SUBLETTE COUNTY – It snowed high in the mountains – just enough and just in time – to cushion the trails for the 26th annual Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race stages at both ends of the county.
The order was changed slightly this year with Pinedale as Stage 2 on Jan. 31 and Big Piney-Marbleton’s Stage 4 on Feb. 2, with Kemmerer in between.
A roster of 24 teams traveled to Wyoming to compete in seven 30-plus-mile stages with their eyes on winning a share of the $165,000 purse. COVID was a grave concern and rules were set up in advance for mushers and handlers who might contract the disease. Community events were canceled and spectators were discouraged due to COVID concerns – many mushers, dog handlers and race staff wore facemasks or gaiters.
The 35-mile Pinedale stage started out with a cold 10 degrees and fast snow, which helped Anny Malo, winner in 2020 and 2019, edge out leader Lina Streeper, winner in 2017 and 2018. They, like many of the mushers, are from Canada but Sublette County’s own Alix Crittenden of Bondurant has lots of hometown fans. Like horse racers, excellent mushers and dogs jockey for the best positions. Two are JR Anderson and Érick Laforce.
Late snowfall helped keep Tuesday’s Big Piney-Marbleton 35-mile stage on track from the Middle Piney parking lot, where sunshine promised warmer weather and slower snow. Malo also won this stage, followed by Lina Streeper with the two men on their heels.
Although spectators were few, they too followed social distancing and wore facemasks and wore big smiles watching the dogs’ excitement as they yelped, howled and leaped through the snow.
To keep up with daily results of the 2021 Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race, visit wyomingstagestop.org or the Facebook page.