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Dog Sled Man

Who is Fabrizio Lovati

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The beginning of a passion...

La nascita della passione At the age of 13, Fabrizio Lovati from Courmayeur began a passion for the sport of Sled dogging thanks to one of his neighbours who had imported from the United States a sled dog. Working together with him for about two years (until January 1989) and despite his young age, Lovati began taking part, year after year, in national and international races reaching higher and higher levels such as winning the Italian Cup in 1990 in the 6 dog category, the French MD Championship in 1992 and in the same season the Italian Sprint Open Championship.

Evolution...

L'evoluzione Already during the 1992 season, Lovati now with more experience decided to take part in worldwide sled dog races like the famous ALPIROD, 1,000 kilometres across the Alps which the best mushers in the world of mid to long distance races participate in.
On reaching adulthood he took part in four of the greatest European competitions and was placed amongst the first 15 teams in each race, winning prizes such as the Rookie of the Year (best placing for a first time racer) and best Sled dog Driver.

Specialization, the start of the Sled dog School

Specializzazione From 1992 until 1996 Lovati, who passed with top marks the Instructors Course, started up the Grandes Jorasses Sled dog School in Courmayeur, Lovati introduced the world of musher races and training huskies to pull sleds. This was a novelty in the range of winter activities available.
Lovati's centre at that time had 45 sled dogs selected for pulling sleds and so became one of the most famous schools in Europe.

The Veterinary Team

L'équipe The Lovati Centre is one of the few in Europe that has the support of a group of vets belonging to ENVA (Ecole Nazionale Veterinarie de Alfort) under the supervision of Professor Grandjean. Since June 2000 the Race Training Centre has also been working alongside the sport study centre at the University of Milan.
The Lovati Team Course is looked after during events and shows by the vets Doctor Fara and Doctor Barelli, who ensure all the dogs needs are met during races.

The Guinness

In the year of 1992 Lovati became the first Italian to reach the top of Monte Rosa 4,554 metres by sled dog, an idea previously thought of as being absurd and in 1993 he reached the top of Gran Paradiso 4,061 metres, so becoming the only Italian to have got to the summit of two 4,000 metre mountains with a team of sled dogs.

1996 The accident...

Following a serious road accident in March 1996, Lovati was forced to stay out of racing for two long winter seasons, during which time he underwent difficult surgical operations on his right knee and followed a hard rehabilitation program. His injuries amounted to 40% invalidity.

1999 The great return...

Fabrizio Lovati Despite his terribile accident, during the winter of '99, Lovati decided to move his kennels to Finland so that he could begin to train again to take part in international races.
Thanks to hard training in the Scandinavian forests, he was able to take part in the Norwegian Mid Distance Championship which he WON arriving a long way in front of the second place team. In the same year he took part, not as a first timer, in the European Championships achieving 12th place and during the World Championships he leaded the Italian team to 15th place overall.
After having been out of the circuit for two years these results were excellent and were also achieved because of the good training the dogs had had in the climatic conditions in northern Scandinavia. In fact in the Finnish Championship in March 1999, Lovati and his team came first. Because of these great results, Lovati decided to go back to racing in southern Europe, and in mid-March he took part in the first edition of the ALPIRUSH, a long distance race in the French VERCORS, where he came 2nd place followed by a 1st place in the Italian Championship held in Moena.
During the summer of 1999, Lovati's Italian Team were invited to participate in the great ANDIROD '99 “La gran Carrera de la Patagonia 500”, the only European participants amongst 30 local teams with the exception of one Japanese team and one American.
After eight stages Lovati lead the race winning the title of South American Champion.

2000

Tramonto The Italian Team participated in the second edition of the ALPIRUSH '00, and they got 4th place overall following the lead of two great mushers: the 1999 Champions and vice Champions of the World, and so finishing just a few seconds behind the world's strongest teams.
In January 2000 (from 23.02 to 05.02) Lovati took part in the mythical PIRENA 2000, a race with stages adding up to a total of 400 kilometres over the Spanish and French Pyrenees; this competition is classified as World Cup IFSS. The Italian Team of sled dog got 3rd place overall, behind the second place Norwegian Elisabeth Edland, 11 minutes faster, who is nick-named the fastest woman in Europe and the Canadian winner Grant Beck, repeated American champion of mid-distance races, who won with a 19 minute lead in the race which lasted about 14 hours. Apart from coming third in that race which is considered the hardest in Europe, he also won the title of French MD Champion, bronze in the World Cup IFSS race in Canada and third place in the Spanish Championship.
During March 2000 Lovati participated in the second phase of the World Cup IFSS in Canada, in the first stage “RAE EDZO” Lovati came 6th place overall; in the second to last stage, Lovati fell dislocating his shoulder and splintering his right clavicle with the unfortunate consequences of not being able to participate in the last race of the World Cup 2000 “Yellowknife”.

2001

This was not a good season for the Italian Team, in Italy it snowed heavily and there was high avalanche risk preventing the Team from doing enough training to be able to take part in Mid-distance competitions, infact Lovati only came 6th place overall in the general classification of the World Cup for Mid-distance IFSS-PIRENA 2001.

2002 A season of returning to form...

Lovati came first place in the International ALPIRUSH Competition in the first stage of the 2002 World Cup.
In the second stage of the World Cup, PIRENA '02, Lovati came second place. He earned third place overall in the European Mid-distance Championships and he won the World Cup IFSS 2002.

