Drama and Boredom in the Middle of the Pack
Dawson City, YK - The Yukon Quest stages the Dawson city checkpoint in the old Alaska Trading Company building. It’s now the visitor center. People trickled in and out of the building all day Wednesday as dog teams from the middle of the pack pulled in. KUAC’s Emily Schwing caught up with some of those mushers to find out what’s happening on the trail, midway through the race.
Normand Casavant pulled into the Dawson City Checkpoint with a broad smile on his face. “You’re gonna have a nice story!” he laughed. The boisterous and almost always smiling French Canadian had had trouble with his dog team since he arrived in Carmacks. Then, when he left Pelly Crossing, he had to turn around to drop a limping dog. Shortly after he got back on the trail, another dog developed a limp. “You know, sometimes the mushers, we have some problems with our emotions, so I didn’t control my emotions. I just thought ‘Oh, the race is over, the race is kaputt for me, so I better scratch.’” Casavant sent word with a photographer that he was turning around a second time. He was planning to scratch. As he drove his team alongside a road near the checkpoint, a truck pulled up and fellow musher from Whitehorse jumped out. It was Didier Moggia. Moggia has attempted the Quest three times and never finished. Casavant says it’s no secret in his social circle the two don’t get along. “He came beside me and he said , you know Normand, you’re not my favorite, but you can’t scratch, don’t scratch, Normand. And he really helped me to change my mind and believe me was the water and the fire and I think after that, life is beautiful. I did a hug and I win! I win something today!” explained Casavant.
Casavant signed into the checkpoint and broke into a happy song for his dog team.
Rookie Markus Ingebretsen has had a far less dramatic run from Whitehorse. He `came into Dawson with all 14 dogs on the line. “Hopefully I will leave with all fourteen too so we can have some power down the trail," said Ingebretsen. He hasn’t dropped any dogs, but somewhere along the way, the Norwegian did drop a mitten. “So I had 200 miles with one glove. And that was fun. I was driving with one hand in the pocket," he laughed and rolled his eyes.
A frosty musher, wearing a red parka and a smile slid into the chute in the early evening. It was veteran musher Crispin Studer. Unfortunately, he had no trail stories to share. “It’s been really boring. Like nothing special happened. Nothing bad, nothing good, nothing extremely good, just an average run," said the Swiss musher. He's from Carcross, Yukon. He says he’s had plenty of rest and it showed as 12 trotting dogs pulled his sled through the chute. Studer says his dogs have had a few shoulder issues and some writs soreness, but he’s been able to work with them. Unfortunately his dogs don’t like it when he eats without them, so he came into the checkpoint pretty hungry. “I haven’t eaten in like 12 hours," he laughed. "The dogs always want to stop as soon as I take a snack out so I decided not to eat.”
The famished musher is clearly isn’t a picky eater. When asked what he'd like to eat most, he replied with a strange request. “A pound of butter! Just something fat!” The crowd gathered around laughed.
Studer will have plenty of time to find something to eat and rest up his dogs for the second half of the race. Race officials extended the mandatory 36 hour layover by four hours.