Monday, January 16, 2017

Copper Basin 300 dominated by Girl Power!

Ryne Olson of Two Rivers, Alaska at the ReStart of Iditarod 44.
Olson is the first woman to win the Copper Basin 300 in 16 years.
The 2017 Copper Basin 300 has become known as one of the most difficult in race memory - and it hasn't officially ended yet, but a champion has been crowned. Ryne Olson of Two Rivers, Alaska, is the first woman champion in 16 years. Coming in second was Paige Drobny, another newer musher to the scene. Third place looks to be well known veteran of the trails Michelle Phillips. This is believed to be the first time women have taken the top three spots in a well-established mid-distance race (or any dog sled race).

Olson is somewhat of a newcomer to the scene, she's steadily built up her kennel after leaving SP Kennel - run by Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore - to pursue her goals to become a competitive musher. Not surprisingly, Ryne has taken what she learned from the current top rated female musher and gone the distance. While many believe Nicolas Petit to be the odds on favorite to win, the outcome was not meant to be. Snow storms blew in over the weekend, causing a soft trail which most believed caused the race to slow. Petit's early lead created issues for the team as they were constantly breaking trail, ultimately seeing the team scratch (end the race early). Another well seasoned veteran of mid and long distance racing, Sebastian Schnuelle also scratched today - citing the vehicle collision with his team last month as a big factor in the health and strength of his team. Schnuelle scratched from the CB 300 and has withdrawn from the Iditarod due to his concerns for his team.

The race is not finished, the tracker shows at least 20 teams still headed for the finish line. But for now the victory is seeing a resurgence of lady mushers taking control of one of the toughest races in the competitive season. With less than a month away from the Yukon Quest, and under two months for Iditarod, fans and commentators alike are talking of a girl power fueled championship. This hope may be a tad premature, but it's definitely an exciting conclusion to this year's Copper Basin, and makes things interesting going forward - not just for 2017, but for the years to come. Aliy Zirkle's got company.

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