Katherine Scheck and her team race down the trail during the 2019 Silver Sled dog sled race on March 2 in Haines Junction. Scheck won the race with a two-day combined time of six hours, 44 minutes and 54 seconds. (Iris Flibotte/Yukon News)

Fast trails and blue skies for Silver Sled dog sled race

“The weather was exceptionally beautiful — there wasn’t a cloud in the sky”

The biennial Silver Sled 100-mile (160-kilometre) dog sled race was March 2 and 3 from Haines Junction to Silver City and back.

As a stage race, mushers raced to Silver City on day one and camped at the Kluane Lake Research Station before racing back to Haines Junction on day two.

Katherine Scheck won this year’s race with a combined time of six hours, 44 minutes and 54 seconds.

Second spot went to Alexandra Rochat who finished in seven hours, one minute and 53 seconds with Crispin Studer hot on her heels in third with a time of seven hours, two minutes and five seconds.

A total of 17 mushers started the race, including two Alaskans, with a maximum of 10 dogs and a minimum of eight.

Hans Oettli, race marshal and board member of the Silver Sled Race Committee, said conditions came together well for the race.

“The weather was exceptionally beautiful — there wasn’t a cloud in the sky,” said Oettli, noting temperatures were slightly warmer than would be considered ideal.

“It was a little bit warm on the first day going out in the later morning,” said Oettli. “The temperatures warmed up to probably about -5 C and if you were running in the sunshine, it was probably somewhat warmer. On the second day, the start was excellent – we actually started a half an hour earlier than we usually do for the purpose of running in colder temperatures.”

He said it was around -22 C at the start of day two, but had again warmed to -5 C by the time mushers reached Haines Junction.

Like all the other dog sled races this winter, the Silver Sled was negatively impacted by a general lack of snow in the area. However, Oettli said the trail was “really, really good” and that it was packed down nicely to make for a fast trail.

“It was hard — very hard actually — because of the lack of snow,” said Oettli. “There were a couple of spots with ice and overflow, but we rerouted the trail around it.”

Although the race is open to both mushers and skijorers, this year’s field was all dog sled teams.

“Katherine Scheck used to be a skijorer and she was always the fastest one,” said Oettli with a chuckle. “She turned into a musher and she won.”

Oettli said the board is largely made up of new members, albeit ones with experience with the race, and that it was a bit of a scramble to get things in order once the board determined there was sufficient snow to hold the race.

“At the last minute, finally we were finally able to announce that we do have a race because we weren’t really sure if there was enough snow out there,” said Oettli. “Getting things organized (was) pretty well in the last two or three weeks. (It) was kind of a rough attempt for all of us. … We were actually very happy with 17 entries.”

The race used to overnight in Silver City, but in recent years has been using the Kluane Lake Research Station.

“They went totally out of their way to help us out and it was so pleasant to be out there,” said Oettli. “It was absolutely outstanding and they want us back next year, so that’s already very encouraging.”

The Silver Sled website explains that to keep the event sustainable, the race alternates each year with a shorter one-day Chili Paw race.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

2019 Silver Sled results

1 Katherine Scheck 6:44:54

2 Alexandra Rochat 7:01:53

3 Crispin Studer 7:02:05

4 Luc Tweddel 7:25:58

5 Magnus Kaltenborn 7:41:06

6 Deke Naaktgeboren 7:55:08

7 Claudia Beer 8:02:47

8 Jonathan Lucas 8:04:15

9 Claudia Wickert 8:30:00

10 Louve Tweddell 8:34:48

11 Melissa Schenke 8:37:18

12 Nick Helfinger 9:04:35

13 Matthew McHugh 9:49:44

14 Krys March 11:01:14

15 Courtney Persson 12:03:08

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Alexandra Rochat and her team finished second in the 2019 Silver Sled. (Iris Flibotte/Yukon News)

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