Friday, December 29, 2017

Mushing News Weekly Round Up (Dec 29)

Happy last weekend of 2017! I don't know about you, but I'm thankful that this year is coming to a close and I just pray that 2018 doesn't try to out do 2017 in the "what on earth is going on?!" department. Some days felt like the world was burning. I'm sure each generation has had this sort of feeling, but I'm not a fan of having my turn. But, I digress, this is not a blog post to whine about the past year. We're here for mushing news and fun posts, and that's what I'm here to do.

I'm trying very hard to not just share stuff from the Seavey pages, but how can I pass up this story shared on Christmas Eve? Wishing the best for Magnus, and I know Patrick will give him a very happy life.

The Northern Lights 300 has been cancelled due to the short entry list. Thirteen names were on the roster when the decision was made. The cost could not be made with so few entry fees, so the decision was announced over the weekend. The 150 could still go on with a few more entries, and that decision will be made at a later date.

Newer race the White Mountains Dogsled Race is also cancelled due to poor trail conditions. Open water and lack of snow make the race a no go. Race administration took to facebook earlier this week to make the announcement.

On December 16th it was reported that the Knik 200 was looking at possibly cancelling the 2018 race due to lack of good gold weather. A recent cold snap that brought a bit of snow along with it has apparently saved the Iditarod qualifier for the 2018 season. They will have to move the race's start and finish, but they're a definite go.

Wade Marrs just updated with an end of year, end of phase 1 of seasonal training post. It will be interesting to see his race strategy come Iditarod - especially with Dallas Seavey out of the mix.

The Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association held their Solstice 50 race on Saturday. A lot of familiar names with race fans entered the event and it looks like it was a pretty solid race. Another good opening race for teams to get their legs underneath them.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mushing News Weekly Round Up (Dec 22)

Merry Christmas weekend! Not sure if why one of the reasons there wasn't a whole lot of news the last couple of weeks is because it's the Holiday season, or because the weather's been less than ideal and so not a lot of excitement has surrounded mushing because of it. Either way, makes it hard to do one of these but I'll do my best. Oh, and MERRY CHRISTMAS! :)

The Nome Nugget is reporting that of several structures approved for demolish, on the chopping block is a house that has ties to famed musher Leonard Seppala. If you aren't familiar with that name, Seppala was the original Jeff King of mushing (aka the most winningest musher). Seppala's dog lines are still going strong in kennels, with many of Iditarod kennels sharing in at least partial bloodlines. If you're at all familiar with the Balto legend of the Nome Serum Run you know of the musher named Gunar - well, he was actually one of Seppala's "handlers" and it was only after Seppala and team (lead by Togo) drove over 100 miles that Balto and Gunnar were tagged to take the cargo into town (Balto was actually HIS dog). Seppala is synonymous with mushing in this state and world wide. Personally, I would hope that someone could buy the property and restore it and preserve history.

The Yukon Quest is revamping their education program adding features much like Iditarod's teacher on the trail. They will be on the trail answering questions of students all over the globe who are watching the race in their classrooms.

Lance Mackey took to facebook this week to update fans on his racing plans for the season. Mackey will no longer be traveling to the states, but noted that he's still planing to run races in Alaska.

I thought I'd mentioned that a photo of mind was published in a Wisconsin newspaper last week, but I can't seem to find that, so I apologize if this is a repeat. Ryan Redington is down in Wisconsin for the winter and last week hosted rides for the local kids free of charge. Like most of his family he's a dog man and a great ambassador for the sport.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers. I am not sure how much I will be on in the next week. I'll try to get another round up together for next Friday, but as I'll be getting ready for my trip outside I make no promises.

Have a safe weekend and a very happy time with friends and family!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Knik 200 & 100 looking at possible reschedule

This is not the first time weather has created problems for the race. 2013, 2015, and 2016 all saw the race cancellation due to warm weather and lack of snow. South Central Alaska has been hammered with unseasonably warm temperatures and rain. The Knik race is the first major race of the season, but other races - like the Tustumena 200 - are also in danger of having to cancel due to lack of snow and frozen lakes/rivers.

Without the mid-distance races, many Iditarod hopefuls cannot qualify for Alaska's most important race. Mushers must complete several mid-distance races to qualify for Iditarod or the Yukon Quest. The roster for the Knik 200 is full with several teams on the waiting list.

Time to up the intensity of the snow dance.

Friday, December 15, 2017

USFS "Preview" - Championship Ladies

Many thanks to Syliva at Unseen Skaters for the unofficial roster.

