Willomitzer team rides to first in Mount Lorne Christmas Classic

The Mount Lorne Christmas Classic was a new sled dog race and a chance to try out new pups in a distance event.

The Mount Lorne Christmas Classic was a new sled dog race and a chance to try out new pups in a distance event.

Gerry Willomitzer of Shallow Bay, Yukon, did just that. He, on the other hand, didn’t feel like a pup in the race.

“This may have been the first race in which I was the oldest musher,” said the 46-year-old with chuckle.

Willomitzer’s “pup run” in the two-day stage race worked out, placing first out of nine teams. He finished the race from Mount Lorne Community Centre to Annie Lake, around the lake, and back in six hours and 30 minutes.

The Yukon Quest and Iditarod veteran completed the first 69-kilometres in 3:13 on Saturday and was four minutes slower on the way back on Sunday.

“I could have been faster today,” he said. “I use these types of races to experiment a little and try out some young dogs. Today I had a young dog that got tired, so I loaded him up after 25 miles. So that cost me a little bit of time at the end. But all and all it was really good, really enjoyable.”

Whitehorse’s Marine Gastard placed second at 6:49 and Whitehorse’s Magnus Kaltenborn third at 6:50. Rounding out the top five were Alex Rochet at 7:20 and Matthew Rydholm at 7:26.

The Christmas Classic, which was postponed a couple weeks due to a paucity of snow, was a stripped down race with no bells and whistles – no award ceremony or post-race dinner. It was an independent event put on by mushers, for mushers.

“It’s a prep race to go in the longer races, a way to get young dogs in the races before going to a 300-mile or something,” said Maren Bradley, one of the race organizers. “So like (eighth place’s) Sebastien

(Dos Santos Borges) is running the Copper Basin next weekend and will be in the Yukon Quest as well. So he’s using this race to see how his dogs behave in a race and to get the passing practice that you don’t get in training.”

Willomitzer and his team are currently preparing for the biggest race in the Lower 48. They will represent Yukon at the seven-day seven-stage Eukanuba Stage Stop Sled Dog Race in Wyoming beginning in Jackson Hole on Jan. 29.

“We’re doing something really different this year, racing a big stage race in Wyoming, so (the Christmas Classic) is the perfect tune-up for that in terms of distance and the speed you run,” said Willomitzer.

“The (Wyoming) race has been going on for 20 years … I handled for (Yukon musher) William Kleedehn in that race in 1997, so this is a bit of a trip down memory lane … That was the first big race I ever went to as a handler. Nineteen years later I’m going back to race it.”

The Christmas Classic was held on many of the same trails that will be used at the 22nd annual Carbon Hill Sled Dog Race, a Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon event, on Jan. 17.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Site selection for battery project draws ire of nearby landowners

Yukon Energy is accepting public comments on three possible sites for the project

Taking a closer look at the cosmos

Star gazing party scheduled for Sept. 18

Former Yukon U president takes new job following resignation

Vice President University Services Maggie Matear has been appointed as interim president

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Sept. 18, 2020

Arrest made in 2019 Ross River murder

Phillip Atkinson, 63, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mary Ann Ollie

Baggage screening changes begin

Passengers are asked to arrive earlier than normal in order to accommodate the new temporary system

Yukon Government extends education review

The final report is scheduled for release in March 2021

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Lawsuit against Freedom Trails settled

The suit was dismissed with consent of all parties

Tank farm takes another step towards development

OCP designation passes second reading

Climate change strategy targets 30 per cent reduction in territory greenhouse gases by 2030

The strategy includes rebates for electric vehicles but puts off mining targets for two years

Watson Lake to hold mayoral byelection

Residents of Watson Lake will elect a new mayor on Oct. 8.… Continue reading

Teslin Tlingit Council elects chief, deputy chief

Teslin Tlingit Council citizens have elected Eric Morris as the new Naa Sháade Háni

Most Read