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 Schnuelle scratched from the CB 300 and has withdrawn from the Iditarod due to his concerns for his team.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.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Favorite Photos from past Tustumena 200 races

I've only gotten to shoot two T200s since 2012, not because I couldn't make it out there - but because weather caused the race to be cancelled the last three years. Not this year, though, the race is on! We're two weeks away from the Start and I am already planning to shoot both photo and video (hoping to do some live broadcast of the start and finish on my periscope account, so look for that). I'm hoping to take a half day off from work to catch the Vet Check on that Friday as well. Yup. 'Tis the season!

But I want to look back on the two races I was able to capture. Looking back was a nice stroll down memory lane (though the 2013 photos were lacking mainly due to my harddrive crashing before I could edit them all! boooo!). Here are some of my favorites:

One of DeeDee Jonrowe's dogs waits to get hooked up at the start of the 2012 race.

One of my favorite photos I've ever taken - Jeff King and his icy mustache before the race even began in 2012.

Cim Smyth coming in to win the 2012 race. He whistles to his dogs when they hit the home stretch
to let them know they're headed home. Told my dad that they pick up the pace when he does that.

Jeff King was fast on Cim's heels in 2012, but couldn't quite pull off the win, he pulled back as he came to us
and asked if Cim was still ahead of him. 

My friend Bob Parsons at the Vet Check in 2013. Big fan of mushers, and dogs. Gonna miss him this year.

The classic dog in a dog box photo.

Can't lie to me and tell me there isn't a special bond between mushers and their dogs.

In 2013 I was Team Seavey's "paid stalker" (thanks Conway for that title). Mitch won the T200 and then the Iditarod that year.

Mitch Seavey coming in to win the 2013 race. It was Superbowl Sunday and I hadn't been paying attention to the race. The T200 was going to be a "training run" for Team Seavey, he wasn't planning on racing to win. Then his team became the power house it was and he thought "what the heck, let's win this thing". I had to rush from my house to the finish line. My team was playing the big game. I was torn, but the Niners were sucking so I went. And I missed the second half of the game. What I do for these mushers and their dogs. Geez.

I just think this is a really good shot of Mitch.

Family picture at the finish of the T200 in 2013, Conway won the 100 and Mitch the 200. All in the family.