A way-too-early preview of the 2022 Yukon Quest

One of the most notable impacts of COVID-19 on the Yukon’s sporting calendar was the cancellation of the 2021 Yukon Quest, and subsequent creation of the Yukon Journey last winter by the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon and the running of the Summit Quest in Alaska by the Yukon Quest organization.

While 2022 will not be a return to the typical 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometre) and 300-mile (480-km) races, the good news for mushers and fans is that there will be Quest races on both sides of the border. In a release issued June 11, the Yukon Quest International Association announced that two races would be run separately with later details indicating two races of different lengths in each jurisdiction.

In February 2022, mushers will have the option of racing either 100 miles (160 km) or 300 miles in the Yukon, and either 200 miles (320 km) or 550 miles (885 km) in Alaska.

Per the Quest’s social media accounts, the YQ550 is set to begin Feb. 5, 2022, in Tok, Alaska, with the YQ200 scheduled for Feb. 7, 2022, in Circle, Alaska, while both the YQ100 and YQ300 are scheduled to start Feb. 19, 2022, in Whitehorse.

As of sign up day on Aug. 21, both the YQ300 and YQ550 have a guaranteed minimum purse of $35,000 each. The YQ100 has a guaranteed minimum purse of $5,000 and the YQ200 will have a purse “based on entry fees.”

New this year is the Yukon Quest 2022 Cup, with a guaranteed minimum purse of $5,000 open to mushers to complete a race in both Alaska and the Yukon.

Fields for the races have already begun to take shape, with eight mushers signed up for the YQ100, one registered for the YQ200, six registered for the YQ300, and nine registered for the YQ550.

The YQ550 field features a number of previous 1,000-mile finishers, including three-time Yukon Quest winner Brent Sass and 10 Mile’s Michelle Phillips.

In the YQ300, Phillips and Sass will race against – among others – Quest veterans Ed Hopkins and Jerry Joinson and the 2021 Percy DeWolfe winner Connor McMahon.

The YQ100 field is headlined by Quest veteran Nathaniel Hamlyn, and the lone musher signed up for the YQ200 is another Quest veteran, Yuka Honda.

As of Sept. 1, 2021, Phillips and Sass are the only two mushers listed who meet the criteria for the Yukon Quest 2022 Cup.

The new format is a reflection of more than 100 survey results received by organizers, with the idea of providing racing opportunities for mushers while taking into account the financial and logistical hardships brought by the pandemic which made a 1,000-mile race unfeasible for many potential racers.

Organizers have publicly stated on social media that the hope is to return to a more traditional 1,000-mile and 300-mile format for 2023.

YQ100 Yukon mushers

  • Lori Tweddell
  • Louve Tweddell
  • Ilana Kingsley
  • Magnus Kaltenborn
  • Rita Antoniak
  • Jonathan Alsberghe
  • Katerine Lapointe
  • Nathaniel Hamlyn

YQ300 Yukon mushers

  • Craig Houghton
  • Michelle Phillips
  • Connor McMahon
  • Jerry Joinson
  • Ed Hopkins
  • Brent Sass

YQ200 Alaska mushers

  • Yuka Honda

YQ550 Alaska

  • Chase Tingle
  • Misha Wiljes
  • Lauro Eklund
  • Michelle Phillips
  • JJ Levy
  • Lisbet Norris
  • Annie Dargan
  • Brent Sass
  • Jessie Holmes