Monday, February 24, 2014

Tonichelle's Top 10 Teams of Iditarod 2014

This year I feel at a loss on how to choose teams with any real "authority" on how they will do. With the awful weather we've had this winter and most of the late season races being cancelled it's hard to pick the top teams with any confidence. Even teams that were fantastic last season may not be quite as strong this year (due to retirements of different dogs, training time, etc). Without much info to go on with how most trained, let's just say these are guesses based on bias and past results... and what little knowledge I think I have about the sport.

1. Aliy Zirkle - the SPKennel has been one that doesn't seem to be affected by adverse trail conditions this year. Not that the races they ran were rough and tumble, but they were definitely challenging. Aliy will once again be running their A-team, and considering her second place finishes the last two years, I really really really hope this is her year.

2. Martin Buser - so long as he doesn't try something completely outside of the box, Martin should do fairly well this year. He typically does well in years where teams have to be "babied" a little more than normal, and his team's done pretty well under the care of his son Rohn. It will really come to musher mentality, IMO, over team capabilities. Because the dogs seem more than capable of going all the way for a win!

3. Dallas Seavey - this could go either way. Last year he was running a team filled with a lot of newbie dogs. Pups he's raised in his kennel. Now they're coming in as veterans, but there's no real way to judge how they will do in the conditions being reported currently on the trail.

4. Mitch Seavey - reigning champion, he's planning on taking quite a few of last year's team with him to Nome. Tanner will once again lead his team, hopefully to another victory. He's been training all over when there's been snow, and if they've trained at all in the Sterling area as well then they'll have a lot of dry land training in as well. Mitch does well with a "slower" trail, so it will come down to strategy and skill, both of which he excels at.

5. Jeff King - there's some rumor going around that he's planning to withdraw, but until I see it I'll keep him on my top 10 list. He's a four time Iditarod Champion. His dogs have been learning the ropes quickly (though they quit before Nome). I have faith.

6. Ray Redington Jr. - He made a statement last year with the way he drove his team, I have no doubt he will be in the mix again this year. The Redingtons need a Champion at some point in this race, don't you think? Ray seems to be the one who agrees with me! ha ha!

7. Robert Sorlie - he has a pretty good Iditarod track record, but he's coming back from a long hiatus from the race (though I believe his team has been very active in races in Europe). Still, he has good a chance - if not better - than anyone. I am not going to count Team Norway out!

8. Jake Berkowitz - Jake's got the team, he just have to really go for it. I have no doubt he can, but with the trail conditions being what they reportedly are, we could see him pull back or even pull out. We'll see, but I have high hopes for Jake!

9. The Smyth brothers - don't make me choose between Cim and Ramey. Either one of them can come whipping practically out of nowhere to make the race very interesting. Normally it's Ramey, but, we'll see. I just can't in good faith leave them out of my top 10. In the Iditarod nearly anything is possible.

10. Paul Gebhardt - I've been waffling between several teams, but something keeps pulling me back to the Gebhardt ticket. He is a consistent "also ran" and it would be a huge upset, but there again...

Honestly I think I should've just gone with five, I really can't figure out if my picks are good or not. I just don't know enough about the teams this year. I just hope for a good race, and an awesome trail. Good luck to all of the teams!

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