In this magazine the section Super Dogs features the athletes of Erick Laforce’s Grizzly Kennel, located in Lanoraie, Quebec, Canada.
Laforce lists as his major achievements successes in the following races: Défi du Lac St-Jean, 6 dogs, 25 miles, two days race for a total of 50 miles; Marmora, 6 dogs 70 miles; Hinckley, Great Trail sled dog race, 8-10 dog class, 60-42-32 miles, three days race for a total of 134 miles; Crosslake, 10 dogs, three days of 33 miles; The PAS, 10 dogs, three days of 35 miles for a total of 105 miles and Fort Resolution, 10 dogs, two days race of 20 miles each day.
Grizzly Kennel has 36 dogs with bloodlines hailing from the kennels of Egil Ellis, Eddy Streeper, Kevin Cook and Serge Pommerlau. The focus of Laforce’s mushing career is running sprint races, 20 to 35 miles in distance. He states that his kennel philosophy is “to pay a close attention to the well-being of the dog as well as their happiness.” Being a small kennel, Laforce said he has no handlers and takes care of the kennel and training himself, sometimes with the help of his sons. He describes his kennel being located in an area characterized by peat bogs and forests. He’s predominately training on flat trails in the forest.
Asked how he got interested in mushing, Laforce said it was his dream since he was 7-years-old and he began by harnessing his father’s Labrador dog. Reading the book “Les chants du Nord” inspired his love for mushing and sled dogs. He grew up in Montreal city and since nobody in his family was involved in the sport, the passion for sled dogs was all his own. “Since I was 14-years-old, I liked to hook my husky Max around town on a home-made sled,” he said.
While his mushing career started in 1993, it came to a temporary end in 2002 after a divorce. After a mushing hiatus from 2003 until 2016, he was back on the mushing circuit in 2017. “It is through my sons, Samuel and Tristant that I returned to the sport,” he said.
When asked about challenges and how to overcome them, he said that the hardest thing is to raise the best team. “The biggest challenge is to keep that good team once you get there,” he said. Also, he said, it’s quite challenging to keep good family relations and a social life as a musher.
As for inspiring words for young and future mushers, he says, “Be yourself and own your own style.”
For the 2020 season, Laforce plans on racing in the Wyoming Stage Stop race, the Open North American Championships in Fairbanks and the Fur Rondy in Anchorage.