The High North Tour 2021: The Pandemic Put an End to Races for All Mushers in the Arctic

Roger Fossøy of Gargia Husky was one out of many mushers who for the second year running had to accept that the sleddog races, such as the Finnmark Race, were cancelled due to the pandemic. (Photo/film: Arne O. Holm)
Gargia: Roger Fossøy feels the pandemic in everything he does. As a professional musher, he has seen all races cancelled. For the second year in a row. His winter tourism company a couple of miles outside Alta has also taken a blow.

I visited Roger Fossøy and Gargia Husky a few weeks after he was supposed to participate in the Finnmark Race.

“It is demanding”, Roger Fossøy says.

As early as in April, the year before a race is to take place, he starts selecting the best dogs. And by August, training is well underway.

The difference is the polar bear

“[It was] Particularly challenging in relation to the Finnmark Race, where the message about cancelling the race came only 14 days prior to race start. We had done all the training and were literally just waiting for a decision either way. Everything was ready, and most of what we were to put in the depot bags was already packed.”

“But training had proceeded as normal?”

“It had. And it is easy, of course, to say in hindsight that we had an excellent team. But we really did”, Fossøy says.

Snow conditions had been favorable with good  trails all through the season.

Roger Fossøy has also lived as a trapper and busher in Svalbard.

“The big difference between Svalbard and Finnmark is the polar bear.”

Just before this season, Roger Fossøy went all-in with his tourist operations too.

“As for compensation claim schemes, we fall between every chair there is”, Roger Fossøy says.

You can watch the whole interview with the merited musher and his dogs on top of this page. (Subtitles available in English.)

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.