translated by Piotr Łabiński
This was my third championships in Switzerland. I had different adventures but I still managed to come back home with good results. In 2009 we took part in the European Sleddog Racing Championships. A few things stuck in my mind: winning gold and the champion title, really hot weather (considering it was February), our adventure with dog meat and the fact that a hotel maid stole from us quite a lot of francs. Unlikely as it seems but that really happened. If you know me, you know that I am not, for better or for worse, the one to forget easily. So this year I took from Switzerland as much as I could. I took away others’ dreams of a red jacket, I took two red jackets, two European Champion titles and one Vice-Champion title. But I couldn’t shake one thought: is it what was supposed to be? Could it have turned out differently? Things can always go differently, there is always something that can get in your way and things turn out not the way you wanted them to be. Still, years of work according to the plan, training, notes, living with a sighthound and a stroke of luck all came together in Lotzwil and helped my sighthound to be the BEST IN FIELD of a day. And it is hardly surprising that the winner of the title was SZCZĘŚCIARA (eng: Lucky one) from Jurajskie Biskupice. While we were going back camp from the event, with two gold medals and a silver one, one of my friends said: – Darek, this will be almost impossible to accomplish again. Wiping tears from my eyes I replied: – Nothing can ever happen twice. Most importantly, I do not have to prove anything to anybody anymore. There will be championships next year and you know who is not here?… So tarry a WHILE ( eng. name of CHWILA z Jurajskich Biskupic)!
We started the second day of our celebrations, as Italian sighthounds from Poland were on the podium one day earlier.
Frankly, I have never paid too much attention to watches. But I do appreciate and wear with a special feeling, the one I got a year ago from our friends from Switzerland, owners of Samochwała and Czarodziejka. The watch is red with a white cross on the face. Generally, during the Lotzwil championships I did not look at it too often. Considering the magnitude and size of the event, everything was on schedule. I did not believe that the races would starts at 7 am sharp and the ceremony would take place at 7 pm, as planned. But the organization was very good. The drawing of dogs and judges for races took place a day earlier and was done in such a way so as to prevent any speculations on possible schemes. A few dogs, for example, came over 1,300 km just to race against their neighbour’s dog.
Delicious and with large holes, just the way I like it. Were there any holes in Lotzwil? To an extent, yes. I hate Swiss motorways and roads, so narrow with strange road signs, hard to drive on in a truck with a trailer. I know that the land there is astronomically expensive, but I still cannot stop wondering why the parcours looked like the holes in cheese and huge parking lots looked like cheese itself.
I doubbed the BLUE Parcour, prepared by the French team, I called it 65+. Respect for French engineers who handled it for three days. Their machines were real vehicle structures on high trailers, where an operator – while operating the lure – was standing on the roof, and accelerating using his….leg! My impression was that a hand would be much more precise for this particular purpose. The small parcour, at least for me, had two parts: the first one was to get a sighthound running as fast as possible and the second was to make the dog crazy. I watched competitions of other breeds and my impression was the same: the operator needed 5 to 7 gears to adjust himself to pulling a lure in a way suitable for a given breed.
The German team was in charge of the YELLOW Parcour. They have come to every championship in recent years and at every one of them I have noticed the same thing. Fancy equipment, 4×4 quads, super pulleys, all brought on trailers towed by the latest Mercedes. That’s all I can say about this parcour. Oh, one more thing: this parcour was suitable only for Italian sighthounds.
The RED Parcour, with its lie of the land and the Swiss way of pulling a lure (overhead), did not really win me over. Certainly, it is not as bad for the dogs as many of us feared. However, the set up, and the related restrictions, intended to speed up the races, were not really worth it, all the more so as the dogs often had to wait until the judges have completed giving scores.
Exquisite milk chocolate with nuts. Each of participants got one. And the results of the Polish team were also exquisite. I don’t know if everyone realizes that but it is exactly you, the participants and your dogs, that are making history. What I want to say to those who were on the podium is Now you know what it’s like! To those who were this close I want to say: I hope you know what to do to get there next year! And to those who were far from the podium I say: I hope you know what you need to change to succeed! One thing is sure: you competed with the best trained dogs in Europe. Only such dogs come for the championships, as couch sighthounds are banned from entering the competition. I would like to thank you all for being crazy, cause you have to be really nuts to go 1,300 km so that your dogs could run. And don’t get too excited yet, Norresundby is even farther!
See you there!