Kinvig captures Alaska’s junior Triple Crown

It's been quite a season for Whitehorse junior musher Rachel Kinvig.

It’s been quite a season for Whitehorse junior musher Rachel Kinvig.

The 14-year-old musher just won the Tok Junior Race of Champions, and the junior equivalent of Alaska’s Triple Crown after previous wins at the junior world and North American championships earlier this year.

“It was kind of a surprise,” said Kinvig, of her season. “The last couple years I’ve been having trouble with my dogs, but during the summer I worked really hard with them, spent a lot of time with them. So we really have that great bond.”

Not only did Kinvig win in Tok, Alaska, she won both the four-dog and six-dog classes, beating out a few possible opponents for next year’s Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse.

“It was pretty warm out, the trail was kind of rough in some spots,” said Kinvig. “For my team, those runs are really great.

“I had this one dog, in the four-dog, in lead. In Fairbanks he would stop at some of the people because it was his first race in lead. This race in Tok he went straight by everybody and didn’t even look at them. I was so proud of him.”

At the Junior World Championship Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Kinvig won gold in the five-dog, six-mile class, registering the fastest time in each of the three races to win overall. In fact, to cap off the championship, Kinvig set a new course record in her final race, shaving 19 seconds off the previous record.

The following month at the Junior North American Championship in Fairbanks, Kinvig won gold in the four-dog and silver in the six-dog classes. The silver marks Kinvig’s only loss of the season.

“Having Rachel win all three major races in Alaska, that’s hard to do,” said father and coach Darren Kinvig, who traveled 17,000 kilometres over the season with his daughter. “Even as a coach, trying to coach her, it’s hard to go do three major ones like the worlds, the North Americans and the Tok Race of Champions, it’s really hard to do, even in a junior event.”

Having started racing at the age of just six, Kinvig is no stranger to big competitions – or winning them. In fact, Rachel has never lost a race over two appearances at the Arctic Winter Games, becoming the most decorated musher in the Games’ history with six golds.

“Arctic Winter Games – I get to go for three gold again,” said Kinvig. “That would be sweet.”

Last year, Rachel was awarded the Junior Alaskan Sled Dog and Racing Association’s Sportsmanship Award. In 2009, she took first place in the four-dog class at the Junior North American Championships.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com