Who to watch in the 2017 Pedigree Stage Stop Race
by Jake Berkowitz, Pedigree Stage Stop Race
January 28, 2017
JACKSON, WYOMING Friday, January 27, 2017 - The 2017 Pedigree Stage Stop Race is well underway. Mushers have taken over Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the ski…bums have been replaced with hundreds of four legged creatures. The mandatory veterinary checks were completed this morning in which nearly a dozen dedicated veterinarians endured the -15 temps and examined each individual dog getting ready to compete in this year’s race. After a short break to enjoy some of the amazing cuisine that Jackson Hole has to offer, the Mushers converged at the Antler Motel where the mandatory musher meeting was completed. Currently mushers are arriving in the Town Square of Jackson Hole getting ready for the start of the race!
It was during this vet check that I was able to meet up and talk with all the mushers and chat about who they thought the competition was, as well as what sets their team apart from their competitors and areas that they would have liked to do differently leading into this race. During these conversations 2 teams stood out as having the confidence, experience, and the attitude to become the next Champion, Lina Streeper and JR Anderson. John Baker, 2011 Iditarod Champion, once told me that you can never think that you are not going to win – the second you start thinking that you might not win is the point that you start losing. Both Streeper and Anderson didn’t balk when I questioned who was going to win this race, they both instantly chose themselves. When asked what areas they could have improved on coming into this race neither competitor could think of anything. This type of confidence could come off to some as arrogance, but when you have a kennel that has had 6 wins out of the last 7 years as the Streepers have done and when you have been consistently knocking on the door as Anderson has, their confidence is nothing else but just confidence. Streeper’s B Team driver, Dave Torgerson, was absent from the Vet Checks so I was unable to speak with him, but as the Streeper Kennel has shown in the past the jockey standing behind their second team seems to make very little difference.
So, the question everyone wants to know, who are my picks for Top 3:
1. Lina Streeper
2. JR Anderson
3. Dave Torgerson
Other teams to watch:
• Bruce Magnusson – always a top competitor, but Magnusson is coming to the race with a limited front end (dogs that are towards the front of the team that keep the team driving) which might leave Magnusson without that extra gear needed to compete for the championship
• Jerry Bath – consistently in the Top 5 and we are all waiting for Bath to break in to the Top 3 – perhaps this is his year
• Dennis Laboda – coming off back to back wins in the Copper Dog 150 (the most comparable race to the Stage Stop, although it is shorter, it does offer three 50 mile legs in Stage Racing format) it is hard to overlook the Laboda from Minnesota
The race officially begins at 6pm CST tonight where mushers race their dogs 2 miles through downtown Jackson Hole, starting at Town Square and ending at the base of Snow King Mountain (this leg does not get added into the overall times – the timed races begins tomorrow morning at 9am CST in Diggs, WY).
Stay tuned for updates and videos over the next 8 days – we will explore everything from: the dogs, to strategy, to terrain and everything in between.
Author: Jake Berkowitz was a long distance musher and one time Fur Rondy competitor. He has run both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod sled dog races. He won the Iditarod Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian award in 2013, and after finishing fourth in the 2012 Yukon Quest he was named Rookie Of The Year.
Source: www.wyomingstagestop.org Pedigree Stage Stop Race
2017 PEDIGREE ® Stage Stop Sled Dog Race Schedule
Friday, Jan 27th - Jackson, Wyoming – Opening Ceremonies & Race Start
Saturday, Jan 28th – Driggs, Idaho – Stage 2
Sunday, Jan 29th – Alpine, Wyoming –Stage 3
Monday, Jan 30th off Day
Tuesday, Jan 31st – Lander, Wyoming – Stage 4
Wednesday, Feb 1st – Pinedale, Wyoming – Stage 5
Thursday, Feb 2nd - Big Piney/Marbleton, Wyoming – Stage 6
Friday, Feb 3rd - Kemmerer, Wyoming – Stage 7
Saturday, Feb 4th - Uinta County, Wyoming – Stage 8 & Awards Ceremony