• 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

  • Anchorage sisters spreading holiday cheer with elf-grams

    by Sierra Starks on Dec 02, 12:47

    Two Anchorage sisters have dubbed themselves Santa’s little helpers this season. Morgan and Mia Grace Stratton have been delivering joy to the masses through elf-grams — song-and-dance routines — the two are serving up as a fundraiser. The idea was the brainchild of their mother, Jennifer Stratton, inspired by the movie “Elf” with Will Ferrell. […]

  • Man who stabbed Fred Meyer employee indicted on assault, robbery charges

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 02, 12:20

    A 31-year-old Anchorage man who stabbed a security guard at the Midtown Fred Meyer was indicted by a grand jury on assault and robbery charges Thursday, according to a Friday release from the District Attorney’s Office. The criminal complaint states Steven Treadway was approached by a Fred Meyer loss prevention officer on Nov. 20 because the […]

  • Teen convicted of shooting former radio host over vape charger

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 12:18

    An 18-year-old Anchorage man who told police he killed his foster father because he took away a vapor cigarette charger has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. State prosecutors say Peter Henry pleaded guilty Friday to killing 64-year-old Marvell Johnson on Oct. 6, 2014. Henry was 16 when Johnson died. A plea agreement calls for a […]

  • DayBreak

    Daybreak Adopt-a-Pet for Dec. 2, 2016

    by Daybreak Staff on Dec 02, 12:00

    From Anchorage Animal Care and Control: Louie, Huey and Dewey: These young brothers are a little shy of people, but with gentle and patient handling, they’ll grow into fun little companions. Bun Bun and Bane: Two charming rabbits are looking for homes. Bun Bun has lived with a rabbit-friendly dog and cat before and enjoyed […]

  • Politics

    Young doesn’t see GOP as rubber stamp of Trump’s ideas

    by Becky Bohrer / AP on Dec 02, 11:14

    U.S. Rep. Don Young says there are similarities between the election of Donald Trump and the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, which he says came during a period of “malaise” when people lacked hope and wanted change. Young is the longest-serving Republican in the House and Trump’s administration will be the ninth he’s served alongside. […]

  • News

    Ferry riders on Southeast route to see new ticket policy

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 8:58

    The Alaska Marine Highway System is changing the way passengers pay for ferry sailings on a Southeast Alaska route starting next year. CoastAlaska News reports that ferry spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says those riding the small Lituya will pay for a round trip to go one direction and get a free trip on the way back. The […]

  • News

    Rescuers carry down skier after injury at Turnagain Pass

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 8:07

    A 36-year-old Anchorage skier was carried to safety after an injury at Turnagain Pass. Alaska State Troopers say emergency responders in Soldotna on Wednesday received a call that Brett Harvey had been injured on Seattle Ridge and could not hike down. The nature of the injury was not disclosed. The Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, Anchorage […]

  • News

    Alaska aims to ban smoking in public housing by spring

    by Associated Press on Dec 02, 7:45

    The federal government is giving public housing agencies nationwide 18 months to implement a ban on smoking, but the state of Alaska is looking to crack down on tobacco much sooner. KYUK-AM reports the director of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Cathy Stone, says the state’s ban on smoking in public housing developments could take effect […]