Mushers come out for game of chance

The Reach for the Sky and Take the Beer event held Sunday is more about luck than speed. Starting at Icy Waters fish farm on Fish Lake Road, the 19…

The Reach for the Sky and Take the Beer event held Sunday is more about luck than speed.

Starting at Icy Waters fish farm on Fish Lake Road, the 19 mushers and their dog teams (there were 14 last year) took off on a route that brought them up and around Mount McIntyre and back again.

They collected playing cards at six different stations.

Unlike most dog-sled events, the winner was not the first over the finish line, but the one to return with the best poker hand.

“It’s the luck of the cards,” said event organizer Jonathan Lucas. “That’s what we like about it because we have four-dog teams racing against 12-dog teams. And your abilities don’t matter either, just as long as you can stay on the course and finish in four hours.”

Sliding in with a full house of nines and sixes was Will Van Randen, taking first. Kyla Boivin, with an ace-high straight, came second followed by Laura Jane Lucas with a 10-high straight.

“It adds a little bit of spice in there,” said Ed Hopkins, who completed the course first in a time of one hour 43 minutes. “My dogs made it around the course pretty quick, but it wasn’t the fast time that won.

“Actually, to be quite honest with you, the fastest time won — I had the fastest team out there today,” he added as he reconsidered things.

The 37-kilometre course required teams to climb 600 metres in altitude over the first 20 kilometres. At that point, mushers were given a beer to enjoy as they began their descent, hence the name of the event.

“It’s a good, hilly course,” said Hopkins. “There were really nice trails and it was a really nice day for a dog-race today.”

Although competing to win, according to Lucas many mushers view the race and other Copper Haul Twister League races as practice for bigger events.

“They’re fun,” said Lucas. “People can make mistakes in these races so when they get to serious races they don’t make mistakes.”

The festivities included a first mate freight pull, in which lone dogs competed to see which could pull the heaviest sled a little less than five metres in a minute.

For the third straight year, a rottweiler named Asha took the crown, pulling 218 kilograms to beat out the four other canine competitors.

“She gets really low and just pulls,” said Lucas, Asha’s owner, describing his dog’s technique.

Although Asha looked strong enough too pull a train, she hesitated occasionally as if lacking motivation.

Lucas believes he knows the cause of the breaks in concentration.

“The way I train her is with treats, so she’s used to getting a treat after every pull,” said Lucas. “It’s a double-whammy because as the competition goes on longer the weights get heavier and it gets harder, and she’s pulled seven times and still hasn’t gotten a treat. So she’s like, ‘What’s going on?’”

All the contestants were awarded bags of dog food just for competing.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read