• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 47s

Mixed feelings surround Iditarod restart decision

By Heather Hintze 7:45 PM February 17, 2014

Many mushers were hoping the race would begin in Fairbanks because of better trail conditions

WASILLA - The Iditarod restart will stay in Willow.

It wasn’t a decision staff came to lightly.

On Saturday a crew drilled holes along the Yentna River to see if the ice was thick enough to support heavy grooming equipment. A local construction company offered to help with a groomer that would grind the icy, rough trails into manageable snow.

On Sunday, staffers flew over the trails to Skwentna to get a look at conditions.

The Iditarod said it had to make a decision by Monday, Feb. 17.

After a nearly four-hour meeting, Executive Director Stan Hooley announced the restart would remain in Willow.

“Really the only thing we talked about as an organization was do we have enough to work with to make this a safe trail? Through a combination of the equipment and the people involved I’m confident that we do,” Hooley said.

Mushers have mixed reactions to the decision. Many were hoping the race would begin in Fairbanks because of better trail conditions.

Anna Berington said she’s been training her dogs from Eureka and Cantwell because there isn’t enough snow at her kennel outside Wasilla.

“You can see grass all around and this is just ice,” Berington said, running her Bunny Boots over the glossy trail.

That’s why she was confident the race would have to start in Fairbanks.

KTVA told Berington and fellow musher Nicolas Petit just minutes after the announcement that a decision had been made.

“What?!” they both said in disbelief.

In between traveling for training runs, Berington said now she has to figure out what she’ll need on the sparse trails.

“I always send out an extra sled,” she said. “So I’ll definitely send out extra sled and maybe in that extra sled some extra parts or something. Or maybe from the start I’ll carry a couple extra brake pieces. Last year I broke my sled and it was a good snow year.”

Scott Janssen, also known as the Mushing Mortician, had a sled all picked out to head down the Yukon if the race moved to Fairbanks. He’s glad that didn’t happen though.

“To spend 700 miles on a river, it’s boring for the dogs and it’s boring for us,” Janssen said. “It makes the time pass a little slower. Whether you’re going five miles an hour or ten miles an hour, when you’re going through the trees it just seems a little bit more exciting.”

The restart news means Petit will have to make changes to his team. On icy trails the fastest dogs won’t be leading the pack.

“Every time a dog slips on ice it could hurt her shoulder, wrist, hurt its back, so we’re going to take it really slow until we get to better trail conditions. Then we’ll pick up the speed a little bit,” he explained.

Mushers said they have to trust the Iditarod staff made the best decision based on what will be safest for the dogs.

“They wouldn’t make us go through it if they thought it was going to be bad for the dogs,” Petit said. “But we’re all a little bit apprehensive about it. They’re our best friends, we don’t want to hurt them.”

The Iditarod start begins in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1 at 10 a.m. in Downtown Anchorage.

The restart at Willow starts Sunday, March 2 at 2 p.m.

Latest Stories

  • Crime

    Anchorage police: 2 injured in separate overnight shootings

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Aug 29, 8:03

    Anchorage police say two men were injured in shootings that happened in the overnight hours between Friday and Saturday. Officers received calls reporting shots fired and responded to a parking lot, located near Third Avenue and C Street, according to a release from the Anchorage Police Department. There, they found an adult male with multiple […]

  • Sports

    Friday’s high school football recap

    by KTVA Sports on Aug 28, 22:57

    The weekend is off to a rousing start. The top-ranked team in the state, West survived a late charge by #2 Dimond, winning on the road at Alumni Field 18-13. The Eagles took an 18-0 lead into the half as Julo Tagalu scored twice and PJ Seui added a touchdown run. At Palmer, the Moose got their first win of the […]

  • Sports

    Service H.S. quarterback suspended

    by Dave Goldman on Aug 28, 22:42

    Service High Football will have to regroup. Sophomore starting quarterback Xavier Harris has been suspended from school. He will not be in uniform for Saturday’s game with Soldotna. “All we can say is we have a young man that’s been suspended from school and he will not be on the roster tomorrow.” said Service Head Coach […]

  • Weather

    Evening News Weather, Aug. 28

    by KTVA Weather on Aug 28, 22:26

    Kenai Peninsula/Prince William Sound Expect partly cloudy skies Saturday with highs in the upper 50s and low 60s.   Southeast Showers will be likely as an area of low pressure continues to churn up gulf moisture into the Panhandle. Highs will be in the mid 50s.   Interior/North Slope For the Interior, expect a chance […]

  • News

    Eating Alaskan at the Alaska State Fair

    by Shannon Ballard on Aug 28, 22:06

    It’s not hard to find people who like to eat their way through the Alaska State Fair. Beth Foglesong is one of them. Every year she stops at the Pristine Products booth to slurp some fresh oysters from Prince William Sound. “The people that like them come every year,” said oyster farmer Dave Sczawiaski. Sczawiaski’s oysters […]

  • News

    Presidential visits to Alaska: Memorable, if not quirky

    by Rhonda McBride on Aug 28, 21:55

    With all the buildup to President Barack Obama’s visit to the 49th state next week, it’s worth a look back at past presidential visits. They’re far and few between. Usually, Alaska is not the destination but rather a refueling stop for Air Force One. What’s significant about this trip is the length of stay. Obama […]

  • News

    President Obama to announce Denali Commission as lead agency on community relocation project

    by Emily Russell / KNOM on Aug 28, 18:05

    The U.S. Arctic Research Commission was in Nome this week discussing Arctic issues ranging from international shipping to climate change. One presenter in particular unveiled a key detail about an initiative President Obama is expected to announce during his visit to the state next week—involving relocation efforts for rural villages in the face of climate […]

  • News

    Governor issues state disaster declaration for Sitka landslides

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Aug 28, 17:46

    Alaskans suffered the aftermath of several landslides in the Sitka area on Aug. 18, but a state disaster declaration from Gov. Bill Walker’s office on Thursday may help restoration within the community. The landslides claimed the lives of three Sitka men and caused significant damage to buildings, roads and other structures in the area. The […]