Quest trail looking good for Saturday’s start

When 26 teams take off for Fairbanks on Saturday in the Yukon Quest, they will have some good trail conditions, says Michael Peterson, president of the race's board of directors on the Yukon side.

When 26 teams take off for Fairbanks on Saturday in the Yukon Quest, they will have some good trail conditions, says Michael Peterson, president of the race’s board of directors on the Yukon side.

Two weeks of sub-minus-20 temperatures and plenty of snow have the trail in good shape, he said Thursday.

“The cold helped, and what probably helped more than the cold was the snow,” said Peterson. “That Pineapple Express that kind of hit the west coast in B.C. with a huge dump of rain a couple week ago, that translated into snow here and really set things up well.

“There was glare ice, but that’s all been covered with snow and it’s made a pretty good trail all the way through.”

The event, which bills itself as the “1,000-mile international sled dog race,” could actually be that distance this year. That wasn’t the case the last two years.

In 2013 and 2014, the American Summit in Alaska was bypassed, cutting about 50 miles (80 kilometres) off the trail. Last year, due to thin ice on the Yukon River, the finish line was moved north of Whitehorse, shaving off another 30 miles (48 kilometres).

“The trail is a dynamic thing; from year to year there’s minor changes,” said Peterson. “One year it might be along the shore of a lake and it might move up into the trees a small amount.

“But generally there’s no change at all. And on the American side it’s over all the summits … In previous years it has bypassed some of them. It’s pretty much exactly the way it should be.”

This year’s field of mushers features four past champions, including two-time defending champ Allen Moore of Two Rivers, Alaska. The 57-year-old won the race the last two years and finished second in 2012.

“It’ll be exciting,” said Moore in a recent interview with the News. “You just never know what you’re going to get when you get to the Quest. They all are really good mushers, they have done well in the Iditarod and a lot of other races. You just have to be a little bit lucky in these races, not get dogs injured. If you keep your dogs healthy, you have a good chance at being up in the front, which I hope I am.”

2012 Quest champ Hugh Neff of Tok, Alaska will attempt to take back the crown after finishing as the runner-up behind Moore the last two years. This year’s race will be the 47-year-old’s 15th Yukon Quest.

Fairbanks, Alaska’s Lance Mackey will attempt to win a record fifth Quest. Mackey, 44, who is the first musher to win the Quest and Iditarod in the same year, has four of each title under his belt.

Jeff King from Denali Park, Alaska is making his first Quest run in 25 years. The 59-year-old won the race in 1989 and claimed second in 1986 and 1990.

This year’s Quest also has a strong Yukon contingent.

Tagish’s Ed Hopkins, 50, and Whitehorse’s Normand Casavant, 51, are both racing their fifth Quests. Hopkins placed eighth in 2005 for his best finish and Casavant, who scratched last year, placed seventh in 2013.

Dawson City’s Brian Wilmshurst, 32, is set for his fourth consecutive Quest. Wilmshurst placed 10th last year and was given the Sportsmanship Award.

Whitehorse’s Rob Cooke, 48, will ride in his second Quest after placing 18th in 2013 and Mount Lorne’s Tamra Reynolds, 42, is one of 11 rookies in this year’s race.

Teams will begin leaving the start line in three-minute intervals at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Shipyards Park in downtown Whitehorse.

The frontrunners are expected to reach Dawson City – the race’s halfway point – around Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

Contact Tom Patrick at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

City of Whitehorse staff will report back to city council members in three months, detailing where efforts are with the city’s wildfire risk reduction strategy and action plan for 2021 to 2024. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council adopts wildfire risk reduction plan

Staff will report on progress in three months


Wyatt’s World for Nov. 25, 2020

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read