Starr Andrews  Short Program / Free Program

Mariah Bell   Short Program / Free Program

Emily Chan  Short Program / Free Program

Karen Chen  Short Program / Free Program

Franchesca Chiera  Short Program / Free Program

Polina Edmunds  Short Program / Free Program

Amber Glenn  Short Program / Free Program

Courtney Hicks  Short Program / Free Program

Tessa Hong  Short Program / Free Program

Vivian Le  Short Program / Free Program

Ashley Lin  Short Program / Free Program

Katie McBeath  Short Program / Free Program

Brynne McIsaac   Short Program / Free Program

Hannah Miller  Short Program / Free Program

Mirai Nagasu  Short Program / Free Program

Kaitlyn Nguyen  Short Program / Free Program

Bradie Tennell  Short Program / Free Program

Ashley Wagner  Short Program / Free Program

Angela Wang  Short Program / Free Program

Megan Wessenberg  Short Program / Free Program

Caroline Zhang  Short Program / Free Program

USFS "Preview" - Championship Men

Many thanks to Sylvia at Unseen Skaters for the unofficial roster.

Max Aaron Short Program / Free Program

Jason Brown Short Program / Free Program

Nathan Chen Short Program / Free Program

Timothy Dolensky Short Program / Free Program

Scott Dyer Short Program / Free Program

Tomoki Hiwatashi Short Program / Free Program

Grant Hochstein Short Program / Free Program

Benjamin Jalovick Short Program / Free Program

Alexander Johnson Short Program / Free Program

Alexei Krasnozhon Short Program / Free Program

Daniel Kulenkamp Short Program / Free Program

Jimmy Ma Short Program / Free Program

Ross Miner Short Program / Free Program

Jordan Moeller Short Program / Free Program

Sebastien Payannet Short Program / Free Program

Sean Rabbitt Short Program / Free Program

Adam Rippon Short Program / Free Program

Emmanuel Savary Short Program / Free Program

Kevin Shum Short Program / Free Program

Andrew Torgashev Short Program / Free Program

Vincent Zhou Short Program / Free Program

USFS "Preview" - Championship Pairs Teams

Thanks to Sylvia at Unseen Skaters for the unofficial roster.

Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc Short Program / Long Program

Jessica Calalang/Zack Sidhu Short Program / Long Program

Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran Short Program / Long Program

Winter Deardorff/Max Settlage Short Program / Long Program

Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier Short Program / Long Program

Nica Digerness/Danny Neudecker Short Program / Long Program

Jade Esposito/Rique Newby-Estrella Short Program / Long Program

Caitlin Fields/Ernie Utah Stevens Short Program / Long Program

Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea Short Program / Long Program

Chelsea Liu/Brian Johnson Short Program / Long Program

Jessica Pfund/Joshua Santillan Short Program / Long Program

Alexa Scimeca-Knierim/Chris Knierim Short Program / Long Program

Erika Smith/AJ Reiss Short Program / Long Program

Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Nathan Bartholomay Short Program / Long Program

Allison Timlen/Justin Highgate-Brutman Short Program / Long Program

Alexandria Yao/Jacob Simon Short Program / Long Program

Mushing News Weekly Round Up (Dec 15)

Another week has flown by, and there's been another week of reports and articles from the mushing community! Here are the highlights I felt needed documentation and comment.

Iditarod once again announced that it is looking at increasing security within checkpoints and the trail. This is in response to the outcry started by Dallas Seavey after it was found that Seavey's dogs tested for drugs banned by the race. Seavey maintains that he did not administer the drugs at any time to any of his team during the race, and the Iditarod Trail Committee says they have found no proof suggesting that the musher doped his dogs. Seavey and other Iditarod veterans campaigned for better security for the race as there's speculation now that a third party tampered with dogs' well-being. The Iditarod also let it be known that they are working on re-wording the "gag rule", which mushers have asked for since its inception three years ago.

The Alpine Creek Excursion Sled Dog Race took place over the weekend. While not an Iditarod or Yukon Quest qualifier, it's a fun start to the racing season and many familiar faces were on the trail. The race is unique in that it does not set starting positions, and is based on the honor system as far as recording in and out times. It's a short race, but it sounds like it was a blast. Jessie Holmes came away with first out of 22 teams racing. Full stats can be found on their facebook page.

If you don't follow Blair Braverman on her quest to qualify for the Iditarod, then you're missing out. Blair is a columnist and a book author. Her best-selling book Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North has been well received by mushers and fans alike. Blair shared a little insight into the qualification process over the week when she shared the "musher report card" used by the Iditarod to qualify a rookie.

Montana's Race to the Sky's schedule is set for early February. The mid-distance race's main sponsor this year is the Essential Oil company Young Living - that name may sound familiar, they're the main sponsor of Iditarod Champion Mitch Seavey, too. There isn't too much updated info on their website or their social media for the 2018 race. Doesn't even look like they have a roster yet. But, hey, they have a schedule!

