Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 21, 2014

Yukon mushing series off to hot start

The Yukon’s recreational mushing series is off to a hot start – literally.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 21, 2014 at 2:50 pm

The Yukon’s recreational mushing series is off to a hot start – literally.

The second race of the Yukon Brewing Twister Race Series was held at the Takhini Hot Springs Saturday morning in temperatures warmer than -5 Celsius.

Skijorer Katherine Sheepway recorded the fastest time around the 20-km loop, finishing in 54:30 with a team made up of four dogs.

Sheepway also won the first Twister race of the season last month during a race she and her husband Darryl hosted, completing a 15-mile loop in 1:07:45.

“It’s been a good start to the season, but I’m not getting cocky yet,” Sheepway chuckled during an interview with the Star. “I feel like there is strong competition in my category, but I’m happy with my results. I’m still striving to have that perfect race.”

Cynthia Corriveau and her team of three dogs came in second with a time of 55:23, with Sarah Ouellette and her two dogs were third in a time of 1:05.42.

Sheepway, 29, took last year off from the sport before giving birth to her first child in April.

Gunter Glaeser, 64, won the sled division by finishing the 20-km trail in 56:49.

Hot on his heels were runner-up Marine Gastard (57:32) and Alexandra Rochat (58:40).

Glaeser is a relative newcomer to the series and the victory marked his first-ever win of a mushing race in his four-year career.

Virginia Sarrazin, secretary of the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon, which facilitates the mushing series, said the Twister series remains a good draw for recreational and rookie mushers.

“For the winter races, there is always a good turnout,” she said. “It’s really great for new teams to train in a race environment.

“It’s also to test your own competitiveness. Every year there is a new person showing that they have a great team. Last year it was Mandy Pearson and this year it’s Katherine.”

Last season’s dominant skijorer, Stefan Wackerhagen, has moved to Sweden.

While the first scheduled race of the season was postponed and then eventually cancelled due to poor snow conditions at the Copper Haul Road, Sarrazin said the next two races have gone on without a hitch.

Warm temperatures did have mushers and skijorers fretting before Saturday’s race, however.

“It was a challenge for the teams because it was warm, and with the conditions, it was a really fast trail,” said Sarrazin, who was the last skijorer to finish the race.

“Even at -10 C, the dogs tend to overheat a bit. It really depends on the team and how the dogs react. You are only as fast as your slowest dog.”

Sheepway said icy conditions and soft snowpack made it an interesting race, and there were a lot of moments in Saturday’s race where she was racing faster than her dogs.

Sheepway was the only skijorer with four dogs on the line. During training runs, she has clocked herself going as fast as 50 kph.

“Four dogs is a lot of dog power,” she admitted. “It’s a lot of speed. My dogs do have the ability to get going pretty fast.”

Prior to the race, twin sisters Lori and Louve Twedell completed a seven-km loop which qualified them for the Arctic Winter Games.

The next race in the series will be held Feb. 15 at Fox Lake.

By MARCEL VANDER WIER
Star Sports Editor

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