Defending champ Malo holding off Streeper after first 2 legs of Stage Stop Race

JACKSON, Wyo. — Grizzled mushers will all tell you, you can’t win the race on Day 1 but you sure can lose it. A poor start to Alpine puts a team at a disadvantage they’ll be chasing all week long. A strong start goes a long way in the confidence department.

Jeff Conn finished the 2019 race in 4th overall. After two legs this year, Conn sits in 3rd, well within striking distance of the leaders. Photo: Courtesy Wyoming Stage Stop

Day 1 in Alpine

Weather was perfect for the first leg of the race in Alpine Saturday. The Greys River track proved fast for most as six teams were able to run the same 28 miles faster this year than they did in 2019. Austin Forney was 7 minutes quicker this time around. Jeff Conn (6 mins.), Alix Crittenden (3 mins.) Rachel Courtney (2 mins.), and Bruce Magnusson (2 mins.) also bettered their 2019 times.

But it was defending champ Anny Malo who stole the show Saturday, turning in a blistering 1:43:59—five minutes quicker than last year. Malo, who averaged 16.2 mph, was more than 2 minutes faster than 2nd place finisher Lina Streeper. But Streeper is notorious for biding her time and saving her dogs for the second half of the race.

Day 2 in Pinedale

Results after first two stages.

Rolling hills and a stiff headwind slowed dogs down on Day 2 in Pinedale. Average mph were back down to earth ranging from about 12-14 mph instead of the previous day’s 14-16 mph.

Anny Malo again proved fastest for the day, finishing the 34-mile course in 2:22:46, more than two minutes quicker than 2nd place Lina Streeper’s 2:24:23. That gives Malo the overall lead by almost 4 minutes. Jeff Conn, Rachel Courtney, and Alix Crittenden round out the top 5, with Bruce Magnusson just a second back of the pack in 6th.

Something to keep an eye on: Both Streeper and Conn dropped dogs along the way. All teams started with 10 dogs but Streeper finished with 8, Conn with 9.

It’s on to Kemmerer for Stage 3 of the race on Monday. Conditions are expected to be quite snowy for this leg.

Alix Crittenden hunkers down out of the wind during a segment of the Pinedale leg Sunday. Video: Courtesy Wyoming Stage Stop

You May Also Like
Pedigree Stage Stop Race still planning for a 2021 event
Mighty Malo wins, but so does the sport
Femme Five: It’s Malo’s to lose as ladies take center stage in musher match
Malo answers Streeper’s push with dominating run in Lander
Yellow bib changes sleds as Streeper turns up the heat on Malo
Leaderboard shuffle as some teams take wrong trail during sled dog race