Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

VICTORY CELEBRATION – Brent Sass celebrates a first-place finish in Whitehorse with his furry crew at the 2020 Yukon Quest.

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

ON THE TRAIL – Sass helping his dogs on the trail en route to his first place finish in 2020.

Yukon Quest elects new board following AGM

The Yukon Quest held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 23. Executive Director (ED) Bonnie Michaudville, who started as ED in April, said, “our financial statements were reviewed and accepted, new board members voted on.

By Morris Prokop on August 30, 2021

The Yukon Quest held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 23. Executive Director (ED) Bonnie Michaudville, who started as ED in April, said, “our financial statements were reviewed and accepted, new board members voted on.

So nothing outstanding at the AGM, just business as usual.”

The new board of directors is as follows:

• Susan Rogan, President

• Bryan Alp, Vice-President

• Trudy Burdess, Secretary

• Anne Tayler, Treasurer

• Didier Moggia, Director

• Thomas Tetz, Director

• Hans Gatt, Director

• Sebastian Schnuelle, Director

• Patrick Beille, Director

• Frank Turner, Musher’s Representative

According to Michaudville, this is Rogan’s second year on the board, and Didier Moggia’s as well. Some of the other board members were recruited to “fill in the blanks” when other board members left. The rest are new.

Michaudville says there is a good balance on the board.

“We have mushers – obviously you have to have mushers on the board for their input – it’s a race for the mushers.

“We’ve got some business people on board, some tourism people on board … so I think it’s a really good balance between hands-on marketing experience and … I’m quite happy with the board,” states Michaudville.

Rogan was interim president at the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year, as the former president, Bev Regier, took a leave of absence. Rogan took over for a couple of months.

“We had a meeting after the AGM, of the new board of directors, “ relates Michaudville. “She was voted in as president there.”

Frank Turner resumed his role as musher rep.

“I think it’s a really good balance of people, with mushers with experience of the trail, and marketing people, business people – I think it’s a really good blend right now.”

Michaudville says the board has lots of experience with putting on races, and also brings marketing experience to the boardroom table.

The board members have been elected for different terms.

“A percentage of them are on for two years, and a percentage are on for one year. You can only have so many members on a two-year term on your board, so this encourages turnover at staggered periods,” explains Michaudville.

She says the Quest’s financial picture is looking good.

“We’re actually in a good spot right now. Our budget has been passed for 2021-22, and we’re very happy with it. We’ve started sponsorship procurement, and … we’re in a good spot.”

“That being said, you always have to be careful, because especially this is my first year in this position, so I want to make sure that we are fiscally – are financially responsible to not just our members, but Yukon Quest fans as a whole.”

When asked if COVID affected the bottom line, Michaudville replied “not really. It affected our race schedule for this year more than anything. Whether that race schedule affects our bottom line and sponsorship remains to be seen … I’ll soon find out. I just started the sponsorship campaign.”

Michaudville said the financials were pretty much as usual, with one important exception.

“We did put aside a little bit … (I) wouldn’t say different amount, because this is a different race structure. So we just allocated different purse money to the Yukon Quest Cup, which has never happened before.

“I wouldn’t say it is more purse money. It is less money, because we’re not putting on as big of a race.”

Michaudville explains the Yukon Quest Cup, and how it came about.

“The Alaskan Board and the Yukon board got together and we put out a survey to all mushers … in Yukon, in Alaska, all over Canada and the U.S. – anybody who had come before, (or) had an intention of coming – and we got about 106 responses back. And out of those responses, there was a certain percentage who wanted to run the 1000 mile in 2022, but out of that percentage, there was only so many that could qualify, because COVID – there weren’t as many qualifiers last year.

“So the boards decided it wasn’t reasonable and responsible to run the 1000 mile this year. But the interest that was indicated on the survey was gonna be there for 2023.

“So Alaska’s running their two races. We’re running our two races. If somebody runs a race on both sides, then they qualify for more purse money, which we’re calling the Yukon Quest Cup 2022.”

“There’s the Yukon Quest 300 – Yukon, Yukon Quest 550 – Alaska, and then the other two races, then they could qualify for the cup. Which is a separate amount of purse money. It’s a bonus,” says Michaudville.

“We’ve committed – for the 300, a minimum of $35,000; the 100, a minimum of $5000. Right now, the Cup purse is a minimum of $5000,” she adds.

According to Michaudville, on the Alaskan side they’re doing a 550-mile race and a 200-mile race. If somebody races on both sides, they could do two qualifiers for 2023.

The races here in Whitehorse are both starting on February 19th, 2022. The 300-mile is going to start at 3 p.m., followed by the 100-mile at 4 p.m.

The 300-mile will go along the Yukon Quest trail. They’ll pass through Pelly, go around Stepping Stone, and back to Pelly for the finish line.

The 100-mile starts here in Whitehorse and finishes in Braeburn.

“The Alaskan board and the Yukon board are working very well together and we’re both committed to the 2020 race in 2023,” reports Michaudville.

“We wish there was a 1,000 mile in 2022 but there wasn’t enough mushers, and the mushers have been hit by COVID. Of course the border’s always in the back of our minds – whether it’s going to be open or not. But COVID has hit our mushers financially as well, so it’s just too bad all around.”

Are there any circumstances in which they would cancel the races?

“No … I can’t see us cancelling ever. We may not get signups from somewhere else, but, I can’t see us cancelling at all,” stated Michaudville adamantly.

She’s hopeful the border situation will change before it’s time to ‘release the hounds.’

“We’re not allowed to go into the states yet, but hopefully that gets sorted out before February, and some of our mushers can cross back and forth to enter both races, and that’s the goal of this, to bring more – because Alaska has more mushers than us, so to bring some of them over here, and help the Alaska races by some of our mushers going over there, and to keep the partnership alive that way, which everybody’s so excited about,” she added.

As for what kind of COVID protocols they may have in place for the race, Michaudville was understandably noncommittal.

“I can’t really speak on that. It will depend on what the regulations are – by the government. Whatever regulations they put in front of us, we’ll have to comply with.”

Michaudville closes with a message to the worldwide legions of Quest fans out there.

“Just to keep posted on our Facebook and our website. We’re doing lots of marketing, and updates as we go along. We’re going to have musher profiles on our Facebook page, and eventually on our website, so just to keep tuned.”

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