Yukon Quest 2013
Just want to give a shout out to that "other" long distance dog sledding race, the Yukon Quest, this year running from Whitehorse, Yukon Territories to Fairbanks, Alaska (they flipflop the start and finish cities each year). Though this race doesn't get the entries and media attention of the Iditarod, it seems like a well-run affair. They have a great website (www.yukonquest.com)! They post lots of free information, including free musher tracking and lots of free photos and videos on the facebook page, which is completely public and viewable by non-facebook members such as myself. Other races, like the Iditarod, require a subscription for the official videos and tracking, so if you think you're at all interested in this incredible sport, the Quest is a great way to get your feet wet! I love the Iditarod, too, and subscribe to the race coverage for it, but I'd like to see the Quest get the attention it deserves.
Wicked Yankee Girl
I hope you'll keep us updated!
Looks like fun! I'll check it out.
From what I hear, they could run the Yukon Quest in Boston this weekend. They're talking about snow of epic proportions. Just direct those dog teams a little south and east.
The Quest is actually becoming more popular in some ways to the Iditarod - especially since it's the only race that has an international course (goes through Alaska and Canada).
I know the 2011 Quest Champion
(leave it to sled dogs to get me to come out of my hiatus for a few moments)
Wicked Yankee Girl
It's good to see you, Toni!
How's the Iditarod looking for this year!
Toni, I don't see any of the Seavey team in the Quest this year, is that right? I guess they have zeroed in on Iditarod prep.
Right now, last year's winner, Hugh Neff, is in the lead in the YQ, closely followed by Allen Moore. Allen and his wife, Aliy Zirkle, are both active mushers. They have had several close finishes in various races the last few years (Aliy was second to Dallas Seavey in last year's Iditarod, and she just lost to Michelle Phillips in a shorter Yukon Quest race a few days ago -- second by 8 seconds!) and they seem like great people (as do most of the mushers), so it would be nice to see Allen finish first. Or Brent Sass, known for helping other mushers/teams out in crises (they all do, but Brent and his dog Silver were instrumental in helping some other teams out in a bad weather situation on Eagle Summit a couple of years back) -- be fun to see him win. Or any number of men and women -- this is such a fun sport to follow, even from so far away.
It certainly is very interesting, especially with the knowledgeable commentary we lucky GS-ers get from Toni and you, Rallycairn.
Let us know how the race turns out. I love that you mention Brent Sass and Silver as collaborators in the efforts to assist the other teams.
Thanks, Olympia, for your kind words, but truly my knowledge is nothing, but nothing, compared to Toni's! I do love the dogs and the drivers and the sport, though and will be happy to give some followup.
Seavey's don't usually do the Quest. Dallas' win is the only time any of them have. He was just lucky to win.
Mitch just won the Tustumena 200 down in Kasilof. He's doing the Denali Doubles this weekend.
We've got about 3 weeks left till the BIG ONE!
I'm hoping Dan Kaduce (Dew Claw Kennel) does well at the Quest.
Lance Mackey ended his Quest at teh half way point. He's not doing well with his new team. Not that I am a fan of his anyway.
Last edited by Tonichelle; 02-08-2013 at 05:41 PM.
Apparently they can now run their teams right down the middle of the streets in Boston tonight. But I'm sure the weather is better where they are.
We've had a bad season - little to no snow... this week's been the 1st big dump!
Brent Sass again!
First and second place are being contested between Allen Moore and Hugh Neff still, but not too far behind them in long distance race terms have been Jake Berkowitz, followed by Brent Sass. Although Jake was not in danger, he was having significant difficulty. Brent Sass again showed amazing sportsmanship (which has been out and out heroism in the past):
from the Fairbanks paper, the News-Miner:
MILE 101 STEESE HIGHWAY — The next winner of the Yukon Quest was well down the trail when Brent Sass and Jake Berkowitz arrived at the 101 Mile Yukon Quest checkpoint on Sunday, but nobody was interested in hearing about the leaders.
Instead, Sass and Berkowitz, the third- and fourth-place mushers in the Quest, riveted everyone in the packed little checkpoint cabin along the Steese Highway. They arrived just minutes apart, then sat down to give a good-natured retelling of the latest dramatic tale from atop Eagle Summit.
“Eagle Summit tried to claim another one, but we didn’t let ’em,” Sass said with a smile after arriving at 101 Mile.
Together, Berkowitz and Sass salvaged a difficult episode atop the summit, when Berkowitz’s team stalled while climbing to the top.
Although the Big Lake musher was Quest rookie of the year in 2012, he’d never done the strenuous east-to-west climb before.
“There was nothing like Eagle Summit,” Berkowitz said. “I don’t think I appreciated it last year.”
Facing waist-deep snow drifts, no discernible trail and an unbelievably steep grade, he said his dogs were overwhelmed.
“This was just something that was completely out of their wheelhouse,” Berkowitz said.
After he realized his team wouldn’t budge, Berkowitz dumped his sled, scattering his gear along the trail. With his dogs parked at the top, he hoisted his empty sled up a few feet at a time, an effort he said was like “hauling treasure up from the bottom of the ocean.”
“It felt like an eternity out there,” he said.
When Sass arrived, he came across a familiar scene of a musher in distress. Eagle Summit assists are nothing new to the Eureka musher, who has such a long list of rescues atop the peak that the Quest established an award for heroism in honor of his retired lead dog, Silver.
In 2006, Sass guided musher Randy Chappel to safety during a brutal storm, then helped Yuka Honda retrieve her team the following year. He also helped William Kleedehn scale Eagle Summit when the Yukon musher stalled on the peak in 2009.
His most dramatic moment came in 2011, when Sass rescued a hypothermic Hans Gatt off the summit in the middle of a storm, guiding their teams to safety.
“Immediately when I saw (Berkowitz), it was like, ‘Here we go again,’” Sass said.
Both Sass and Berkowitz agreed that Sunday’s episode was no rescue, just an example of sportsmanship to a musher in the midst of an awful stretch.
Moving to the front of his own team, Sass was able to march up the Summit and passed Berkowitz with few problems.
“Brent’s team was pretty incredible,” Berkowitz said.
With his team parked on the summit, Sass walked back down the peak to help Berkowitz reload his sled. Then, with Berkowitz pushing from behind and Sass pulling from the front, the team made it to the summit.
Although Silver is retired back at home, Sass said two of his pups on the team are carrying on his spirit.
There are videos of the incident showing Brent leading Jake's team. Since neither Jake nor his team were in actual danger, just losing time!, none of the onlookers could help or Jake might have faced penalty or disqualification. Outside assistance is not allowed, but mushers can help one another.
That's wonderful to read about!
One year they're going to have to give Brent Sass an honorary first prize because the way things seem to be going, he'll never make it to the finish line nonstop. He sounds like such a great guy, and I'm glad Silver's offspring are there with him.
Brent's a great guy. Love him.
Also love Allen Moore. His wife Aliy Zirkle nearly beat Dallas for the Iditarod win last year. She totally gives off a Susan Butcher vibe.
Hugh Neff is another awesome musher. He posted something about running in Norway instead of the Iditarod. If that's the case it will feel very odd without him.