Yukoner takes top prize in Alcan 200

With speeds exceeding 240 kilometres an hour, the Alcan 200 Road Rally snowmobile race is not for the timid. But with minus 30 temperatures and strong crosswinds, the 43rd annual running of the event on Saturday called for particularly hardy sledders.

With speeds exceeding 240 kilometres an hour, the Alcan 200 Road Rally snowmobile race is not for the timid. But with minus 30 temperatures and strong crosswinds, the 43rd annual running of the event on Saturday called for particularly hardy sledders.

“There was quite a bit of frostbite with some of the racers there,” said Whitehorse’s Jarrid Davy, who got frostbite on his left hand. “One guy – I was going to give the guys from Fairbanks a call (to find out) – is going to lose two fingers, I’m guessing.”

While Alaskans made up the smaller-than-usual field of 25 sledders – with only 13 finishing – Davy was the day’s big winner. Not only did he finish first in the 651cc-open class, Davy produced the fastest time on the day, finishing in one hour, 33 minutes and 28 seconds. (Finishing second overall was Haines, Alaska’s, Chris Brooks in the 651cc-open class and in third was Fairbanks’ Greg Peede, who was fastest in the 551cc-650cc class.)

“I don’t know what the wind-chill was, but it’s 30-below and you’re doing 120 miles and hour, so it’s pretty severe,” said Davy. “There were times I was down to 45 miles an hour, in the crosswinds, then there were times I was getting up to 150 miles an hour.”

Averaging a speed of 160.1 kilometres an hour, which includes four mandatory fuel stops, Davy rode the snowmobile of Jason Adams, the manager/owner of Yukon Yamaha, who finished second overall last year.

“It was the only four-stroke in the race, and it’s turbo charged with 260 horse power, and it runs flawlessly,” said Davy. “That’s the great thing about it – an electric start – you just turn the key and go.”

Whitehorse’s Ross King was another Yukoner to reach the podium, taking second in the 441-550cc liquid class.

The race didn’t just mark his first Alcan in more than a decade, it marked his first encounter with frostbite, getting it on his nose, under his eyes and on the tips of his thumbs.

“The conditions were the worst I’ve ever seen in the years I’ve either raced in it or went to watch it,” said King. “It’s the first time I’ve ever got frostbite.”

Racing in his first ever Alcan, Whitehorse’s Dale Panchyshyn not only got through the race frostbite free, he took second in the 0-440cc liquid class.

“There wasn’t much you could do for it, it was so cold,” said Panchyshyn. “It was 30 below – plus we were trying to drive at 100 miles an hour. I don’t have any clothes that would have kept it right out, but I didn’t get frostbite thankfully.”

The race, which goes from the Canadian-US border near Haines, Alaska, 125 kilometres to the Dezadeash Lodge south of Haines Junction and back, presented some other challenges for the sledders and their teams.

While cold was in abundance, ironically, snow was not, impairing turning ability and putting additional wear and tear on the snowmobiles.

“The major problem with the race this year was there was no snow,” said Davy. “It was just about dry asphalt for 90 per cent of the race. It’s hard to steer; the ski uses a carbide runner to dig into the ice to help you turn, so they don’t do anything on asphalt.

“And there were a lot crosswinds at the same time, so it was very difficult to steer – especially up at the summit. I think a lot of people got blown right off the road.”

The Alcan race received more coverage than usual in 2009 when the race experienced its first fatality. Fairbank’s Jeffrey Peede, the brother of Saturday’s third-overall finisher, Greg Peede, died instantly early in the race when his snowmobile collided with a guardrail on the Three Guardsman Pass.

While the dangers of the race are never off the minds of the sledders, some areas seemed more perilous than others. Along Haines Summit, there are rows of vertical pipes in areas used

to guide snowplows after heavy downfalls. A collision with one would not end well for the sledder.

“These posts stick up vertically every hundred feet where there’s a chance the snow might be deep,” said Panchyshyn. “The faster you go, the faster those posts go by you. If you’re going fast enough and the wind tries to blow you off the road, there’s no way you’re going to miss one; you couldn’t steer quick enough to get in between.

“When I was done, that was as alive as I had felt in many years. It required your full attention.”

Because of the conditions – temperature, wind and snow coverage – no course records were broken in the race. In fact, two divisions only had lone finishers. In the 0-440cc fan class, Whitehorse’s Mario Poulin was the only of three riders to reach the finish line, in the process taking first.

“I’d like to tip my hat to all the mechanics and all the people who went to the halfway (point),” said Davy. “Those mechanics – I don’t know the exact temperature – were working out in minus-28 and they’re out there working in bare hands.

“So a lot of the credit goes to the teams and the mechanics that were wrenching for us.”

RESULTS:

651cc-open class

1st Jarrid Davy (Whitehorse)

2nd Chris Brooks (Haines)

3rd Danny Stenvik (Fairbanks)

551-650cc liquid class

1st Greg Peede (Fairbanks)

2nd Jack Smith Jr. (Haines)

3rd Randy Martin (Fairbanks)

441-550cc liquid class

1st Ron Stuvek (Fairbanks)

2nd Ross King (Whitehorse)

3rd Brian Stuvek (Fairbanks)

0-440cc liquid class

1st Paul Keech (Fairbanks)

2nd Dale Panchysuyn

(Whitehorse)

3rd Gene Bloom (Fairbanks)

441-550cc fan class

1st John Martin (North Pole)

(No other finishers)

0-440cc fan class

1st Mario Poulin (Whitehorse)

(No other finishers)

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

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read