An organizer with Yellowknife's Canadian Championship Dog Derby says he's hopeful the race will go ahead this weekend, despite the fact that a snowplow plunged through the ice on Great Slave Lake while clearing the route.
The snowplow went through the ice this weekend near Joliffe Island while clearing a trail for the race, which is held annually in Yellowknife. The 2016 race is scheduled to start Friday, with teams expected from as far away as Wyoming.
"At this point, it's premature to say, but it just looks like one weak spot on the island, close to the shore," says race organizer Grant Beck. "We were making a dog trail as we normally do for the last 30, 40 years.
"We hit an air pocket... that didn't have sufficient ice to hold the truck that we had. That's what it seems like right now."
The truck is the second to fall through ice in the territory this month. On March 5, a fuel tanker broke through ice on Great Bear Lake, near the community of Deline.
Beck says that preliminary tests on the rest of the route show that the ice is thick enough for the race to go on as scheduled.
"We're still going forward with it," he says. "It looks pretty good. We're still testing to make sure we can make it happen and there are various ways of doing that. Maybe go around that hole."
This weekend also marks the Long John Jamboree, a spring carnival that takes place on Great Slave Lake, as well as the final weekend of the Snowking Festival, which also takes place on the lake.
Site organizers for the Jamboree say that they aren't concerned about ice thickness at their location, saying that they've measured the ice at at least 26 inches thick, with some of it being frozen right to the bottom of the lake.
As of Tuesday, the plow is still embedded in the lake. Beck says the back wheels of the vehicle are resting on the lake bed, and it hasn't been damaged, with organizers starting it periodically to make sure it still runs.
"It's just a matter of getting the equipment to pull it out," he says.