Twister race sees three peat win, biggest turnout

The Northern Tales Aurora Twister, held in the Golden Horn area, featured a winding trail with dips and hills and minus 25 temperatures to boot.

Cornering skills were put to the test at this season’s third installment of the Yukon Brewing Twister Race Series on Sunday.

The Northern Tales Aurora Twister, held in the Golden Horn area, featured a winding trail with dips and hills and minus 25 temperatures to boot.

However, none of that prevented the largest turnout so far for this season’s Twister series. Twenty-two sled and skijor teams took part in the 11-mile races, with an additional three in the kids and recreational classes.

Plagued by tangles, Tagish’s Dave Johnson was surprised to learn he won the sled division.

“Everyone else must have had more trouble than I did,” said Johnson.

It was Johnson’s third straight win in the Twister series, in addition to winning the 10-mile Carbon Hill Sled Dog Race in record time earlier this month.

“I think this one was way more challenging,” said Johnson. “The trail was pretty challenging. Lots of 90 degree corners and good gullies there. And 21 head-on passes too. It was definitely an interesting race.”

Making matters more difficult, Johnson often came across teams heading in the other direction at corners.

“Some of these corners are pretty blind, so you couldn’t see anybody coming until the last minute. By then it’s too late,” said Johnson. “By the time you put the brake on, you’re already halfway through the next team.

“In 10 years I don’t think I’ve had as many tangles as today,” he added, laughing.

Taking second and third were Marie Eli and Charles Villeneuve, both from Inuvik. They were using the event as preparation for sprints races in Alaska.

Other notable finishes include Armin Johnson. He came second in the first two Twister races and this time took fifth. Katharina Atmanspacher, who will represent the Yukon in mushing at the Arctic Winter Games, finished ninth in her first Twister race in the adult category.

In the skijor division, Stefan Wackerhagen won his second Twister race of the season, after finishing in third in December. Wackerhagen was also a winner – and record setter – at the Carbon Hill race.

He had a smoother go of it than Dave Johnson, he said.

“I didn’t have trouble,” said Wackerhagen. “There was one interesting moment where the in-coming and out-going trails were close together and there was somebody coming down the hill. My dogs decided it would be nicer to jump over and go up the hill the way that we came down.”

Claudia Wickert, who finished last in the first two races, moved all the way up to second. Cynthia Corriveau, the second place finisher in the season opener, slipped to third.

In the three-mile recreation class, Amil Dupuis-Rossi took first ahead of Virginia Sarrazin.

Alone in the three-mile kids’ division, Seth Carey came in at 15 minutes, 22 seconds. Carey finished second in the kids’ class at the Carbon Hill race and won it in 2011.

Sunday’s race took place on the property of Hans Gatt and Susan Rogan. Gatt, a four-time Yukon Quest winner, had arrived back from vacation two days before the race and rushed to prepare the trails in time. But the reviews were good.


“Hans just put in the trail in the last day or two and he did an awesome job,” said Johnson. “There were a couple of soft spots, where your team slowed down a little bit, but most of it was really nice. He did an awesome job marking it. You could tell that he’s an old Quest and Iditarod musher by the marking. Everything was perfect.”



1st Stefan Wackerhagen – 48:14

2nd Claudia Wickert – 50:02

3rd Cynthia Corriveau – 51:33

4th Barb Anderson – 55:46

5th Susan Rogan – 56:12

6th Adam Robinson – 57:36

7th Gaetan Pierrard – 58:10

8th Sam Penner – 1:01:07

9th Amil Dupuis-Rossi – 1:04:32


1st David Johnson – 42:10

2nd Marie Elie – 43:17

3rd Charles Villeneuve – 44:45

4th Petra Bachhuber – 47:00

5th Armin Johnson – 47:25

6th Tony Radford – 48:40

7th Meagan Grabowsky – 53:01

7th Marine Gastard – 53:01

9th Katharina Atmanspacher – 59:38

10th Christel Bartczak – 1:02:03

11th Christina Reeves – 1:09:12

12th Rhonda Kotelko – 1:10:16

13th Nadine Kafka-Kotelko – 1:19:58


1st Seth Carey – 15:22


1st Amil Dupuis-Rossi – 17:58

2nd Virginia Sarrazin – 19:34

Contact Tom Patrick at

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