Slow and steady tortoise beats rabbit, wins pet ski-off

BEIJING (TIP): A tortoise beat a rabbit in a skiing competition held for pets and their owners in China, a report said on January 13. Cats and dogs faced off against a menagerie including a rooster and a yellow duck in a race to the finish line on snowy slopes in Henan province, the state-run China News Service said. The 40 human competitors were allowed to place their animals on skis or sledges, or could guide the pet with a lead while skiing, the report said. In an unexpected outcome akin to an ancient Greek fable, a tortoise beat a rabbit, with the shelled reptile eventually claiming third place overall, the report said. “Because the rabbit loved jumping and didn’t follow its owner’s commands, it was overtaken by the tortoise,” it said.

The tortoise — which would normally be expected to hibernate during the winter — apparently hitched a ride on its owner’s ski equipment, the report added. Pictures showed a yellow duck taking to the slopes in a fetching red neck tie, attracting curious stares from two dogs, before being held aloft by its owner who clutched a red certificate of honour after it waddled over the finish line — even though it finished last overall. The bird’s “spirit of persistence rendered onlookers speechless with admiration,” the report said. Skiing has become more popular in China in recent years, with a range of slopes opening across the country’s cold north, and it is bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The bid, though, faces a number of challenges, not least that Asia will host both the 2018 winter Games in South Korea’s Pyeongchang and the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo. The US state of California plays host to an annual dog-surfing competition, and a Chinese farmer made headlines in 2012 for training pigs to dive from a threemetre platform.

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