Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 8, 2013

Pearson mushes dogs to second straight series win

A massive turnout at the Yukon Brewing Copper Haul Twister didn’t deter Yukon musher Mandy Pearson from achieving her goal Sunday.

A massive turnout at the Yukon Brewing Copper Haul Twister didn’t deter Yukon musher Mandy Pearson from achieving her goal Sunday.

Pearson and her dogs cruised to their second straight Twister Race Series victory, completing the 12-mile Icy Waters course in 37:14 – more than four minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.

The race featured 39 competitors in four categories – an excellent turnout.

“It was fairly smooth,” Pearson said of her race. “I had one pretty good tangle with another musher out there after a head-on pass. They ran straight into my team, and my leaders got tangled.

“I just ran the last mile like that, because I didn’t want to stop and lose time. But I could’ve probably come in a little faster if they hadn’t had that little tangle. I’m happy with the time, but in training, they’ve been faster.”

Growing up near Lake Laberge, Pearson spent her childhood behind a sled.

She raced through her teen years and saw success across the territory.

When she left for college, she sold her dogs to Tagish musher Dave Johnson, and raced sporadically while working for Terry Streeper’s kennel in Fort Nelson, B.C.
In 2005, Pearson broke away from the sport until last year’s Rendezvous festival race, which she won.

“My partner Armin Johnson typically ran the dogs,” she explained. “But last winter, he couldn’t make it out of the bush in time, so I took the team in Rendezvous.”

Pearson’s son Elan was only two weeks old at the time.

“It was kind of crazy, but I won. It was a good welcome back, that’s for sure.”

Since then, Pearson’s love for the sport has been rekindled, and she has won both events in the Twister Series so far this season.

“I love it,” she said. “I was raised mushing dogs, so it’s part of me. The DPSAY races are great because they’re a good starting point to find out where you’re at. It’s kind of training ground, in a good way.”

In both races, she has beaten her partner, Johnson.

“He actually has set it up that way,” Pearson chuckled. “Out of our dog lot, he has given me the best dogs. He’s more interested in training the puppies. He deals with way more problems on the trail than I do.”

The first series event held last month marked the first time the couple had raced each other.

“It’s kind of fun,” she said. “He really likes it when we race together.”

Currently, Pearson owns Yukon Horsepacking Adventures, which is operated out of Fox Lake, north of Whitehorse. The trail-riding business is the culmination of Pearson’s lifelong dream.

She said if she and her dogs continue to achieve the success she has had recently, she and Johnson may attempt a few races in Alaska.

“It’s kind of a building year,” she said.

The Icy Waters trail is one of the easiest in the series, as it is flat and wide. In the early days of the Twister Series, every race was held at Icy Waters. This is the second season that the series will use a variety of routes.

Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon board president Virginia Sarrazin said the easy route may have been a factor in attracting one of the largest competitor lists in race history.

“It was incredible,” she said. “There was some new names. It was really nice. We advertised as usual, but it’s an easy trail if you want to start skijoring. I think there is more and more of a trend towards skijoring.”

Conditions were excellent for the race, with “really good” snow, a well-packed trail, and ideal temperatures, said Sarrazin.


Top finishers in each category are as follows:


Sleds, four to eight dogs (12 miles): 1st – Mandy Pearson (37:14); 2nd – Martine Lelevier (41:16); 3rd – Armin Johnson (42:11).

Skijor, one to four dogs (12 miles): 1st – Stefan Wackerhagen (39:26); 2nd – Cynthia Corriveau (41:43); 3rd – Adam Robinson (44:58).

Recreational/Pet Class, one to two dogs (three miles): 1st – Christel Bartczak (12:48); 2nd – Alexandra Rochat (13:08); 3rd – Amelie Janin (13:45).


Kids Class: 1st – Seth Carey (13:31).


Youngster Carey and his sled team stood out to Sarrazin.

“He’s the only kid showing up to these races and he’s doing great,” she said. “He’s really good.”

The Twister Race Series will now break for the month of February, which will feature the 30th running of the Yukon Quest and the River Runner 100.

It will conclude with two races in March – one at Fox Lake on March 3 and the other at Takhini Hot Springs March 24.

For full results, visit the Dog Powered Sports Association website at https://dpsay.wordpress.com.

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The next step in the revival of the Silver Sled race will entail an annual general meeting Saturday, Jan. 19 in Haines Junction.

Anyone interested in the return of the race after a four-year hiatus are welcome to attend the meeting at 1033 Nygren Subdivision, beginning at 3 p.m.

The Silver Sled dog race is a 100-mile race from Haines Junction to Silver City and return. Several shorter races have also been traditionally organized and held on the same weekend by the Silver Sled race committee, a non-profit society.

For more information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call Stephanie Routley at 867-634-3858.

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