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Race Marshal - Sharon Nelson-Curtice

Sharon Nelson-Curtice has been involved in the world of sled dogs for over 20 years. She has owned her own dogs for the past 17 years.  Sharon has experienced great success running short-mid to mid-distances races in the Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota regions.  

As a young girl, Sharon's dream was to have her own sled dog kennel and she made her first steps towards that dream by getting involved with the first UP 200 race.  To her delight, Sharon became involved with a sled dog kennel and began racing teams.  Three years after starting her involvement with the UP 200 and pulling her husband Pete into the sport, she own her own kennel, her dream had come true.

Sharon went on to have a very competitive kennel taking her share of first place prizes competing in the Tahquamenon, Midnight Run, Apostle Islands and Pellston Icebox.  She also placed 2nd in the Beargrease 150, 5th in the UP 200, along with many other top finishes in her carrier.  Although Sharon is no longer racing competitively, she still keeps a handful of dogs that keep her life and her children busy.  Sharon works as a physical therapist assistant in addition to home schooling her three children.

Sharon was invited by the CopperDog 150 in 2009 to be a Race Judge at their first race. She was invited back in 2010. Sharon serves double duty at the CopperDog 150, working as both race judge and teacher, sharing her knowledge, experience and insight with CopperDog 150 planners, officials, and volunteers.  Sharon's warm and friendly personality, keen insight, and calming disposition during hectic situations makes Sharon an ideal Race Judge for the CopperDog 150.

Sharon looks forward each year to judging at the CopperDog 150, spending time with good friends, and working for a great, fun race organization.
posted on 12/21/2018 10:31 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Race Judge - Jon Brown

Jon Brown has been active in dog racing since volunteering at the Tahquamenon Country Sled dog race in 1999. After starting as a volunteer, Jon extended his involvement. He spent several years as the TCSDR Race Director, as well as Vice President of the TCSDR Board of Directors.

Jon has also been involved as a team handler for the last 16 years for teams at the UP200 and Midnight Run, working with multiple mushers from several kennels. Along with Tasha and Ed Stielstra, Jon was one of the co creators of the Midwest Sled Dog Symposium held annually in Curtis Michigan.

Jon has been serving as a Race Judge for the CopperDog since 2017. He has become a huge admirer of the Calumet area and the entire Keweenaw. He plans to continue working with the CopperDog for as long as they will continue to have him.

posted on 2/9/2020 12:00 AM by Doug Harrer | permalink | Back to Top

Chief Veterinarian - Jean Wilcox, DVM

Jean Wilcox is a '94 graduate of Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. She has a practice in Gwinn, MI. 

She has been involved in the UP sled dog races as a vet since 1995 and is excited to be involved in the CopperDog 150 race again this year...she really likes the green parka! 

She tries to follow Dr. Tom around to various races like the Tahquamenon, IronLine, Beargrease, UP200 and the CopperDog.

Her interests beyond vet work include her biking, beading, horses, bird hunting with her spectacular dogs and wilderness trips to canoe and camp with her husband, Burt and appropriate critters when allowed.

posted on 11/30/2011 12:43 AM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Chief Veterinarian - Tom Gustafson, DVM, CVSMT

Tom is a co-owner of the Thompson Veterinary Clinic in Manistique, MI since 1994. He grew up in Escanaba and graduated from the Escanaba Area High School. Tom received his DVM degree from Michigan State University during the latter part of the 20th century. In 2002, he completed training and received certification in Veterinary Spinal Manipulative Therapy from the Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, WI. and incorporates animal chiropractic into his mixed animal practice.Tom is also presently an instructor at the Healing Oasis Wellness Center.

Tom became interested in sled dog medicine and races in 1994. Since then he has been involved as a race veterinarian in various capacities. Races he has been involved with include the CopperDog 150, UP 200 and Midnight Run, Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race, Seney 300, John Beargrease, Great Trails Sled Dog Race, and GM Classic. Tom is also a member of the ISDVMA.

On the home front, Tom is kept busy with 4 kids and their activities, and numerous critters.His hobbies include cross country skiing, bicycling, and building stuff.

posted on by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

Race Director - Jeff Foss

Jeff’s first taste of the Keweenaw occurred when he arrived for school at Michigan Tech to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Soon after arriving he fell in love with the Copper Country and spent much time exploring it’s wonders. Before leaving he had found a passion for organic gardening. This led Jeff into his first career as an organic vegetable farmer, which he did for 15 years, mostly in the Madison, WI area suppling local restaurants there.

His love of the Keweenaw never faded. He returned to the Copper Country in 2011 with his family. Wanting to support the local communities, he saw the CopperDog as a great way to do that. He was recruited into the position of Trail Boss at that time, which was quite the introduction to the world of sled dog racing. From there he spent four years as the Trail Director where he worked closely with the Race Director. This is Jeff's fourth year as Race Director. His experience as the Trail Director and his work with International Frisbee Inc. as the Tournament Director for the International Frisbee Tournament, the oldest Frisbee tournament in the world, have prepared him well for the challenges of leading a 400 person volunteer organization that spans the entire Keweenaw.

posted on 12/21/2017 10:51 PM by Jim Northey | permalink | Back to Top

Asst. Race Director - John Bryant

John grew up and currently lives in Milwaukee Wisconsin. He has strong ties to Houghton and the Keweenaw. His family has deep roots in Central, and are active in the Central Mine Methodist Church reunion yearly which brings descendants of those who worked the mine back to Central to celebrate each summer. He spent his summers growing up in Eagle Harbor, attended Michigan Tech, and along with his daughter is a frequent visitor at his family’s homes in Eagle Harbor.

