Sunday, March 11, 2012

We've made the coast...

The West Coast of Alaska. You can see Russia from your house... well, okay maybe not. Just in certain places, and none of the front runners are much concerned with scenery. This could be the hardest part of their journey. The West Coast is brutal in cold, there are no trees really and the wind comes right off of the Berring Sea. It's a lot of white, and a lot of wind, and it can be demoralizing... and it's the last third of the way to Nome.

Up to now Aliy Zirkle has had an unprecidented command of the trail. Commentators, mushers, and fans alike all wondered if she could keep the pace all the way to Nome. Her run from Kaltag to Unalakleet suggested the team was tiring. Most have now turned their attention and bets to Dallas Seavey. Seavey was second into the town of Unalakleet, and is about an hour behind Zirkle. Dallas made comments before the race to family and friends that this was his year. He was going to win.

It's still a long way to Nome, and anything can happen. Burmeister is also within striking distance, and all it takes is a mistake or a slowing team and Aaron could take the prize. There's also King coming up fast. Mitch Seavey's team seems to have slowed with no plans to catch up. Mitch's race apparently ended in Ruby, now he's going to maintain to stay in the top 10.

Right now the top teams that have made their way into the first checkpoint on the Coast are resting. It was a cold night out on the River, and it's time to get a few winks and recharge and regas the batteries - both human and canine.

Can Dallas win? Sure. He's got a great team, he's extremely competitive, and he's within range. But, will he? So many are beginning to count Aliy out, but that's always a dangerous thing to do. How many times did we think King was going to beat Mackey in those four years? Things change, drama happens and anyone can win. I wouldn't be surprised if Baker's team also found their second wind and drove it home.

As for the drama of Mackey trash talking Dallas Seavey - who knows what's that about. Dallas can be cocky and obnoxious, that's a given. He's 25, one of the best at just about everything he sets his mind to, and what's "worse" is he knows it. That being said I've always heard him speak highly of his competitors, including Mackey. I've never been a fan of Lance, though I cannot deny his dogs are amazing. He won four consecutive titles, there's no way you can deny he has the gift. But that's where the admiration ends. That he's decided to pick on Dallas is not the reason, it's his mouth in general. With his whining of not being loved or appreciated by fans or the Iditarod, he completely turned me off. It doesn't surprise me he mouthed off about Dallas, as if Seavey's the reason his dogs crapped out this year.

Dallas has either not been told of the comments, or decided to take the high road and let his dogs' performance do the talking. Either way, in this case, Dallas easily wins. As Danny Seavey, Dallas' older brother, noted this morning on facebook, "Sorry Lance, but if you think Dallas was cocky already, wait till you see him in Nome!" Oh, snap!

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