Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 17, 2013

Fulda Challenge experiences ups and downs in Dawson City

Monday’s Dawson events in the 2013 Fulda Challenge were a few hours behind schedule getting started,

By Dan Davidson on January 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm


Photo by Dan Davidson

STEEP RUN – A Fulda competitor heads up the trail at Moose Mountain near Dawson City for a challenge that included navigating a kayak back down the slope.

DAWSON CITY – Monday’s Dawson events in the 2013 Fulda Challenge were a few hours behind schedule getting started, but considering that the entire convoy had to break trail from Eagle Plains Lodge to the Dempster Corner in order to get back to Dawson City, that wasn’t unexpected.

“On the way down not one car was coming up,” said event organizer Holger Bergold, “and we were breaking trail.”

He wasn’t complaining. Breaking trail was a good test for the tires, which are the centerpiece of this annual event, now in its 14th season, and the resulting footage will look great in the television coverage of this trip, which will be used to sell tires all over Europe.

“If you want to test winter tires, what better conditions could you ask for?”

The Dempster Highway was under a possible blizzard warning and was closed to regular traffic on Sunday, but Bergold says the road had been plowed as far as the Arctic Circle so that the Fulda Challenge could hold its long distance run event there.

“They drove to the Arctic Circle so we could go in. It was really nice from the highways deptartment.”

The event at the Arctic Circle was a long distance run. Last year it had to be cancelled after they got there due to extreme cold, but this year, with temperatures during the day rising to as much as zero where they were, there was no problem.

No traffic either.

“So they were running and there was no danger of running on the street because there were no trucks. It was great,” said Bergold.

Fulda had arrived in Dawson on Saturday evening, after three days of events, which began in Whitehorse on Thursday and included a buggy drive (Schwatka Lake), climbing (Mount Sima), dog sled racing from Muktuk Kennels (Takhini River), airplane pulling (Fish Lake), a blindfold obstacle race (Braeburn Lodge) and Ice Chopping (Pelly Crossing).

That there was no Canadian team this year was something of a communication accident, according to Bergold. A French team had applied, and Fulda wanted to accommodate them, but had hoped to set it up as a French/French-Canadian duo.

Somehow the two sets of possible athletes never connected, so they went with the French entry.

“Next year we are definitely having a Canadian team again,” he said.

Susanne Knickel, the marketing manager for Goodyear-Dunlop (Fulda’s parent company) in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, sipped hot chocolate in the Moose Mountain Ski Lodge and opined that this year was “the best year ever” for the event.

The Yukon experience is just the best thing for them in terms of visuals and advertising impact, she said.

For the last three years, Fulda’s arrival has seen temperatures plunge to anywhere from -35 to -50 C, causing the event planners to make last-minute adjustments, as some things just couldn’t be done safely.

This year the group’s arrival coincided with 48 hours of heavy snowfall that had plows busy in Dawson for days.  This year, the town basked in single digit minus temperatures and, when it wasn’t snowing, clear skies through which a returning sun could be seen on the southern horizon.

Up on Moose Mountain there was lots of snow for the planned event. Contestants had to run a marked course about halfway up the ski hill, slip into a lightweight kayak, and navigate a return course down the hill.

Running in soft snow is as hard as it looks, and several contestants were slowed to a trudge when they hit the steeper part of the slope.

After watching several others make the climb, one contestant turned to his mates and said goodbye. Knickel translated that he said he expected to die while making the run.

Coasting back down, the kayaks were hard to control and several contestants either flipped or lost their paddles during the attempt.

Team Austria won the 2013 Fulda Challenge.

CommentsAdd a comment

Melba Disco Dancing Queen

Jan 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm

“The Dempster Highway was closed to regular traffic, but the road had been plowed as far as the Arctic Circle so that the Fulda Challenge could hold its long distance run event there.

“They drove to the Arctic Circle so we could go in. It was really nice from the highways deptartment.”

Wonder how much that cost?  Nice of the Yukon government to plow a closed highway for Fulda Tire company at the expense of Yukon tax payers.

For shame

Jan 20, 2013 at 12:23 am

Melba, the road has to be plowed one way or the other before it can be reopened even further north of the arctic circle for all public traffic later on anyways, or did you think they would leave it unplowed for the rest of the winter? Before you make such a comment maybe you should have a clue what you’re talking about.

On another note I met all these Fulda vehicles as they were driving back down to Whitehorse from Dawson and they were right in the middle of the highway and wouldn’t get over to their side at all. Maybe after not seeing many cars they thought they had the road all to themselves.


