Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 11, 2013

Fulda Challenge hits the Yukon

It is an event that forces athletes from across Europe to challenge the Yukon’s extreme winter elements head on. Often, competitors feel pushed to the physical and mental brink.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

CHIPPING IN – Yukon MLA and tourism minister Mike Nixon announced a $150,000 contribution from the territorial government to the Fulda Challenge at a press conference at the Yukon Visitor Information Centre Thursday morning. (Below) TIRE TEST – The Fulda Challenge kicked off in Whitehorse yesterday. One of the first events was a slalom competition, where teams were required to weave their cars through pylons on Schwatka Lake. Photos by MARCEL VANDER WIER and ANNA CRAWFORD

It is an event that forces athletes from across Europe to challenge the Yukon’s extreme winter elements head on. Often, competitors feel pushed to the physical and mental brink.

The Fulda Challenge got underway in the territory yesterday, with events slated to happen all weekend across the territory.

Seven teams consisting of one male and one female athlete will test their limits in events like airplane pulling, ice chopping, mushing dogs, and running in snowshoes.

The teams consist of well-known European television personalities and sports figures.

Yesterday’s first events included a climbing event at Mount Sima’s WildPlay Monkido Aerial Adventure Course and a slalom time trial event on Schwatka Lake.

Events are measured in time and then converted into points.

The top finishers receive $1,500 each, as well as a gold nugget from Dawson City.

The events will wrap up with a winner’s banquet Tuesday night back in the capital city.

This year’s Fulda entourage is made up of 65 people, including athletes, support personnel, foreign journalists and international guests from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France.

The Yukon government’s tourism department has chipped in $150,000 towards the event, which sees Fulda organizers spend about $1 million in the Yukon on equipment rentals, accommodation, food and other events and services.

Last year, the government’s sponsorship resulted in approximately $5 million in equivalent media advertising in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – the territory’s largest overseas tourism markets.

Yukon MLA and tourism minister Mike Nixon welcomed the athletes to the territory at a press conference Thursday morning.

“You’ve all traveled a long way to experience a part of Canada’s north that will give you a unique, larger-than-life winter adventure truly like no other,” he said. “Over the coming days, I believe that all of you will come to appreciate the Yukon as a special place with very special people.”

The Fulda Challenge’s relationship with the Yukon began in 2000. Nixon toured the Fulda tire plant last fall during a trip to Germany.

Susanne Knickel, Goodyear-Dunlop’s marketing manager in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, referred to the Yukon as Fulda’s “second home.”

She said the territory provides the appropriate training ground for Fulda’s winter tire line. Each of the events attempts to provide an analogy to tire performance.

“We are here in one of the most fascinating and spectacular areas in the world to experience the winter climate which showcases the toughness and quality of our products,” she explained. “As a German tire brand, we would like to show the toughness and the quality of our tires. In Germany, we don’t have such conditions.

“We can set up events here which highlight all the attributes of our products, namely grip, traction, braking power, etcetera. We are proud of our Yukon history, and thank the people of the territory for their long-lasting support.”

She added that each of the Fulda participants is already a winner, before the challenge even began.

“You are all winners, even you are last,” she said at the press conference. “You participate in this unique event. You experience the challenge of lifetime.”

Last year’s event was won by the Canadian team led by Ryan Smith and Chantal MacKenzie.

Event organizer Holger Bergold said due to unforeseen circumstances, no Canadian team will compete this year.

Bergold said there are celebrity teams and “ordinary teams.”

“The ordinary teams are probably the better athletes,” he said. “They are selected by a competition. They have to compete and the best are qualified to come. We had a qualifier this year in Austria.”

Bergold said the Fulda Challenge provides an excellent marketing opportunity for the German company.

“A tire is, in itself, a boring product,” he told the Star. “You pimp it up with adventure here, basically.”

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