Marcelle Fressineau and her dogs
The Yukon is one of the most famous places for dogsledding. Long winters, rugged wilderness, and great distances are some of the best assets of the territory. Every year, in February, the legendary Yukon Quest makes the Yukon the center of the mushing world. For all these reasons, passionate mushers from all around the world have decided to make the Yukon their homes. Marcelle Fressineau is one of them. In the following interview she shares her passion for the dogs and for the Yukon.
Damien Tremblay: You were born in Switzerland. You moved in Canada in 1995. What motivated this move? Then, you moved to the Yukon. Why?
Marcelle Fressineau: In Switzerland, I already had sled dogs but I was living in a village where we were not allowed to have more than 6 dogs. Thus, I was looking for another place to live. Quebec was recruiting French speaking immigrants and I found a place there, outside a municipality, where I was allowed to have as many dogs as I wanted.
I moved to Yukon in 2007. I had already visited the territory several times and I loved it.
DT: When did your passion for the dogs and mushing start?
MF: I have always loved dogs. I love winter and winter sports. I received my first sled dog as a birthday present... in 1988.
DT: How would you compare the life in Europe to the life in Yukon? What does your family thinks of your move to Yukon?
MF: I feel more freedom here because there are less people, I guess.
My mother and father passed away before I left Switzerland and my brothers, sister and nephews know me and know that the Yukon life perfectly fits who I am.
DT: You own Alayuk Adventures. Where is it located? What services are you offering?
MF: Alayuk Adventures is located on Annie Lake Road. We offer dogsledding experience from half day to weeks-long expeditions. In summer, we offer guided experiences, canoeing, hiking or backpacking. More info here.
DT: What are the challenges you are facing in your everyday life as a musher and as a business owner?
MF: This life is a challenge in itself. It is like another business, we have to find customers, deliver a good service, etc. But the difference with other businesses is that we must take care of our dogs (It takes time) and feed them. (It takes a lot of money). 365 days a year.
DT : You love travelling in the wilderness. What is your favourite time when you are mushing in the Yukon landscape?
MF: The most memorable moments are always the “Northern Lights video show” and when the dogs speed up suddenly, smelling a wild animal. Then, I can catch a glimpse of a moose, a caribou or a rabbit…
DT : What emotions are you experiencing when you are mushing through the Yukon wilderness?
MF: In this huge wilderness with my dog team, I feel like if we are a little centipede moving silently...
"Yukon Centipede", dogsledding in Yukon
DT : In February 2012 you will participate to the Yukon Quest. Is it the first time?
MF: It is my third time, but I didn’t finish in 2002 and 2005.
DT : Do you have any expectations respecting your performances during that race?
MF: I hope to finish for the banquet.
DT : What kind of preparation is required for the Yukon Quest? In a few words can you tell us what your training schedule is?
MF: It is the second season that I train this dog team. Last season, the dogs ran 6000 km and this season, my goal is to have them run 4000 km before the race, and I am on my schedule. It is a mix of long runs, up to 6 hours or 8 hours, and shorter runs.
DT : What advice would you give to someone who wants to live the dream of being a musher?
MF: The first season, it is better to start with an experienced musher to learn as many things as possible.
DT: Thanks Marcelle and good luck for the Quest.
More information on Marcelle and Alayuk Aventures can be found at: http://www.alayuk.com