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A dog sled race … with a little twist

OKOBOJI, Iowa -- Most people may agree that January calls for bundling up or staying warm and cozy at home, but thousands did just the opposite this past weekend as the University of Okoboji Winter Games.

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Dave Clark, dressed as Elvis Presley, leads his team to the finish line during the Human dogsled race at the Parks Marina Saturday afternoon. (Martina Baca/Daily Globe)

OKOBOJI, Iowa - Most people may agree that January calls for bundling up or staying warm and cozy at home, but thousands did just the opposite this past weekend as the University of Okoboji Winter Games.

The annual event attracted more than 10,000 people from across the state and beyond, and offered a wide variety of events for youngsters and adults to participate. From jumping in the icy waters of West Lake Okoboji to a Tug-of-War on the ice at Okoboji Boat Works to competing in the human dogsled race, there were winter-themed activities aplenty.

More than 12 teams competed head-to-head in the human dogsled race, competing down and back on an ice track in a double-elimination tournament. Three people pulled each tube and one person rode it.

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All prizes in the event were slated to be donated to the winners’ non-profit organization of choice, with Budweiser matching the amount.

“We actually have around 12 to 15 teams every year, but the event always draws a big crowd,” Park Marina Marketing Director Ashley Sorenson said. “Everybody loves to come and watch the teams compete.”

So what do the teams need to do to win?  

“Go fast and don’t fall,” said 21-year-old Spencer Hopkins, a University of South Dakota student and a member of this year’s winning team, the USD Coyotes.

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The USD Coyotes showed great improvement over last year, when they placed fourth. The undefeated team took the championship away from the defending human dogsled race winners, who did manage to earn recognition for being the team with the best costumes, with some of its members dressed as Russians, Waldo and Elvis Presley.  

  

“We practiced a lot, we did aquatics aerobics and squats daily,” said Dave Clark, a member of the dethroned champions. “But our main strategy is to be dressed as silly as possible and just have some fun.”

A veteran of not only the event but also at the Winter Games was Jack Hopkins, also a USD Coyotes member, who has come for several years with his family to enjoy as many activities as possible.

“We always have a lot of fun,” Hopkins said. “We like to see the bands at night, and we would go and see the Burning of the Greens and the Keg Toss and just go all over the place.”

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