Kinvig continues to make Games history

Every result Yukon musher Rachel Kinvig produces this week is going straight into the Arctic Winter Games record books. So far the junior musher has kept intact an unbelievable winning streak now spanning three Arctic Games.

Every result Yukon musher Rachel Kinvig produces this week is going straight into the Arctic Winter Games record books.

So far the junior musher has kept intact an unbelievable winning streak now spanning three Arctic Games.

The 15-year-old came into the Games as the most decorated musher in Games history, having never lost a race in two previous Arctic Games and winning six gold medals. After two races this week on the Mount Lorne trails, she now has gold ulus seven and eight.

“I’m pretty happy about it, pretty proud of all my dogs, and I’m happy that all my hard work is paying off,” she said.

Kinvig raced to gold in the six-dog, 10-kilometre event, crossing the finish line in 14 minutes, 27.87 seconds on Tuesday.

She then won gold in Wednesday’s seven-dog, 13-kilometre race with a time of 23:06.3.

Both wins came with a little bit of breathing room. On Tuesday she came in 23 seconds ahead of silver medalist Nathaniel Stitt, of Alaska. She then defeated Stitt, again the silver winner, by about 18 seconds on Wednesday.

The 13-kilometre race is a little more significant for Kinvig, being a relatively new distance for her.

“I haven’t done much longer distances throughout the years,” said Kinvig. “This is my first year doing eight miles (13 kilometres) with seven dogs. So I was pretty happy we came first in that one because in Anchorage we didn’t.”

Yukon teammate Kat Atmanspacher-Wirth also has a pair of medals after two races.

Competing in the juvenile division in her first Arctic Games, the 12-year-old won gold in Tuesday’s four-dog, 7.5-kilometre race, just six seconds ahead of the silver medalist A.J. Charlie from N.W.T.

She then raced to bronze in Wednesday’s five-dog, 10-kilometre race, behind Alaska’s Charlie McNeill and A.J. Charlie.

Capturing gold in her first Arctic Games race was unexpected, she said.

“I’m really excited,” said Atmanspacher-Wirth. “It was unexpected to win gold the first day. Bronze on the second day was really good too.

“The dogs were really great, there weren’t any tangles or anything like that.”

Atmanspacher-Wirth’s sled dog team is made up of dogs from Kinvig’s kennel since her own team was getting a little old for the races.

“(Wednesday’s) race was long and one of my dogs got tired towards the end, so he started quitting,” said Atmanspacher-Wirth. “Other than that (the races) were both good.”

Both Yukon mushers had recently competed at the Junior World Championship in Anchorage, Alaska.

After the combined time of three races, spanning 24.3 miles, Kinvig finished in second place, just one second behind Anchorage’s Alea Robinson in the seven-dog, 8.1 mile class. Robinson, who is also racing at the Arctic Games this week, won bronze both days in the junior division behind Kinvig.

Atmanspacher-Wirth took fourth in the five-dog, 5.8 mile class. It was her first time competing at the junior worlds.

Kinvig won her division at the junior world championships the previous year in Anchorage, setting a course record on the championship’s Tozier Track, which remained intact after last month’s championship.

Kinvig and Atmanspacher-Wirth will be teaming up in hopes of adding one more finish into the Games’ record book in the team event on Friday. The race starts at 10 a.m.

“I’m excited because I think we’ll probably do well – she also got a gold,” said Kinvig of Atmanspacher-Wirth.

Contact Tom Patrick at

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