Analysis by Jake Robinson after Pinedale Stage 3

Hello Pedigree Stage Stop Race Fans,

we made it to Big Piney after a great Pinedale Stage. Luckily it was not as warm in Pinedale as it is here in Big Piney, a whopping 46F above!

Here is what Jake Robinson has to say about today’s stage. I will do a bit of number crunching too, after a much needed nap….

—Clash of the Titans—
Remy Coste rebounded after a difficult stage in Lander to win the Pinedale lap by a little over one minute, adding back time to his overall lead. He left the line with 8 dogs, presumably the team that he dominated the first stage with. Malo had an incredibly good run and appeared to be racing hard in a bid to retain the Yellow Bib. Coste’s strategy of utilizing his pool to rest an entire small but mighty team appears to be paying off, but Malo is indicating that she’s willing and able to run close to his pace and not let Coste make another huge move.
The race isn’t halfway over and we are entering into the most crucial days where every decision matters and small mistakes will quickly compound as teams run out of trail. My honest assessment is that both Remy Coste and Anny Malo have dog teams that COULD win this race, they appear to be physically matched in capability. The true battle will be in each musher racing one another. This has officially evolved beyond a dog race and into a thinking match, like a long form game of chess that can be impacted by dozens of external, uncontrollable variables (weather, trail, passes, etc.). The first musher to make a mistake will likely come out on the wrong end of this increasingly epic duel as they continue to trade blows over the next 4 stages of racing. The biggest factor will be in how Coste chooses to utilize his pool. Yesterday certainly didn’t go according to plan for the French musher. Will he choose to blend his two teams and cut the day-on-day-off rest cycle he’s established? Will he leave out the weak links from yesterday’s crew and go with an even shorter string? Malo has also been using her pool conservatively, only running 10 dogs per day out of the allowed 12. While not as aggressive as Coste’s strategy, she likely has a strong stable of rested dogs that are ready to compete at the highest level. Will she hook a full string and attempt to over power Coste’s fightin’ 8? Due to low snow, tomorrows stage will be held again in Pinedale, adding another wrinkle and strategic decision point in an already complex race. At this point, both competitors know the capability and strategy of each other’s dog team and run style. Who will play the right card (or more importantly, not play the wrong card) and chalk up a victory at the end of the week?
Some really interesting and exciting things are emerging in the “race within the race” further down the time sheet. Cathy Rivest put on a great run and moved into a solid third place in the daily and overall standings. Jess Moore is starting to find the ground beneath her feet and put on a smoking run just seconds behind Cathy for the day that moved her up significantly in the overall standings!! Laura Bontrager was slightly off the pace, but had a nice run and is still putting up time on the competitors behind her. Michael Tetzner had a tough day and will have to work hard to maintain his spot in the standings, as several teams from lower in the ranks appear to be figuring things out and will be trying to chase him down.
The Great Game is afoot at the Pedigree Stage Stop Race and we are setting up for one of the most exciting and hotly contested races in modern history. Coste is showing that he may have what it takes to change the game and turn everything we thought we knew on its head. Race strategies are beginning to emerge down the line and many teams will be making moves in the next two stages to have the stage set going in to the rest day.
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