Yukon’s Willomitzer mushes to seventh in Wyoming stage race

Almost two decades ago Yukon's Gerry Willomitzer travelled to Wyoming to be a handler at his first dog sled race. Nineteen years later he returned as a musher.

Almost two decades ago Yukon’s Gerry Willomitzer travelled to Wyoming to be a handler at his first dog sled race. Nineteen years later he returned as a musher.

Willomitzer, of Shallow Bay, placed seventh at the Eukanuba Stage Stop Sled Dog Race in Wyoming on Saturday.

“It was exciting. I had been down there before, 19 years ago, as a handler for somebody else so I knew the basic race format,” said Willomitzer. “Seventh place is well within my expectations. I could be anywhere within fifth and 10th and fifth would have been exceptional.

“I’m competing against an entirely different type of dog team down there. I went down there with dogs I bred for distance racing. The mushers down there have a different dog, they have more of a pointer cross that’s more built for speed. So I think we did pretty good.”

The eight-stage eight-dog Eukanuba race is considered one of the biggest sled dog races in the Lower 48. It has a similar format as the Tour de France cycling race in that each day there is a stage at a different location.

It began in Jackson Hole on Jan. 29 and finished in Uinta County on Saturday, with most of the stages around 70 kilometres in length, give or take.

Willomitzer completed the combined 520-kilometre race with a cumulative time of 27 hours, 11 minutes and three seconds.

The Yukon Quest and Iditarod veteran began with his best finish, placing second out of the 13 teams on the first stage, finishing the 51.5 kilometres in 3:07:38.

“I don’t know how that happened,” said Willomitzer. “I was just running the way I usually run and the way I trained for. But it snowed about a foot over night and I think some of the competitors were really holding back. Those sprint dogs aren’t built for really tough trails, deep snow and trail breaking. So that may have gone in our favour a little bit.”

Willomitzer, who is a past champion in Dawson City’s Percy DeWolfe and the Yukon Quest 300, also placed fifth on stage two, seventh on stage five and eighth on stage four.

Fort Nelson, B.C.‘s Buddy Streeper, a multi-time sprint world champ, won his seventh Eukanuba with a cumulative time of 24:34:30. Denmark’s Alex Stegmann placed second.

The Eukanuba – formerly the Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race – has seen a Yukon champ a number of times in its 21 years. Yukon’s Hans Gatt won the race four times in five years between 1997 and 2001.

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

Yukon artist’s work featured in national exhibit

Nicole Favron named as Yukon winner for 2020 BMO Art! competition

Higher camping fees, new campground, reconciliation efforts feature in Yukon parks 10-year strategy

Creating a new campground within two hours of Whitehorse, introducing higher camping… Continue reading

UPDATED: Driver in alleged Whitehorse gun-pointing incident arrested

Christopher Dick, 24, charged with obstructing a peace officer, failing to comply with release order

YG and pharmacies preparing for flu vaccine distribution

The Yukon government is preparing for flu season and encouraging people to… Continue reading

Non-resident tests positive for COVID-19

The individual has been hospitalized in Whitehorse

Hot Hounds bikejor race serves as lone summer competition

Held in Mount Lorne, the race was organized by the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon

Whitehorse operations building officially open

Staff are taking phased approach to moving in

North of Ordinary Experience Centre shutting down

COVID-19 has caused bookings for the space to become almost non-existent, owner says

Canada Games Centre could get new playground

Council to vote on contract award

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Harescramble brings out motorcycle community

This year’s event included 67 riders

YG seeks members for youth climate change panel

“Yukon youth deserve to have their voices heard”

Yukon NDP hold AGM

This year’s meeting was held virtually

Most Read