Shut out

It would have been interesting to hear how William Kleedehn managed to sneak past Jon Little a kilometre away from Dawson and win the gold. We'd love to tell you about it. But the Carcross musher was off limit...

DAWSON CITY

It would have been interesting to hear how William Kleedehn managed to sneak past Jon Little a kilometre away from Dawson and win the gold.

We’d love to tell you about it.

But the Carcross musher was off limits.

The cluster of media, including newspapers from Alaska, CBC TV, National Public Radio, a well-known author and photographers from around the world were all cordoned off behind an orange sawhorse barrier.

The restricted access is new.

In past years, media have tossed questions to mushers as they checked in, before they started their team again and headed across the ice bridge to Dawson City’s campground.

It worked well.

So the Quest changed it.

Now, after checking in, the musher would be expected to guide their strings of 12 to 14 campground-yearning dogs up to where the media were contained.

It didn’t happen.

Kleedehn, once his team was moving towards the campground, didn’t want to stop them again.

And that makes sense.

After a long run, Kleedehn wanted to get warm food in their bellies and bed them down in the straw that was waiting for them at the campground.

A few of us chased him down the road, and managed to get a few quick quotes before he disappeared into the night. (See story on the opposite page.)

We chased Jon Little too, but he didn’t stop.

There was a moment of silence.

We were all thinking about the story we had to tell – Kleedehn wins the gold É

Then what?

How did he catch Jon?

What was he thinking as he snuck up to him on the river?

Was the pinched nerve in his back bugging him?

What was he going to do with that four-ounces of gold?

Was he happy, or just tired?

It would have been nice to recognize the local musher who, with only one leg, is up against some strong odds.

It didn’t happen.

Frustrated and disappointed a few of us approached Brian Webb, the media relations guy who’d herded us away from the mushers with his arms outstretched.

“If they wanted to talk to you, they would have stopped,” said Webb.

“It’s not my decision, it’s the race marshal’s,” he added.

The marshal, Doug Grilliot, came out to field questions.

“We decided to give them some more privacy at the check-in,” he said.

Why? Had there been complaints?

“Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking,” said Grilliot.

“We’ve invited the mushers to talk to the media,” he said.

And did he tell Kleedehn we wanted to talk to him tonight?

“No,” said Grilliot.

Sleep deprived, Kleedehn had no idea why we weren’t there to congratulate him and shower him with questions, as has been the practice in the past.

“It’s not my decision, it’s the organization’s,” said Grilliot, sloughing off blame.

When Neff came in, the Quest decided they would stop him twice, once to check in and once to talk to us.

We got an interview.

But it was confusing for the dogs. They didn’t know why they were stopping after just a few metres, when warm straw was waiting across the river.

Less than an hour later, Webb approached us.

They were “working out the kinks,” he said.

Next time, if the musher was willing to talk to the media, we would be brought in while the musher was checking in.

“It’s a pathetic operation,” said an American journalist.

“I’m going to tell everyone not to come cover this race because they make it impossible to cover.

“I’m going to bed.”

It’s definitely not the same as it was in 2001, said the Koopmans, a couple of tourists who’d driven up from Calgary to follow the race to Dawson.

“In ‘01 we were able to walk through the dog yards and we even had a video camera over the shoulder of a vet watching them do surgery,” said Henry Koopman.

“Now we can’t even get close,” he said.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

See more stories and photos pages

36 to 39.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read