With the noticeable absence of a few past champions, the top spots in the Limited North American were up for grabs. In the 3-dog skijor class, Andy Warwick led the field for all three days, while behind him the positions were shifting between Cindy Salmon and Kim Wells. The final placing saw Warwick lead over Wells, Salmon and Lewanski. Warwick frostbit his nose on day three. Needing to get more air, he removed his mask and Old Man Winter took a bite.Susan Seitz led the first day of racing in the 2-dog skijor class. With warmer temperatures than in the past, skijorers had soft trail conditions with drifted snow and deep sections. Seitz slipped back on the second day, with Kriya Dunlap winning with a good margin over Greg Jurek and Seitz. Becky Voris followed in 4th position. Day three saw firmer trails after extensive grooming and packing of the softer now and removal of the windblown snow. The final placing stayed the same.Three skiers tackled the 1-dog event, with a seemingly mis-matched team of 6’2″ inch Andy Seitz and his 30lb female Mabel, who finished ahead of the rest of the 1-dogers by over 7 minutes over the 3 days.A surprise to both herself and the field, Malinda Holmes won the 4-dog event taking all three heats. Holmes lives in Northway, a small village south of Fairbanks, and traveled more than 5 hours each way to compete in the preliminary and championship races during the season. With no maintained trails at home, Holmes’ children helped with grooming the trails around her home where she trained. The 2nd through 10th places changed throughout the three days with Scott Campbell finishing 2nd and a flu-plagued Kim Wells finish 3rd. A-Young Kim, a visiting musher from Korea used dogs borrowed from Rob Downey for the 4-dog class, and while never running on such well maintained trails, she was the most improved musher over the three days. Finishing 10th on the first day, she moved up to 6th place after the 3rd and final heat. The 6-dog event was the most contested with 23 entrants. Annamaet challenge series winner of the 6-dog class, Jennifer Probert has had an incredible season. After making the recent decision to return to mushing as a way to spend time with the family, Probert has won almost every race she has entered this year. She gives credit to her dogs, which are the same size as herself, and her good-luck charm – a pair of lynx-fur mittens made by her late Grandmother, which were originally made for her mother who raced in the Women’s World Championships. Probert carries the mittens in her sled bag on every training run and race. Trisha Seibold-Sonnichsen took the 2nd day’s heat with a 4 second lead overall, but Probert squeaked through to win the final heat, and overall. Probert’s lead over 2nd placing Bev Stevens was just 1/10th of a second. Bev had toyed with the idea of retiring, and had already planned homes for most of her dogs, but after she started winning races again, she shelved the idea. We will be seeing more of Bev in the coming years.Christian Taveau, with his main leader out with an illness, wasn’t sure what the weekend would bring. Taveau lives most of the time in France and travels to Alaska during the summer and winter. He worked hard during the heavy snowfalls this year, with the help of his wife and handler Marisse, to groom trails around his Knik home in preparation for the championship races. The hard work paid off, and the ever-smiling Frenchman led the field to win the 8-dog class. Taveau did have to work hard though, as two very prominent mushers were breathing down his neck. Stacy Lanser, recently taking over the Lanser family kennel from her retired husband, Eric, won the third heat of the 8-dog class with a clean run. On her first day she had to stop at the turn when her dogs wanted to go further, but even with that stop she managed to be within 13 seconds of Taveau. Rob Downey, who has traveled from Pennsylvania every year for the past 16 years for the Championship Races, placed third overall. Rob went into the race with a few key dogs out of the line-up, and was very pleased with the team’s overall performance.Rough trail conditions caused many mushers to scratch. With little snow throughout the season, the trail was so rough that in places that the surface was heavily wash-boarded, and had steep drop-offs that posed problems for the 8-dog teams.
Racing in the ACE Race with Tonya Helm On this episode of the Mushing podcast,