Jana Vodvarkova

15 march 2014

The chief veterinarian of the race Jana Vodvarkova told us how she sees Russia and its traditions, how the weather affects the dogs and about the differences between mushers and sportsmen.

- This is your first time in Russia, isn’t it? What do you think of it?

- Russia is a very interesting country. People here are kind and polite, and I love the nature. But there are some things that are weird for me. It’s hard to explain, we just have different characters but I can’t say anything bad about it.

- Do you know any Russian traditions?

- Our translator, Nastya Popenko, tries to enlighten me about this but I don’t know much. I have too little time for understanding them, but I’m honestly trying. I think your country has a very long history and 10 days are not enough to learn even the smallest part of Russian traditions. But I was at the banya (Russian sauna) and I liked it a lot. It’s a really good thing.

- You don’t speak Russian at all. Are there any problems with understanding others?

- It was hard at the beginning. I didn’t speak English for quite a while and at first I couldn’t understand almost anything. Now it is a lot easier. But sometimes Russians try to speak their language very slowly and, you know, I understand them! It’s all because Czech and Russian languages are alike, they are both slavic languages.

- What could you say about the weather? How does it affect the dogs?

- Fortunately, all mushers and skiers are taking proper care of their dogs. That’s why the dogs don’t overheat. But the problem with their paws is rather important now. Due to the ice on some parts of the trail there are micro fissures between pads that give discomfort to the dogs. But mushers constantly grease them with special cream and put booties on dogs’ paws. So it’s easy to prevent such troubles.

- So you are saying that there are no serious problems with dogs’ health?

- No, there aren’t. The only thing is that many dogs limp but that’s not because of the injuries, just because of the muscle sprain. That’s not the reason to disqualify dogs from the race, they just need to have a massage, then have a rest at night and in the morning they will be ready to run the distance.

- Jana, could you tell us about the atmosphere and the mood at the race?

- All participants are very nice people, but I think that they are divided on two groups: sportsmen and mushers. And I think that there are more people of the first group. I’m not saying that they are worse, they are just different. For example, many participants go through the checkpoint without stopping, trying to go faster, make their time better. While others stop, eat, check their dogs and don’t care about the time. For me those are the real mushers. They came here not to win but to have fun, talk to other people who are like them.

Jana used to be both handler and musher but she confessed that she is not that good at it to take part in big races. Everyone who takes part in the race “KALEVALA 2014” loves Jana for her cheerful and kind-hearted nature. Let’s hope that she’s coming to us not for the last time.