Kaduce wins YQ200; weather weighs in on racing

The fields in both the Yukon Quest 350 and Yukon Quest 200 spread out considerably on Feb. 6, and stormy weather on Eagle Summit left a number of teams to wait out an impassable trail overnight into Feb. 7 near the back of the pack.

For those teams that made it through Eagle Summit earlier in the day, however, a lot of ground was covered yesterday.

By 11:15 a.m. local time on Feb. 6, four YQ350 mushers had reached the Central checkpoint for the first time, including Matt Hall, Brent Sass, Deke Naaktgeboren, and Cody Strathe.

It was in Central that Strathe elected to scratch from the race as a precaution due to his surgically-repaired shoulder.

Jennifer LaBar also made it over Eagle Summit and into Central before the trail conditions worsened significantly.

Rob Cooke reached the Mile 101 checkpoint midday on Feb. 6, and after leaving for Central that evening was forced to turn back when officials held mushers overnight until conditions improved. Cooke decided to scratch at Mile 101 as his dog truck was having issues.

He did, however, speak to Yukon Sports Report before scratching about how his team had been performing.

“The dogs are good,” Cooke said. “I’m dropping at least one here, maybe two.”

And as for Rosebud Summit, Cooke was happy with how that went too.

“They got up there really well. I thought it was going to be really windy on top but it wasn’t. It was blowing – it was blowing the track in at places – but they did really well getting up there, it’s just a long slow trail.”

Sass, Hall, Naaktgeboren, and LaBar all completed the loop past Central and began the return leg to Fairbanks for the finish.

As of noon on Feb. 7, both Sass and Hall have already passed the Mile 101 checkpoint headed to the finish, with Sass in the lead, and Naaktgeboren is resting at Mile 101 and LaBar is at Central headed toward Fairbanks.

Misha Wiljes returned to Mile 101 after leaving for Eagle Summit and elected to scratch.

Dan Kaduce wins YQ200

Crossing the finish line in Central at 4:23 a.m. on Feb. 7, Dan Kaduce won the 2022 Yukon Quest 200. Kaduce had been the first YQ200 musher into the Two Rivers checkpoint and was setting the pace the rest of the way.

Second place went to Dylan Robins who arrived at 6:40 a.m., third place went to Shaynee Traska who finished at 7:17 a.m. and fourth was Amanda Otto close behind at 7:24 a.m.

Simon Mettler finished fifth at 11:11 a.m.

Like the YQ350 mushers, portions of the field were waylaid at Mile 101 by bad weather yesterday, including Carcross’s Connor McMahon.

The rookie had an interesting initiation to Rosebud Summit, losing his sled brakes along the way.

“We didn’t make it through Rosebud unscatched,” McMahon said. “It’s definitely no fish story – it’s one hell of a hill. I’m happy and proud of the dogs that made it through.”

McMahon had to drop a number of dogs in Mile 101 with sore shoulders, but was able to wait out the weather and ultimately reached the Central checkpoint at 9:03 a.m. on Feb. 7.

McMahon was one of a number of mushers including Justin Olnes, D.J. Starr, Matt Sprau and Yuka Honda to have their mandatory rest at Central reduced to four hours due to the extensive rest at Mile 101.

Honda spoke to Yukon Sports Report at the Mile 101 checkpoint, explaining she and her team were using the race for training miles.

“This year my truck broke the end of October, so they didn’t get much mileage in,” Honda said. “That’s why I’m using this race for training; I’m not ‘racing’ it.”

She said her team did a good job getting over Rosebud and that with her pace and rest schedule, she was confident in her team.

As of noon on Feb. 7, Lauro Eklund had also finished while Sprau, Starr, McMahon, Honda, and Olnes are resting in Central.

Mile 101 checkpoint photos