Alaska’s Matt Hall takes lead in Yukon Quest

As of early afternoon Feb. 6, all three past champs competing in this year’s Yukon Quest went from tied for first to tied for second as Matt Hall flew through Stepping Stone — a hospitality stop with no mandatory rest time — to jump from fifth to first place in the 34th annual race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks.

Matt Hall named his kennel Smokin’ Ace because he likes to play poker. It would seem the musher from Two Rivers, Alaska, also gambles while on the trail.

As of early afternoon Feb. 6, all three past champs competing in this year’s Yukon Quest went from tied for first to tied for second as Hall flew through Stepping Stone — a hospitality stop with no mandatory rest time — to jump from fifth to first place in the 34th annual race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks.

Defending champ Hugh Neff of Tok, Alaska, was the first to Stepping Stone just before 9 a.m., leading 2015 champion Brent Sass of Eureka, Alaska, by a few minutes. Allen Moore, also of Two Rivers, and who won the race in 2013 and 2014, got there two and half hours later with a small lead over rookie Katherine Keith of Kotzebue, Alaska.

Hall skipped an opportunity to rest and took the lead just before 1 p.m. while the other four opted to stay in Stepping Stone — about 437 kilometres into the 1,600-kilometre journey.

Hall, 25, placed fourth in last year’s Quest and third in 2014.

Neff, who also won the Quest in 2012, took the lead after Braeburn and held it through Carmacks and Pelly Crossing. The 49-year-old was the first out of Pelly Crossing Sunday morning at 3:33 a.m., about an hour ahead of Sass.

At 2 p.m. on Monday, 10 Mile’s Ed Hopkins was the top Yukoner and Canadian in sixth place about 13 kilometres from Stepping Stone. Brian Wilmshurst of Dawson City was in ninth.

Hopkins’ partner Michelle Phillips looks poised to take her third Yukon Quest 300 title. At press time on Monday, Phillips left Pelly Crossing with a two-hour lead on 2014 champ Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers.

Phillips, who won the race the last two times it started in Whitehorse, will need to hold the lead to Stepping Stone and back to Pelly for the win. She beat Zirkle by just eight seconds to win her 2013 title.

Whitehorse’s Nathaniel Hamlyn, who is racing in his first Quest 300, was in third Monday afternoon.

Though the Quest 1,000 hasn’t seen a scratch yet, the 300 race has had a few. Whitehorse mushers Susie Rogan and Melissa Schenke, Dawson City’s Kyla Boivin, Anchorage’s Scott Janssen and Two Rivers’ Chase Tingle have all dropped out.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

City of Whitehorse tells taxi passengers who feel unsafe to not travel alone

Suggestion criticized by advocates for placing burden of safety on passengers, not taxi companies

Whitehorse’s new emergency room slated to open in early January

40,000-square-foot building will be more efficient, officials say

Judge finds Whitehorse man not guilty of raping teen in 2015 after second trial

Judge Raymond Wyant found Jackie James Kodwat not guilty of sexual assault.

Whitehorse’s sidewalks are a deathtrap

In the interest of safety and simplicity, the city should just plow the sidewalks

Police, coroner investigating suspicious death in Pelly Crossing

Investigators have ordered an autopsy, which will take place in Vancouver Dec. 18

Two Yukon projects shortlisted for the Arctic Inspiration Prize

Projects from Whitehorse, Carcross up for cash

Lower Post, B.C., man suing Yukon RCMP over assault allegation

Suit alleges man ended up with ‘ended up with bruising on his arms, biceps and chest’

Yukon needs a better plan for long-term care

The government can find solutions if it has the will. Does it have the will?

Hard travel over the Yukon’s winter trails

The overland trip to Dawson City today is a cakewalk compared to a century ago

Globalization infiltrates the Yukon’s recycling bins

You’re going to have to do a better job sorting your junk or else China won’t take it

Driving during the holidays

It’s hectic on the roads at Christmastime

Whitehorse council chambers needs new audio-visual equipment

‘More than 10 people’ watch city’s televised meetings

Most Read