• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: DIRECTV Customers: Tell DIRECTV to bring back KTVA - Call 800-531-5000. - Read More
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

  • News

    No injuries reported in downtown Anchorage structure fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 01, 9:48

    No injuries were reported after the Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) responded to a structure fire near 500 East 5th Avenue Wednesday morning. Crews received the call at 9:04 a.m. and were on scene by 9:07 a.m., according to AFD assistant fire chief Erich Scheunemann. The fire was deemed under control at 9:27 a.m. Scheunemann said the […]

  • Politics

    Ben Carson clears initial Senate test vote

    by Associated Press on Mar 01, 7:45

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate has given its initial approval to President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson. Carson’s actual confirmation vote is likely Thursday. Carson, a celebrated African-American neurosurgeon and candidate in last year’s GOP presidential primary, cleared a preliminary Senate hurdle on a bipartisan 62-37 vote. […]

  • Sports

    Jeff King aims for fifth Iditarod title

    by John Thain on Mar 01, 7:22

    What’s a musher without their team? “I’ve got a team of Navy Seals,” Jeff King said of his dogs. Like any good relationship, King and his team have a relationship that works both ways.  “It’s no fun to me if I don’t like them and they don’t like me, and I don’t like them,” King explained. Training […]

  • Juneau’s $170 million natural gas project on hold

    by Associated Press on Mar 01, 7:01

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – Juneau’s privately owned electric utility is holding off on plans to bring natural gas to Alaska’s capital city due to lower oil prices. Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Tuesday that Alaska Electric Light & Power’s owner, Washington-state-based Avista, had expressed interest in shipping liquefied natural gas from British Columbia to Juneau as […]

  • Lifestyle

    Fishery board changes management of sockeye in Kenai River

    by Associated Press on Mar 01, 6:44

    KENAI, Alaska (AP) – The Board of Fisheries has changed its target for how many late-run sockeye salmon need to make it out of the Kenai River. The Peninsula Clarion reported Monday (that the board spent its first day deliberating an Alaska Department of Fish and Game proposal seeking to a review of escapement and […]

  • Budapest assembly passes motion to withdraw 2024 Olympic bid

    by Associated Press on Mar 01, 6:34

    BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – Budapest’s assembly has approved a motion to withdraw the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics. Wednesday’s decision leaves Los Angeles and Paris as the only remaining candidates. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city in September. Budapest’s decision to withdraw came after a new political group appeared to have […]

  • News

    APD seeks whereabouts of 12-year-old missing for more than 36 hours

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 28, 22:30

    Last updated at 9:52 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1 The Anchorage Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing 12-year-old girl whose family has not seen or heard from her in more than a day. APD Sgt. Roger Nelson said Tyleesha Inkster’s family reported her missing around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, approximately […]

  • Lifestyle

    Colorectal cancer rates rising in Gen X and millennials, study finds

    by Ashley Welch / CBS News on Feb 28, 20:17

    Colorectal cancer rates have been declining overall in the United States since the mid-1980s, but certain age groups are seeing a concerning rise in cases, according to new research. The study, led by scientists from the American Cancer Society, highlights a “curious” increase colorectal cancer rates in millennials and Generation Xers, including people in their […]