Iditarod Trail breakers are getting prepared to start putting in the trail. Looking out the window, at this point, I'd be very surprised if they don't head to Fairbanks again. Hoping for snow and colder temps so that they can once again run the traditional trail.

Iditarod Photographer Jeff Schultz has had a difficult year. This summer his son fell during a training exercise at his firehouse and has been in the hospital and recovery ever since dealing with a traumatic brain injury. All reports on his son Ben have been extremely positive, but it's still a long road to coming home. Jeff was in the middle of putting together his newest photo book: Icons of the Iditarod. He reported last night on facebook that the books are finally in his hands and are ready for shipping/order. I joined his kickstarter campaign because I wanted to see this project happen. His book Chasing Dogs is gorgeous! (I do not get a kickback for promoting his work.)

And now some of my favorites from social media:

USFS "Preview" - Championship Dance Teams

This is basically for me, I'm one of those that likes to be familiar with what I'm going to see. I'm getting super excited for this trip, and this is keeping me from going insane waiting until it's closer to time to pack... I mean I *could* pack now for Disney but I'd rather wait until about a week out to pull out the suitcases.

Many thanks to Sylvia at Unseen Skaters for compiling the list. This is not the official roster, but it's all we have.

Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton Short Dance / Free Dance

Ashley Bain/Oleg Altukhov Short Dance / Free Dance

Julia Biechler/Damian Dodge Short Dance / Free Dance

Madison Chock/Evan Bates Short Dance / Free Dance

Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker Short Dance / Free Dance

Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue Short Dance / Free Dance

Cassidy Klopstock/Jacob Schedl Short Dance / Free Dance

Karina Manta/Joseph Johnson Short Dance / Free Dance

Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter Short Dance / Free Dance

Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons Short Dance / Free Dance

Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit Short Dance / Free Dance

Elicia Reynolds/Stephen Reynolds Short Dance / Free Dance

Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani Short Dance / Free Dance

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mushing News Weekly Round Up (Dec 8)

With the advent of social media, it's a whole lot easier for fans to immerse themselves into the mushing world. It's also easy to miss a lot of the interesting and newsworthy stuff as it seems to become overloaded in the weeks leading up to race season. Training reports begin as the leaves fall from the trees, and then almost over night the snow hits the rosters are finalized and we're in the middle of race season.

So a new feature here on Reitter's Block starting this week is a sort of weekly round up of news, and interesting stories from the mushing community. These will be selection that caught my eye, and in no way everything that happened within the week.

In response to the Iditarod Trail Committee's announcement on December 1 about their plan to come up with a standard of "Dog Care" for kennels to be eligible to compete, Iditarod Veteran Wade Marrs took to his website to share his thoughts. While, overall, Wade is supportive of the idea - he wanted to voice some concerns he had. It is equally a response to another kennel that has created a lot of drama since October when they decided to try and promote themselves as the kennel/people all mushers wish they could be like.

SP Kennel (Home of Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore) shared an adorable update on their trio of pups. It's not really news worthy, but it's adorable, and there's video. What more does a mushing fan need than a puppy cam?!

Monday brought the amusing with the report that Jeff King was auctioned off during the Talkeetna Bachelor Auction, and brought in a whopping $4,600! King is thought to be the first Iditarod Champion (and certainly IS the only 4-time Champion) auctioned off at the event. Known as one of the larger than life mushers, it should come as no surprise that Jeff was up for something like this. But it was still amusing to read. Much better than the articles showing the mushing community up in arms.

And, just today, Monica Zappa took to Facebook to announce that the 2018 Iditarod will be her last "for a while" as she needs to go off on new adventures. Iditarod will be far less colorful without her neon colors out on the trail. So when you see her run down the trail this March, cheer extra hard for her!

Speaking of Facebook - my favorites on the social media round up:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Hopefully that little earworm is making its happy little home in your head right now. It's been stuck in mine for months. Why? Because I made the decision early this year that I would attend the 2018 US Figure Skating National Championships hosted this year in San Jose, CA.

I know, you're confused. For over five years, this blog has been mainly mushing/Iditarod news and Alaska photography. I've not given up on my second favorite sport, I just haven't followed as I used to (thanks to NBC having the two worst commentators EVER on the mics these days). Niche sports are hard to follow, and others follow skating better, so I focus on mushing.

But! Instead of sitting on my butt all weekend refreshing the GPS tracker for the first race of the season in January, I'll be sitting in an arena hanging out with friends and cheering on the skaters trying to make Team USA. I haven't been to a championship (or any skating event) in ten years! I haven't seen some of my friends in ten years. I cannot WAIT for this trip!

While I'll really only be there for the senior skating events (the championship begins in December, but I just couldn't swing that), I'll be gone from January 1-13 (of course if I'm in California I've gotta visit Disney, too!). I'm working on itineraries and everything. I'm so out of the loop as to what these competitions are like. Waiting for the practice schedule to come out. Have we always had to wait this late for info?! Ugh!

