Blizzard cuts short IPSSSDR in Pinedale
Monte Skinner was out on the race course manning fence for the musher's road crossing on Hwy 352. He captured the wall of the storm front as it swallowed the valley in a blizzard Monday afternoon.
Hwy 352 white out
This was the view driving on Hwy 352 Monday afternoon during the blizzard. The race course is off on the right, paralleling the road. (Can you see the white Volkswagon just ahead of the photographer's vehicle?) Winds gusted to 60 miles per hour making it impossible to see in any direction.
Pinedale Finish Line
This was the view at the Pinedale Finish Line waiting for the teams to come in. Eventually word got to those waiting that the race had been called for safety reasons. Team support vehicles headed up to pick up the teams, which were stopped at the Bootjack ranch on the Cora highway.
US 191 road view Monday
This was the view of US 191 at the Cora Y Hwy 352 junction on Monday during the race, as seen by the WYDOT webcam.
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
January 28, 2008
A fast-moving Wyoming blizzard caused race officials to abort the Pinedale Stage Stop mid-race before the teams were able to reach the Finish Line in Pinedale.
“We had to stomp the race 2/3 of the way through,” said IPSSSDR Director Frank Teasley.
The Pinedale stage is Day 3 for the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race (IPSSSDR), which began in Jackson on January 25th and ends in Park City, Utah, on February 2nd. Nineteen teams are competing for the $10,000 First Place purse.
The course from the Upper Green to Pinedale is 33 miles. The race was delayed from the beginning, but looked like it was going to be run in nice weather with blue skies and relatively warm temperatures. All that changed in the space of about 10 minutes as a surprise Wyoming blizzard descended from the north turning the scene into a total white-out with gale-force winds.
Due to the extreme weather, race officials called the race 18 miles in because of the dangerous conditions for racers, support personnel and spectators.
“We had 60 miles per hour winds and white out conditions. We couldn’t grant a safe race,” said Teasley. The storm hit so fast, and conditions were so blinding, it was impossible to see the race course or to safely travel the roads.
A powerful cold front pushed a mass of moist air through the area midday with 55-mile per hour averages and gusts to 75 mph. Speeds to 60 mph were recorded at 8500 feet and the valley floor also experienced strong winds. Temperatures dropped through the day with 17 degrees in the morning at 10,000 feet dropping to below zero by early afternoon with frontal passage.
The race was terminated at the Bootjack Ranch on Hwy 352, north of Cora. "It was like being in a wind tunnel. People were standing sideways. I had to make a decision in about three minutes," Teasley said.
The unusual turn of events was a first in IPSSSDR history. "I’m not always Mr. Popular on the race," Teasley said of his Race Director role. "But today, I think people are pretty happy."
Racer’s time was counted up to that point in the race to determine a winner for the day. Wendy Davis from Lander, Wyoming had the fastest time. Melanie Shirilla from Lincoln, Montana was second, and Sam Perrino from Yellowknife Northwest Territories, Canada, was third. In overall times, Davis leads, Shirilla is second, and Jacques Philip from Nenana, Alaska is third.
Racers continued on to Big Piney/Marbleton for the next stage of the race, which takes place Tuesday morning. Big Piney and Marbleton jointly host “The Ice Box of the Nation’s Sled Dog Celebration” Monday night featuring a Dutch Oven Pot Luck Supper. The Waggers 4-H Club host the “Let Your K9 Shine” Dog Show. Jackson jazz band, Global Review, is travelling with the IPSSSDR playing live music for the musher receptions. Tuesday morning, racers take off from Middle Piney parking lot for the 54-mile loop race for the Big Piney/Marbleton stage. From there, the race travels to Alpine, Kemmerer, Evanston, Mountain View/Lyman, and ending in Park City, Utah.
The 2008 IPSSSDR takes place from January 25 - February 2. With its unique "stage stop" racing format, the IPSSSDR stops in a different community each night, allowing host towns to show their hospitality.
The International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race was founded in 1996 by Frank Teasley to make sled dog racing more accessible to the public.
For more information, visit the race at http://www.wyomingstagestop.org, contact the race via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone at (307) 734-1163.
Photos by Monte Skinner, and Clint Gilchrist and Dawn Ballou of Pinedale Online!