World champion Iris Mauderer: ATVs in sled dog sport
While 10 years ago only a few teams used ATVs instead of special training vehicles to prepare for the upcoming sled dog races, more and more mushers (sled dog drivers) use ATVs to train their four-legged racing teams. So does the 45-year-old Iris Mauderer, reigning European and world champion from Waldfeucht in the North Rhine-Westphalian district of Heinsberg. She trains her world champion team on a Polaris-sponsored Sportsman 570. “When I first started dog sledding over 30 years ago, ATVs were largely unknown in our sport. At that time we used training trolleys specially designed for sled dog sports. Depending on the version, these weighed between 45 and 90 kg. A normal parking drum brake had to withstand the enormous pulling power of the huskies,” explains world champion Iris Mauderer.
??? How much traction does a sled dog team have?
Iris Mauderer: A mature and well-trained male Husky is capable of pulling 10 times his body weight, which is 25kg. That means: 250 kg per dog. With a 12-dog team, this means a maximum pulling force of around 3 tons. Despite a second person on the training vehicle, training with the training vehicles that were common at the time was often a risky undertaking.
??? How could you stop the team and park safely for a moment?
Iris Mauderer: This was often a security problem. Then the second person riding had to change and step on the brake so that one could go forward to the lead dogs. But even then it was hardly possible to secure a well-trained team in the long run. In addition, with years of training, vehicles that used to have mostly no springs put extreme strain on the intervertebral disc.
??? What are the advantages of ATVs in dog sledding?
Iris Mauderer: After extensive testing, I decided on a Polaris ATV years ago because this vehicle makes a rock-solid impression with first-class workmanship. For example, when I brake my sled dog team before a sharp turn, the ATV’s brakes have to withstand three tons of pulling force. That means high demands on the entire braking system.
??? How long can the brakes withstand this load?
Iris Mauderer: Since Polaris provides me with a new vehicle every year, I can talk about a period of one year. During this time, I cover about 2,000 kilometers with my dogs in training operations in difficult terrain. Then there are about 3000 km of driving distance outside of the dog training. With the Sportsman, I also pull my dog trailer from home to my training area. Then I unhitch the trailer from the ATV and hitch my dogs to the Sportsman. Overall, I get an annual mileage of around 5,000 kilometers. Over this distance I have never had any problems with the braking system; this remains consistently easy to dose over the entire distance.
??? Editor: What do you think of the comfort of the Sportsman?
Iris Mauderer: The Polaris ATV also cushions the bumps on my forest and meadow paths comfortably. Safety is also important when cornering at high speeds. The grip is enormous as a result of the fantastic road holding of the Sportsman and the driving characteristics in extreme areas are exceptionally comfortable.
??? What do walkers on the training paths say about the motorized vehicle?
Iris Mauderer: For many of my sports friends, this can be problematic depending on the sensitive training area. I myself train on dirt roads where there is a lot of agricultural traffic – especially since there is very good communication and coordination with the walkers, especially those who are accompanied by a four-legged friend. You know each other, which of course increases acceptance. In this context, many sports colleagues would like an electrically powered ATV, which would be quieter and would generate greater acceptance. Let’s see how developments in this area continue.
??? In your capacity as a Polaris testimonial, you also see yourself as a brand ambassador for Polaris. What does this mean?
Iris Mauderer: Well, as a top athlete you have a certain level of awareness and many press contacts, both in the print sector and on radio and TV stations. Here, of course, there is the opportunity to communicate the excellent experience I have gained with the Polaris vehicles over the years. I can only do that because I am convinced of the quality. I try to come across as reliable, personable, authentic and sustainable as the Polaris products are.
??? You take unconventional paths in brand and product communication…
Iris Mauderer: I don’t want to say unconventional. Me and my sponsor Polaris benefit from some of my personal advantages.
??? What advantages do you mean?
Iris Mauderer: Well, on the one hand I run a TV production company with an affiliated event and PR agency. On the other hand, press contacts are part of our daily work. A media network that has been built up over the years is based on this. There are certainly some advantages to presenting and representing a sponsor’s brand and products professionally.
??? In your more than 30-year career in world class top-class sport, you have been able to celebrate multiple titles and successes. Which ones are you thinking of in particular?
Iris Mauderer: Clearly the European Championship title last year and last but not least the World Championship this year. If you have won 12 German, 3 European Vice and 2 Vice World Championships in three decades, then the two titles of the past two years are the highlights. I’m proud of that, because it’s hard work with many hardships behind it. This also includes feeding and caring for the dogs as well as training in all wind and weather. But driving through the snow-covered nature, where you only hear the dogs panting and the sled runners whistling, is a unique feeling.
??? RTL recently broadcast a great feature on the occasion of your World Cup, which you can be particularly proud of and which brought in a great product placement for Polaris.
Iris Mauderer: Yes, that is indeed correct. We documented the training with the Polaris vehicle using several GoPro cameras from my sponsor GoPro on the Sportsman, on my helmet and on a drone and were able to create impressive recordings.
??? They flew in from Romania for the occasion a Roman Catholic priest who is also a world class sled dog sport. What made you do this?
Iris Mauderer: Attila Kiss is indeed an excellent musher and the only priest among sled dog athletes in the world. Immediately after the World Championships, two of my top bitches gave birth to a total of 14 puppies, i.e. two world champion litters. A white male seems to have the potential for a command leader who could lead the team in the future. Priest Attila blessed it with the name ‘Polaris’ when I honored the mayor of Waldfeucht in the town hall.
??? Then you want your Polaris dog to be just as reliable and fast as the Polaris Sportsman?
Iris Mauderer: Yes, at least I hope so. The future will show. At this young age it is impossible to say with absolute certainty.
??? We thank you for the open discussion and wish you continued success and all the best for your sporting future. chk
Contact: > FISTC – Fédération Internationale Sportive de Traineau a Chiens
Contact: > Husky Kennels
Visit the rest of the site for more useful and informative articles!