomers came along and gave everyone that poke in the ribs to get the sport going again. I'd like to thank Egil Ellis and Helen Lundberg for coming here and giving the sport the challenge it needed. They gave us as drivers something to strive for. I think if we are all honest, we will realize that they have set another mark for us all to be measured by.
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