Meet Steve Sanchez, the DockDogs announcer at the GoPro Mountain Games
Steve Sanchez spends up to seven months each year traveling across the U.S. and Canada watching dogs jump into pools, chasing after toys that their owners tossed out into the water for them to fetch.
As an official announcer for all the DockDogs events at the GoPro Mountain Games, he loves watching the dogs, of course. But for him, it’s also about creating a great experience for everyone who comes out to watch.
“For me, this is an every-weekend thing, so the announcing part, it’s easy for me now,” he said.
His primary goal is to create a fun-for-everyone event.
Sanchez, originally from outside Los Angeles, started his announcing career calling marathons and triathlons, but he realized those events can get boring for people who aren’t into running. While he was out working, he met a friend who invited him out to watch a competition to see if he was interested in announcing. When he saw it, he knew he loved it right away.
“I’m a pretty normal guy except for when I do this crazy stuff,” he said.
Now in his sixth summer calling DockDogs, and his third summer in Vail, Sanchez keeps things fun for himself and for spectators by watching things as they happen. He learned from working running competitions that if he looks down at his paperwork too much, he’ll miss important moments.
“For me, it’s kinda just announcing what’s up in front of me instead of getting lost in my announcer’s paperwork,” he said.
He tries not to have a catchphrase or a go-to line when he’s calling, but his favorite dog pun is “round of appaws.” He once saw a dog do a backflip into the pool trying to chase a poorly tossed toy.
Aside from the Mountain Games, Sanchez works plenty of other big DockDogs events. The Clark County Fair in Ridgefield, Washington, has a Doggie Summer Camp program where dogs and their owners can sign up for two weeks of training. He also calls the World Championships in Dubuque, Iowa, which will take place Oct. 23-27 this year. Anywhere from 500 to 800 teams compete in five indoor pools, which run waves — the DockDogs synonym for heats — simultaneously.
“This is child’s play compared to the World Championships,” he said of the Mountain Games.
While the competition can get intense in the professional DockDogs world, Sanchez loves the competition because it’s so universal.
“This is the one thing that I do that it doesn’t matter who you are, what age or demographic you represent, when you walk by, you stop, you smile and you watch. That’s what makes this really cool,” he said.
To see the DockDogs pools, head over to Lionshead Village. Big Air DockDogs qualifying waves happen in 10 rounds from Thursday to Sunday morning, with finals at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Dueling Dogs will face off in 10 rounds, with finals at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. DockDogs Extreme Vertical has one wave at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Speed Retrieve all-in-one finals occurs at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. New this year, DockDogs hopefuls can try it out on Friday at 5 p.m.
Ready, set, go
Sanchez has a 1-and-a-half year old Labradoodle and a Welsh Corgi. His labradoodle loves to swim, but he still gets nervous about jumping off the dock into the water. Here are some tips to know before entering your dog in a DockDogs competition.
- Save time and secure your place in the competition by pre-registering online to avoid first-come, first-serve registration onsite.
- Dogs must be at least 6 months old, and handlers must be at least 7 years old. (So yes, kids can do it, too.)
- At the event, dogs should be leashed or crated in the designated area at the event.
- Be sure to show up 30 minutes early before each wave you’re competing in. There’s a mandatory handlers’ meeting, and anyone who doesn’t make it will lose their spot in the lineup without an entry-fee refund.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.