But so far, here's what I have.

January 1, 2018
Drive up to Anchorage @ 8:00am

January 2, 2018
Fly out @ 6:45am
Land in Seattle @ 11:21am (10:21am AKST)
Leave Seattle @ 1:00pm (Noon AKST)
Land in San Jose @ 3:14pm (2:14pm AKST)

*Possibly attending the Junior Ladies Free Skate @ 7:15pm (6:15pm AKST)

January 3, 2018
Junior Men Free Skate @ 10:15am (9:15am AKST)
Senior Ladies Short Probram @ 6:00pm (5:00pm AKST)

January 4, 2018
Junior Free Dance @ 10:00am (9:00am AKST)
Senior Pairs Short Program @ 12:50pm (11:50am AKST)
Senior Men Short Program @ 5:30pm (4:30pm AKST)

January 5, 2018
Senior Ice Dance Short Dance @ 1:10pm (12:10pm AKST)
Senior Ladies Free Skate @ 3:45pm (2:45pm AKST)

January 6, 2018
Senior Pairs Free Skate @ 11:45am (10:45am AKST)
Senior Mens Free Skate @ 3:45pm (2:45pm AKST)

January 7, 2018
Senior Ice Dance Free Dance @ 12:30pm (11:30am AKST)
Fly out @ 7:07pm (6:06pm AKST)

My hotel is supposed to have wifi, so maybe I'll check in... but we all know I most likely won't blog much - so follow me on twitter for anything I might say about the competition (if you're so inclined).

Friday, December 1, 2017

Iditarod Roster Set for 2018

The sun shines on the Iditarod Finish Line, March 2017.
With the deadline to enter ending today, the Iditarod roster is officially set. There could still be a few names added so long as their applications are postmarked prior to the deadline - or special circumstances where veteran mushers can sign up past the deadline as what happened in 2017. As it stands, 69 teams will run the trail to Nome in March with four past champions in the mix. Five previous champions signed up originally, but four-time champion Dallas Seavey announced in October he would not run in the 2018 Iditarod. Seavey's father, three-time and reigning Iditarod Champion, Mitch Seavey still plans to run this coming March. Four-time Champions Martin Buser and Jeff King, and 2011 Iditarod Champion John Baker also plan to run.

Sixteen rookies are set to run the 46th running of the Last Great Race, leaving a large list of 53 veterans. Familiar names and fan favorites dot the list including late entries of Hugh Neff, and previously retired-from-Iditarod Kelly Maixner. Wade Marrs, who took a commanding lead for much of last year's Iditarod, is once again looking to set the pace. Aliy Zirkle and Jessie Royer are looking to be that first woman champion in over 2 decades to win, as DeeDee Jonrowe looks to make 2018 her Swan Song.

Other happy returns on the list include fan favorite Rob Cooke, Seward musher Travis Beals, and Army Veteran Steve Watkins. Watkins last run to Nome was in 2014, and he then went on to attempt to climb Mt Everest only to be caught in the major Earthquake while at basecamp! Apparently when not planning to run the Iditarod this year, he's been running for US Congress! It takes all kinds to create this one of a kind monster of a race.

While things looked a little bleak a month and a half ago, it seems a lot of frustration and anger has died down and most mushers who were backing Dallas are now content to run the race. Dallas Seavey, on the other hand, was true to his word that he would not run the race, and has instead opted to run a prestigious race in Finnmark. The race takes place the same week as the Iditarod, and other well known Alaskan mushers have participated in the past. Lance Mackey ran it a year ago and reportedly did well, and Hugh Neff has also visited the race in the past.

Also remaining off the roster is Paul Gebhardt. Gebhardt announced last month that he would not be racing this season as he is currently battling cancer. Gebhardt once again took to social media this morning to report that due to his ability to not have to take a week off in between cancer treatments, the dates have been moved up for when he will head down to Seattle for his stem cell transplant. Paul and his daughter will be in Seattle for a month after his treatment to be sure everything takes and that he is safer from infection and illness. They will essentially be in quarantine for 6 weeks. Paul will travel, now, at the end of December. The GoFundMe page is still up and accepting donations, it sits roughly around 50% of their overall goal.

Also on the Iditarod Trail Committee's plate, are plans to revamp the dog care requirements for mushers and their kennels. The Anchorage Daily News reported tonight that come 2019 there will be a "Best Dog Care" rule. The ITC says this is not a response to any accusation or misconduct, that it's been in the works for a long time and they are finally ready to move forward with implementation. This will most likely affect the newer kennels more than well established and successful kennels. This should come as no surprise as to be successful in this sport, dogs must come first at all times, not just when the cameras are on.

Who are you most excited to see on this year's roster? Tell me in the comments below!