Yukon’s dog racing community has spoken: they like racing in Haines Junction and will welcome the return of the Silver Sled race next year.
A total of 24 teams raced in the 7.1-mile Sportsman and the 17.5-mile Chili Paw races on Saturday in Haines Junction.
The two races, which were held in conjunction with the 100-mile Silver Sled race up to its last running in 2007, mark the resurrection of the Silver Sled Race Committee that will host the Silver Sled race next season for the first time in seven years.
“Jim Stanford came from Mosquito Lake, Alaska. He’s been in every Silver Sled race there ever was and he was really excited that it’s going to be back for next year,” said race committee president Stephanie Routley. “I think people are coming out to show their support for bringing back the Silver Sled race.”
Saturday’s two races had a good balance of teams, with 12 in the Chili Paw and 12 in the Sportsman, starting and ending at the Bear Creek Lodge on the Alaska Highway at historic mile 1022.
“It was really nice. The trail was definitely fast, and it got a little hot for the second half, so that slowed us down quite a bit,” said Alexandra Rochat.
Rochat won her first race of the season with the fastest time in the Chili Paw. She finished in one hour, 22 minutes and 52 seconds, just 33 seconds up from second place’s Luc Tweddell. Adam Robinson, the only skijorer in the race, was third overall at 1:24:34.
“I would not have suspected it,” said Rochat, on hearing she won. “We were fast, but I know there are a lot of fast teams out there. So I was thinking someone would be ahead of us.”
Rochat, who is from the Annie Lake area, placed seventh out of 15 teams in the River Runner 120 at the end of last month.
She has been mushing for about four years.
“I’m really happy the Silver Sled race is coming back because I never attended it before, but I’ve only heard good things about it,” said Rochat. “I’m excited to run the 100-mile next year.”
Armin Johnson, of the Fox Lake area, topped the Sportsman race with a time of 29:03 for his first win of the season. Jess Wood (32:20) and Aaron Nicholson (37:08) placed second and third, respectively.
Amil Dupuis-Rossi was the top skijorer with a time of 37:59. Lori Tweddell, one of two junior racers, placed seventh, crossing the finish line at 43:04.
Johnson is the partner of Mandy Pearson, who has been dominating Yukon’s sprint mushing scene this season. She won the Babe Southwick Memorial Dog Race at the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, the 10-mile dogsled division at the Carbon Hill Sled Dog Race, and all three Twister races hosted by the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon.
Johnson has placed third in a number of those races behind his wife.
“Those were her dogs that I was running today – her team that she usually runs – so they are well-conditioned dogs,” said Johnson. “It was a fun trail. It was pretty tough because it’s a warm day and there was lots of passing … There was some interesting stuff. Everybody has an interesting story.”
“We would like to thank the volunteers – there were so many – for coming out and helping to revive this race,” he added.
The Silver Sled race ran for about a dozen years before 2008’s running was cancelled due to poor trail conditions.
The race, which includes skijor divisions, runs from Haines Junction to Silver City and back.
In addition to the Chili Paw and Sportsman races next year, the 100-mile Silver Sled race will include a 50-mile skijor division from Silver City to Haines Junction.
“I’m just really happy we had a good turnout today,” said Routley. “I’ve heard from people the trails are amazing and beautiful, even though it’s a bit warm. Everyone seems to be enjoying the trails and that’s great.
“It seems like it’s gone off without a hitch.”
1st Alexandra Rochat – 1:22:52
2nd Luc Tweddell – 1:23:25
3rd Adam Robinson (skijor) – 1:24:34
4th Karine Grenier – 1:27:16
5th Stephan Loehr – 1:29:21
6th Normand Cassavant – 1:30:10
7th Jim Stanford – 1:35:57
8th Rob Cooke – 1:40:51
9th Martin Haeflle – 1:41:22
10th Jacob Heigers – 1:46:12
11th Melissa Schenke – 1:47:02
12th Deb Knight – 1:50:13
1st Armin Johnson – 29:03
2nd Jess Wood – 32:20
3rd Aaron Nicholson – 37:08
4th Amil Dupuis-Rossi (skijor) – 37:59
5th Duncan Smith (skijor) – 39:04
6th Mathieu Devred – 39:36
7th Lori Tweddell (junior) – 43:04
8th Virginia Sarrazan (skijor) – 45:36
9th Sarah Best – 46:15
10th Simi Morrison – 50:14
11th Kris Smarch – 54:30
Louve Tweddell (junior) – scratched
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