Agility World Championship 2019: interview with agility judge Sari Mikkilä

Photo: Kati Knuuttila

The event of the year, FCI Agility World Championship 2019, will be held here in Finland in the fall. In this series of posts you’ll be able to read interviews on this year’s main and assisting judges, amongst other things. First we begin with the competition’s other main judge Sari Mikkilä. We found out what her priorities in designing a course are as well as her favourite obstacle and why.

Sari Mikkilä is a Finnish agility judge who, after becoming a judge, has actively worked as one both in Finland and abroad. Sari also trains and competes regularly in class 3 small with her two Shetland Sheepdogs. In the future we will also see her in larger classes as she has a young border collie at home.

Sari ended up becoming an agility judge over ten years ago because there weren’t many judges then where she lives and competes. Also, a career as a judge felt like a natural progression to her agility hobby of so many years.

“The best thing about judging is seeing the handlers and dogs on the agility course together”

Agility is an amazing sport because it brings people together. Sari says, in fact, that what is great about judging, is meeting new people around the world who all do agility. “My favourite thing is also seeing the handlers and dogs on the course together; to feel their nerves, see them do their best and trust each other” Sari continues.

What are your expectations and hopes for Agility World Championships 2019?

”I expect Finland to organize a great agility competition, in which the organisation works well together and everything goes smoothly. Sari also hopes to be able to design courses that are suitably challenging, in which speed and technique are in balance.

Sari aims to design courses that require a good and balanced amount of speed and technique

Judges always have an idea and aim for their courses. We found out what Sari’s are and where she gets her inspiration.

Sari’s general aim is to design courses that have good lines for the dog, yet not lacking in speed. She also strives to design courses that offer several handling possibilities, out of which the handlers can choose the most suitable one for them. It’s as Sari says, “a good and balanced amount of speed and technique”. Sari trains and competes actively in addition to judging and says that she gets her ideas for courses and lines from different agility courses and seminars that she attends with her dogs.

Everyone has a favourite agility obstacle and we wanted to find out what Sari’s one is. “Perhaps weave poles” says Sari and continues “they require a lot of skill and can be used in many ways”.

A dog with good independent obstacle skills and a handler who can move well can succeed on Sari’s courses

According to Sari, to succeed it’s advantageous to be able to move well on a course and have a dog with good independent obstacle skills. The most important thing of all is, however, to trust in the dog’s skills!

Sari’s regards to agility competitors today

Sari gets to follow both national and international agility competitors from closeby. Based on her experiences, Sari wants to emphasise the importance of training: “Teach your agility dogs good independent obstacle skills and have the patience to build good foundations. Then it will be easy to run courses later on. Also, hold on to your criteria.”

Click here to view Sari’s course profiles on her facebook page.

Next we’ll be publishing an interview on the other AWC main judge, Toshiyuki Oba from Japan, on our blog. Read to find out what the most important skill for success is.

All the best,

Psst! Next SUA All Stars will start on 31 May. Find out, if you want to move well on an agility courses.

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