Jan 22, 2013 at 9:28 am

Interesting comments.  Do you folks know what Fulda brings to Yukon in economic benefits?  Public highways have to remain open for public safety and to keep supplies moving.  Sometimes there are delays.  Gee folks you want mining gone and now complaining of tourism.  What’s next!

Melba Disco Dancing Queen

Jan 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Dorothy and Shameful, take a reading comprehension course before you pipe off about other people ‘having a clue’.

I quote the article:  “the road had been plowed as far as the Arctic Circle so that the Fulda Challenge could hold its long distance run event there”

It was plowed FOR FULDA.  Got it?  Whew.  Now why don’t you two do a little research on how much money the government gives to this enormous and profitable tire company so that they will shoot commercials here, or ‘infomercials’ or ‘commercialtainment’ which they would shoot here anyway without the freebies.  They are making out like bandits and there is no reason for us to be shoveling money at them year after year after year.

stan rogers

Jan 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I have never seen these Fulda tires for sale locally.

I need some size 275/,,,/18 (10ply)for a truck. Can Fulda or someone help me out.


Jan 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Lets pause for a moment and think…  Do you think the road was plowed for Fulda or do you think like every winter morning the highway crew woke up, saw snow on the road, plowed it and opened it for the trucks to take supplies to and from the communities on this highway.

It is my understanding YTG hands out $200k for this event, the event in turn drops 1.5-2 million per year in the Yukon- not a bad investment.  This is only the event.  Many of the media, participants and organizers stay longer on their own dime- more revenue for Yukoners!!  Next time you cross a German speaking tourist ask them why they are in the Yukon and how they heard about Yukon as a destination?  It might be because Fulda group had a direct impact and influence on Condor’s direct flight.  Tourism has invested a small amount in this event compared to the return they get when the media go home to Europe and advertises Yukon as a wonderful place to visit and drop more money.

Some people will never be happy, stop residential development in my back yard, no to mining, no to tourism, no to killing the wolf, poor Trevor the dog.  Ottawa one day will stop the money train and it might be nice to have something to fall back on.

Ask Westmark, HCInn, Downtown in Dawson, Aurora in Dawson,
Sun Dog Retreat SIRS North Ranch, Dawson Ski Hill,Eagle Planes Lodge, Pelly Crossing Grocery, Driving Force, Coast Mountain, Many, Many gas stations, Boston Pizza, Earl’s, equipment rental companies how they felt about getting a piece of the 1.5-2 million in an otherwise dead silent time of year.  All those businesses and employees then dropped bucks in your business or tax dollars into the pot.

If we could get more events like Fulda Challenge we should be thankful not whining but again some people are not happy unless they are moaning about something


Jan 24, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Thank you yeesh. Perhaps Melba Disco Dancing queen should do some background checks before piping off.

Holger Bergold

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:21 am

The article quotes me, so let me just clarify:
It is correct, the Highway was closed from Eagle Plains onwards due to Blizzards on the NWT-side. The road crews anyhow cleared the Yukon side for trucks waiting in Eagle Plains. Due to the courtesy of the Yukon Highways Department we were allowed to drive in up to the Arctic Circle. So the road was not cleared for us (Fulda Challenge) but for the general traffic.

After the blizzards had stopped and the NWT-side had cleared their part the trucks were allowed to move on.

Hope this clarifies things.
Holger Bergold

Melba Disco Dancing Queen

Jan 25, 2013 at 4:17 pm

A case of inaccurate reporting, which happens.  I am pleased to know the truth about the road plowing, and am glad I spoke up, even for Fulda’s sake.
I am glad their event went well.

I think all Yukoners should be looking at where the money goes in this territory and should question things that are inappropriate.  Like ‘Yeesh’ says, one day the money will stop, so we should be watching our spending habits.

An enormous tire manufacturer should not be immune from oversight, and should not expect freebies from the people of the Yukon. They know exactly how much they benefit from their commercialtainment that they film here. It provides the back bone of their advertising campaign in Europe. They already take $200,000 from us for making their show, and that is a pittance to them.  However, that money could mean something significant the the Dawson Humane Society, or a kid’s shelter.  This has been going on for at least 10 years, and personally, I think enough is enough.  I would guess that Fulda would not bat an eye at spending $200,000 on one party for their guests.

That said, I welcome them and any other companies and tourists who come to the Yukon and pay their own way and do not ask for hand outs. Sorry, but the gravy train has to stop somewhere.

Thank you Holger for the clarification.

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