Yukon Quest – Close races to the finish line

This afternoon saw 4 more mushers arrive in Fairbanks. Race fans were out in force enjoying the sunshine, despite the frigid temperatures. On the side line cheering mushers on were Iditarod Champ Libby Riddles and Yukon Quest veterans Jennifer Cochran and Dan Kaduce. Gerry Willomitzer was also on hand to welcome fellow competitors home.Aaron Burmeister started off the afternoon. After a close race with Michelle Phillips, Burmeister pulled ahead when Phillips made a wrong turn. Aaron’s team looked great crossing the finish line and he was relieved to make it ahead of Michelle. Since he didn’t know about the wrong turn, he assumed she was just behind him. Aaron’s 5th place finish will secure him the title of ‘Rookie of the Year’. He told reporters that he had a good time on the Yukon Quest this year, and was releived that the climbs weren’t as tough as he had imagined. When asked about Eagle Summit, he replied, ‘Well, that was a tough one, but it made it more fun.’Michelle Phillips finished in 6th place behind Aaron with her trademark smile and a frosty dog team. She was greeted by husband and handler, Ed Hopkins who was really pleased with how the team looked coming in. ‘Look at how good they look!’ he proudly exclaimed. ‘Michelle’s done a fantastic job with that team.’With Mike Jayne closing in on Sebastian Schnuelle, the crowd anxiously awaited the arrival of the next team. Finally Sebastian Schnuelle rounded the bend with his team. The dogs trotted happily across the finish line and looked great. Libby Riddles, first woman to win the Iditarod, was on hand to welcome Sebastian to the finish and help him with his team.Mike Jayne arrived behind Sebastian, visibly disappointed that he could not catch the Yukon Quest veteran, but pleased with his 8th place finish.Due in next is Hugh Neff. John Schandelmeier and Dave Dalton left Chena Hot Springs together and will arrive early Thursday morning.


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