Alaska’s mushing season has kicked off. And so far, two highly competitive Railbelt races have been won by the same sled-dog driver.
This year’s Copper Basin 300 was slow. In fact, it was the latest finish in Glennallen that race manager Jason Severs can recall.
“It snowed probably a foot to 15 inches throughout the region here from Sunday on through today,” Severs said.
A firm, crusty base-layer was covered up by all that fresh powder, making for a punchy trail that slowed dogs down.
Out of 43 teams that entered this year’s race, 16 scratched — an exceptionally high number. Severs blamed a turn in the weather early in the route.
“The mushers got to Chistochina and the wind started picking up, and going from Chistochina to Meier’s Lake the wind going across the hump up there was blowing 30-plus miles an hour,” he said.
According to Severs, some mushers withdrew in order to prevent injuries among their dogs.
But Monday evening, a little after 7pm, Nicholas Petit crossed the finish line, securing his second top finish in as many weeks. The weekend prior he won the Knik 200. Both of the mid-distance races are qualifiers for the Iditarod and Yukon Quest, attracting seasoned veterans and rookies alike.
Petit’s victory earned him $7,000 in prize money from a total race purse of $22,000.
Second place in this year’s CB 300 was Dan Kaduce, followed by past Yukon Quest champion Alan Moore. Fourth place was taken by Ryne Olson, last year’s CB 300 winner, and a former handler for Moore and Aliy Zirkle in Two Rivers.
The next major sled-dog race of the season is the Kuskokwim 300, which starts in Bethel this Friday.