2003

Fabrizio Lovati This was a season for reflection.
After a number of attempts over the past few years to create an area where the sled dogs could be kept, unfortunately without success, Lovati found himself in great difficulty trying to keep a rearing ground for his dogs in the Aosta Valley; the place where they were previously kept had become very narrow due to owners wanting back their land and construction work of the motorway which connects Courmayeur to the Mont Blanc tunnel, which created dust that was dangerous for the dogs eyes and lungs (to say the least); plus there was the problem of the noise of the work which went on 24 hours a day.
Despite all of this Lovati and his Team took place in the fourth edition of the PIRENA ’03 obtaining 4th place overall. At the IFSS Mid distance World Championships in Bernau (Germany) he came 6th overall.
After 16 years experience of competing in European races and following the ongoing problems he had incurred with his rearing ground, Lovati had to decide where to go next, either hang up the sled for the last time or try to regenerate interest in this sport that is little known in Italy, planning new objectives to follow. In March 2003 he went to Alaska without his team of dogs, to watch and study the most important race in the world the IDITAROD. Two other participants of this famous race, Doug Swingley and Joe Ruyan, gave Lovati a lot of help in strategy with the aim of getting a good result when taking part in the Iditarod. When he returned to Italy he had already signed up for the 2004 edition of the IDITAROD...
He also planned to participate in the IFSS World Mid-distance Championships in Oregon, USA.

2004

The Great Race Iditarod This season marked a big change, after the trip to Alaska in 2003, Lovati’s team prepare to take part in the 2004 edition of the IDITAROD race, with the hope of beating the Italian record, using only their own dogs. After a season of training in Montana (USA), on 6th March Lovati’s team was present on the 4th Avenue in Anchorage of the starting line ready to face the 1,800 kilometre race which separates Anchorage from the small town of Nome (AK).
He completed the race in 10 days and 22 hours, arriving 28th place overall and becoming the fastest Italian and one of the 25 Rookies (the name for first timers) who were the fastest in the history of the Iditarod.

2005-2007

Cani da slitta After the great success gained durino the previous season, it was decided to try to improbe the level of breeding and to work on a specific plan of reproduction, infact, today Lovati proudly owns a line of true breeds, excellent in adapting to all the specialties and categories.
Sadly in 2005, the premature and unexpected death of Giorgio Lovati, Fabrizio’s father, at the age of 68, disrupted all the training programs, the Italian Team was unable to participate in the IDITAROD 2005 race, but took part in the first edition of the Grand Odyssee 2005.
During 2006, the whole team transferred from the Aosta Valley to Willow in Alaska, and they achieved a mediocre result, completing the course in 11 days and 3 hours and coming 38th overall. This result was expected, in fact the training plan aimed to re-attempt the competition in 2008 and get in to the top 20.
In 2007 Lovati, who had an injury on his left knee, together with his handler, Hernan Maguieira (Iditarod Musher 2007) achieved a magnificent accomplishment taking to Nome 15 puppies that would be the protagonists during the 2008 season.

2008

Iditarod 2008 They said it was a lucky number, because for the third time Lovati wore number 77 on the starting line of the last great race in Alaska “THE IDITAROD 2008”.
This should have been the year of getting into the top 20, it was going well up to Check Point at McGrath, where Lovati had to be rushed to hospital with pneumonia.
It was possible that the Italian Team would loose their placing, but as they were being followed by an Italian Filming Crew, they decided to concentrate full time on filming the documentary in Full HD, and for the third time in a row, Fabrizio passed the NOME ARCH, the gaol for all mushers, arriving 48th place overall.
In May 2008 the Italian Team came back from Alaska, bringing with them a fantastic documentary that all of us can now enjoy as a DVD. It consists of a 30 minute Full HD documentary with a slide show and special contents.

2009 RETURN HOME

2009 Back home In May 2008 we returned home, we left our Alaskan base, and after a 1,600 mile journey between Wasilla – Alaska and Calgary (Canada), the Lovati dogs arrived back in Italy.
For this coming home season we went to Finland for our Winter Base, and this was a new experience for us in the Erakeskus Lodge in North Karelia.
This organisation is Swiss run, and has been running for some time programmes called “Nature Trail”, dedicated to tourists looking for adventure holidays in close contact with nature. Utilising their 100 kilometres of prepared tracks, our teams prepared for the famous European race FINNMARKSLOPET 1000, the furthest north race in the world, departing in March from Northern Norway.
The 2009 edition, was characterised by warm weather, the heat in the day time hours really damaged the Italian team, in fact many of the team members felt unwell, and so Lovati made the decision to abandon the race at the 600 kilometre mark. It was a difficult decision to make, but was a good one, and the team will be ready to compete in the 2010 edition.

2010 MUSHING UNDER THE ALPINE SKY

There are lots of new ideas for the 2010 winter season, most importantly Sled Dog tourism has returned to the Aosta Valley, our organisation has taken up its reins again in the most spectacular locations in the Valley offering excursions for the novice and those already impassioned with this sport.
As far as competing is concerned, we will be taking part in the Grande Odyssee a 700 kilometre race across the Alps taking place in Avoriaz in France from 10 January 2010, and in March Lovati will depart in number 1 position for the Finnmarkslopet race with renewed hope after last years disappointment.