Leaderboard shuffle as some teams take wrong trail during sled dog race

JACKSON, Wyo. — “Challenging but doable.” That’s what mushers were told this morning at the 8 a.m. pre-race meeting before hitting the trail in Kemmerer for the Pedigree Stage Stop Race.

The tough conditions did not bother race leader Anny Malo to a great degree. She again paced all teams with a 2:04:50 for the 34-mile leg out Hams Fork Trail. Lina Streeper was again hot on Malo’s tail, less than two minutes behind.

The surprise shuffle of the leaderboard came after Jeff Conn, who had been running 3rd, mistook a snowmobile track for the actual trail at about the 6-mile mark. By the time Conn corrected, he lost valuable time, finishing 21 minutes behind the race leader and dropped to 5th place in the cumulative standings.

Bruce Magnusson’s team made the same error. He fell two spots to 8th in the overall leaderboard.

“I was off-trail for 23 minutes trying to undo tangles and get ‘em back,” Magnusson said. “And I was soaked.

Streeper’s team also wrongly took the snowmachine track but she steered them back on course quickly.

Malo, who was last to leave the starting gate, did not fall into the fake trail. She credited her dogs for that one, even after she swapped out one of the lead dogs midway through her run.

“I have good leaders,” Malo said when asked how she did not also join the pitfall of following the tracks made by a group of four snowmobilers during the race. “My big red, I think he tried to breed a female last night and he was kind of tired.”

Alix Crittenden was the main beneficiary of the miscues. Another solid run with her young team lifted the Bondurant musher into 3rd overall. Word on the circuit is she has plenty left in her dogs so watch for her to close the gap soon.

Rachel Courtney is running a quiet 4th place right now, just seconds behind Crittenden. The native German has been racing dogs in her new home—Caliento, Manitoba, Canada since she relocated there in 2011.

Most teams left the starting line a full string of 10 dogs. Jeff Conn elected to run nine; Ben Barrett hooked up eight.

Maria Torgerson continues to impress. She is running a solid 7th place using an experienced team from Streeper Kennels. The daughter of Bruce Magnusson is showing savvy beyond her 17 years of age.

It’s off to Big Piney/Marbleton for another 35 miles on Tuesday.

Race leader Anny Malo conducts a post-race interview where she talked about turning in another strong run. Photo courtesy Wyoming Stage Stop Race


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