Canine Competitors Fly in Hope of Gold

By: James Steiner
By: James Steiner

Sunday more than 130 dogs tried to jump their way into ESPN's Great Outdoor Games, which will be held here in Reno next month.

This was the last chance for the canine competitors to get an invitation to the July event.

For Wade Coplin, it was a 900-mile journey from Montana to Nevada. Right now his dog, Dwight, is ranked 14th in the world.

"They don't call it 'big air' for nothing. My friends nicknamed him 'bad', big air Dwight," Coplin said.

Coplin hopes a jump of 22-'6" inches will move him up to 12th place and qualify the black lab for the Great Outdoor Games.

Rick Oswalt of Diamond Lakes, Oregon is trying to move his dog "Thunder" up 21 spots to make the cut. But jumps of 18'-9", and 18'-3" inches may not be enough.

"He loves it. He lives for his buoy and to go swimming, you bet," Oswalt said.

Most of the canine competitors are out here to have fun, and get a little wet.

Event organizers say this turned out to be the largest pre-qualifying contest ever before the "Big Air" events next month.

"I think this is just a community that likes dogs and dogs jumping off of docks. They came out in droves," said Eric Matijevich of ESPN's Great Outdoor Games.

Spectators say it's about time more events came to Northern Nevada, other than gaming.

"We just wanted to see the dogs jump off a pier. We don't see that much in town," said David Capurro.

They'll be treated to quite a show in July when "Little Morgan" defends his top world ranking at Rancho San Rafael Park.

These dogs will have to beat 26'-6."

Here are the final results from Sunday's competition.

* Xena was top dog, with a jump of 23'-6
* Second place went to Dwight, with a jump of 22'7"
* Nipping at their heels was Hogan in third place, with a jump of 21'-3"


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