Commentary by Jerry Bath
With only two days left, it’s time to kick any problems you have to the curb and play your best hand.
Here’s what I see: mostly sunny with only -2 deg F and warming to the 20,s by finish time — it’s almost perfect weather. However, the sun at these altitudes still can affect many dogs not accustomed to it. We will be running next to the Grays River for part of the course; that helps keep the temperature a little lower than the staging-starting line.
Anny commands an 18-minute lead but one little slip up and Lina will undoubtably capitalize. In truth the same can be said all the way down the line. No one is out of the woods on placing up or down in the overall.
Dave Torgerson running Streeper’s B team has been gaining momentum although JR and Hans are some the most formidable competitors that I know. Alix, Fearless Austin Forney, Rachel Courtney and Bruce are all seasoned veterans and I’m sure are laying it all out today.
There are still several top competitors who can, and probably will, try making a move before we head to Driggs, Idaho tomorrow. The Alpine Stage is a relatively rolling trail compared to tomorrow’s hills that have been known to be a breaking point for many teams in either direction.
The questions I will pose to a few mushers before the start: “Do you still have all 14 dogs? Is your strength in flats or hills? Are you conservative and are you satisfied with your overall position and playing the “protection game” or is it “rolling the dice” time putting it all out and playing your hand? Get ready for undoubtedly heavy snow machine traffic on the trail today. That will be different than all the previous states combined.
For myself? Not knowing the personal situations of each team, I’d tell all the mushers today, “Roll the dice! You’ve trained and you’re prepared. It’s now or never, the final push. Did you come here to race? It’s time!”