[INTERVIEW] Laurent Berge tells us about the 2018 WSA World Championships...

      

[Inlandsis] Congratulations on your 2nd place at the WSA World Championships! How did your race go? Any special stories?
[Laurent Berge] My watch word during the race was caution. The race distance of 14.5km was significantly higher what we are used to, so over the 3 heats, the objective was to focus on dogs' recuperation. It was a first for us in Scandinavia and the Swedish weather conditions has a significant impact on the dogs' performances. The very low temperatures but above all the very low air humidity allowed the dogs to express their full potential (a 15% increase in performance I think) and we therefore reached higher speeds than usual.

Laurent Berge at Sveg for the 2018 WSA World Championships

Laurent Berge was second (Sveg, Sweden)

In your opinion, what did your performance lack in order to take 1st place?
More time!!!!!!!!!!! My direct opponent Stepan, a Czech (it's the 4th time I've finished in 2nd place behind him in an international event!) does not work all winter and can enjoy ideal training conditions (perfect private snow tracks up to 18km).... A set-up of almost professional level. My personal set-up is very different (more than 75% of training is done on dry land and on a 5.5km snow track circuit). So he has a better knowledge of his dogs' limits, plus he is a great champion! To reach the next level, I would need more free time...

How did you prepare for this race? What was your training plan?
The usual training programme I would say! Trying to balance professional life and weather conditions... But the season has been a bit too long since I won the World Championship on dry land in November 2017 in Italy... And I think that the many injuries I had to face just before the championships may be the result of that.
My training plan was essentially the same: improve the dogs' dry land running performances (ability to run long distances, 20 to 25% more than standard race time, at a lower speed of course) and for a team of 6 huskies, without forgetting to work on power (pulling ability while running at high speed).

How did you manage the nutrition and hydration of your dogs during the race?
I have been using Royal Canin for many years and this year I finally found very good quality duck meat products! For hydration, I also use an RC product containing electrolytes and used by vets to re-hydrate sick dogs. The objective is to encourage the dogs to drink small quantities several times a day, at least 2 to 2.5l and 2 days minimum before the race. The trip to Sweden is long and challenging for dogs and humans alike! The hydration issue must thus be addressed very quickly.

Laurent Berge and his team of husky dogs

Laurent Berge and his team of 6 husky dogs.

If you had to run this race again, what would you change?
Well... Good question! Actually not that much... I think that at some point the dogs almost reached their limit... An injured dog left us a bit short.... but honestly I think that second place was a fair result.

Do you have you a tip for those who would like to compete in this type of event with husky dogs?
Passion, patience, the ability to listen... The chance to meet a real mentor (in my case Cath and Thierry Fontaine. Unfortunately Thierry died a few years ago but saved us a considerable time), and above all the ability to question yourself and understand what needs to be improved.

Thank you Laurent, good luck and see you soon ;-)