• 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: 1 confirmed dead in Russian Jack shooting

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 29, 1:02

    One person has been confirmed dead after an early Thursday night shooting in the Russian Jack neighborhood, police say. The Anchorage Police Department responded to the report of a shooting near the intersection of Bragaw Street and San Jeronimo Court at around 12:30 a.m. This is the fourth fatal shooting of 2015. This is a […]

  • News

    JBER: active-shooter drill will cause gate closures, loud noises

    by Shannon Kemp on Jan 28, 23:09

    An active-shooter drill will be held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson starting Thursday, base officials say. Starting at 7 a.m. on Thursday, the drill will test the ability of base personnel to respond to a situation similar to those faced by the victims of the Ft. Hood shooting near Killeen, Texas on Nov. 5, 2009, during […]

  • News

    Event for Anchorage’s homeless connects hundreds to resources

    by Shannon Ballard on Jan 28, 22:32

    A major humanitarian event called Project Homeless Connect worked to help nearly 800 people take steps towards permanent housing in Anchorage today. James Guisgetti was one of those people. He says he has been in and out of homes for 10 years. “I lost my job and therefore I couldn’t pay my rent,” said Guisgetti. “I […]

  • News

    Lack of funds hinder intersection improvements in South Anchorage

    by Dave Leval on Jan 28, 22:11

    Alaska’s budget issues continue to throw up more roadblocks for construction projects around town, according to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. The DOT wants to improve nine intersections around South Anchorage, including the one at Rabbit Creek Road and Golden View Drive. The department says the intersection has more crashes than most, and it’s been […]

  • News

    Bean’s Cafe soup road show back in Anchorage

    by Heather Hintze on Jan 28, 19:00

    There’s a soup showdown in town, a bean brawl to see which of Bean’s Café’s four flavors is a favorite for 2015. “Some people really get into it,” said marketing outreach coordinator Laura Nelson. “This is our second year doing this, and people really enjoy trying them. They like to talk to their friends about […]

  • News

    Walmart stocks shelves with Alaskan seafood

    by Bonney Bowman on Jan 28, 18:51

    A retail giant is now offering a wider selection of Alaskan seafood products. Walmart originally planned to stop selling Alaskan salmon, because the industry decided to stop paying for an outside group to certify the fish as sustainable. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and former Sen. Mark Begich both lobbied the chain to reconsider, since sustainable harvest […]

  • News

    Alaska lawmakers wait for marijuana bill rewrite that ‘reflects the will of the voters’

    by Sierra Starks on Jan 28, 18:03

    Alaska lawmakers have tabled a bill on how to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, saying they’re waiting for a bill rewrite that more accurately reflects what Alaskans asked for when they voted in November. After voters approved the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Alaska, the goal is now to pass a bill by Feb. […]

  • News

    APD seeking whereabouts of missing 14-year-old

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jan 28, 15:16

    The Anchorage Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing 14-year-old girl who is considered a runaway. Police say Janessa Rodrigo-Legarda was last seen leaving school at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 15. She is described as 4’5″ tall, weighing roughly 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black North Face fleece jacket, black […]