Champion musher Hans Gatt moves from dogs to dirt bikes

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Mushing champion Hans Gatt proved he could move fast when he and his dogs demolished the speed record in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in 2011. But what about motocross? After his retirement from mushing, he has taken his winning ways to a new sport ... well, new for his mushing fans, anyway.

Gatt, a four-time Yukon Quest champion, lapped the field at Copper Haul Hare Scramble dirt bike race in Whitehorse, Yukon, on Sunday, winning the expert division.

The Yukon News reports that Gatt, 54, completed the 75-kilometer race in one hour, 45 minutes. The News reported the obstacles including boulders, tires, a trench of chopped firewood, and lots of winding single-track through the woods.

Gatt speculated to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in 2011 that he might take up motocross after getting out of dogs. He raced dirt bikes at the national level in his native Austria decades ago.

“I was riding 40 years ago and then I quit for a long, long time, and then (Yukon Cross Country Motorcycle Association president) Chris Locke and some of the guys here got me back into it about three years ago,” Gatt told the News. “So now I’m picking up what I knew 40 years ago.”

As a musher, Gatt shattered the Yukon Quest record in 2010, finishing in 9 days and 26 minutes -- breaking the record by 23 hours. That year he went on to finish second in the Iditarod and third in 2011 before announcing his retirement from mushing -- but apparently not from going fast.

Gatt's partner, Susie Rogan, won the women's novice division of the motorcycle race. She is signed up to race in both the Iditarod and Yukon Quest 300 in 2013.