Sunday, February 10, 2019

Yukon Quest - A Trail to Redemption?

Having camped on the trail somewhere outside Central (possibly Medicine Lake), Brent Sass blew through the checkpoint and mushed onward, apparently marching straight over the notorious Eagle Summit to Mile-101. Brent still has all 14 dogs on his gangline. Allen Moore, in second place, is just now (10:30 AM) 6 miles out of Central, where Hans Gatt and Michelle Phillips are still resting their teams.

I believe this move has placed Brent Sass firmly in the cat-bird seat. He can care for his dogs and perhaps get some much-needed sleep and simply take off when Allen arrives. Another option is to mush on toward Rosebud Summit and the Two Rivers checkpoint where he is required to take a mandatory 8-hour layover. Either way, I don't see any way that Allen can pass him short of a major miship out on the trail.

Brent's last few races can best be described as disastrous. In the 2016 Iditarod his overly tired team refused to leave the White Mountain checkpoint, forcing him to drop from 2nd to 20th place. In the 2017 Yukon Quest, Brent punched the "help" button on his Spot Tracker when two of his dogs collapsed en route to the Central checkpoint. As a result of those, and perhaps other less well-known events, Brent has a reputation for working his dogs beyond their natural capacity. Winning this year's Quest with a full team of 14 dogs would go far toward restoring his good name and reputation on the trails.

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