John has had an interest in Siberian Huskies and has had several of them over the past 20 years, so when CD began he took an immediate interest in the race. He started out as a volunteer handler at the Eagle Harbor checkpoint in 2011. Watching the first team come down the hill into the Eagle Harbor checkpoint was all it took for him to know he wanted to see the race become a great success! John has become more involved in many aspects of the race weekend over the past seven years including technical coordinator, assistant start/finish coordinator, safety and communications, and assistant chief handler.

With 20 years of career progression in the airline and aviation industry John brings strong organizational skills, and a people (and dogs!) first mentality to the great mix of people who make up the CD team. He looks forward to seeing the race continue to grow and being the race mushers love to run.

posted on 12/21/2017 11:12 PM by Jim Northey | permalink | Back to Top

Asst. Race Director - Maddie Harrer

Maddie Longpre-Harrer was born in Laurium on tax day, as she likes to tell people, April 15th 2003. She is a busy young lady. In school she participates in Student Senate, Pep Club, JROTC, she volunteers in a 1st grade classroom, and so many more things. At the age five she got her first taste of CopperDog when her parents Amy and Doug volunteered for a road crossing and followed the race around. Year two and three of the CopperDog Maddie would hang outside of the CopperDog board room listening to them talk about the race and wishing she could somehow be a part of it. Sometimes she would even fall asleep on the couch outside the board room.

Year four was when it all began for her. Her dad decided that it may be a good idea for her to come along on Sunday morning to ride along with the race to the finish. The reason her dad decided on taking her along was because Maddie was putting in the time and was seen at just about every event the CopperDog had put on. Year five Maddie began riding along for the entire race with her Dad and Race Judge Lyle Ross. She was given the hard job of keeping them both in line at just the young age of 10. When Maddie turned 11 she mentioned to her dad, Doug, that she would like to be the race director some day. Of course her dad said that something like that could not happen until she was 18 or older but Maddie was determined to work towards this. Maddie has continued to work hard to understand every aspect of running a race. During the 2018 race she had heard about the day money in memory of a special part of her CD150 family. Maddie sent a message to Race Director Foss and asked if they had a plaque for it or anything other than the check to present. When she found out that they only had the checks Maddie went to the CHS woodshop teacher, designed the plaques, picked out the wood, the size, and carried those with her through the race.

This year 2019 Maddie was asked by Race Director Jeff Foss if she would consider taking charge of the CopperDog's newest race, the CopperDog 25. Of course Maddie was beaming! That part of her dream of taking on more responsibility with the CopperDog had come true. Not only does she still have to keep her dad Doug Harrer and Lyle Ross under control and on task but now she gets to do something that she's dreamed about for many years. In this sport many kids want to be a musher or work with their parents in handling their team but not Maddie. She's one of the crazy ones who wants to run a race and be with her dad! This is all driven by the bond that she has formed with all of the people running the race and the love that she has for the mushers. Maddie will also tell you that she feels that her Musher, Vet Staff and CopperDog family is some of the best friends that she has ever had. This bond is why she does this! Maddie grew up around this race and continues to stay. She plans on being the future of this race in the many years to come.

posted on 12/21/2017 11:12 PM by Jim Northey | permalink | Back to Top

Chief Timer - H.A. "Kiko" de Melo e Silva

Kiko only saw snow for the first time as a teenager. Dog sled racing?!? Think Disney movies.

Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Kiko first arrived in the United States at age 15 in 1987 and the Copper Country in 1990 to attend Michigan Technological University… twice.  Since then, the Copper Country has been home to this research engineer working for the department of civil & environmental engineering at his Alma matter.

A strongly believer in community involvement, hard-work, and parties, volunteering for the first CopperDog 150 was a no-brainer (being gently led to help with race timing however was a “no-brains”). But taking ownership and having a “whether you think you can or you can't, you're right” attitude, the first race was a feat and the second race better yet.

Kiko has contributed greatly to the integrity and professionalism of CopperDog by continually developing and evolving the philosophy and technology by official race timing.  Kiko designed and continues to develop a timing application that leverages the latest Google Sheets technologies to accurately record start and finish times, calculate statistics and standings instantly, and communicate all data to a central database in real-time for officials and fans. Kiko's accomplishments with race timing are nothing short of amazing.

He has lived with dogs, cats, cows, horses, chickens, pigs, birds, some fish, an iguana, and a sheep. He is also good with numbers, pointing, and he can yell really loud. Kiko is strongly committed to making this regional event involving many peoples, cultures, and communities a sustainable success – he does not take his participation as Chief Timer and the race’s positive impact on local people and places lightly. To Kiko, a hopeless romantic, the CopperDog 150 brings the Copper Country alive as if it were a time machine going back to the thriving copper mining days of over 100 years ago.

Kiko lives with his wife and two kids in Calumet and the rest is history…or at least lots of snow. Look for him in his orange mining hat, light and all. Portuguese spoken.

posted on 10/13/2014 7:53 PM by Todd Brassard | permalink | Back to Top

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