Race Director: ‘That’s Iditarod’ as coastal storm could prove critical

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UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - A coastal storm between Shaktoolik and Koyuk may have changed the outcome of Iditarod XLVI after race leader Nicolas Petit appears to have taken the wrong trail.

“That’s Iditarod,” said race director, Mark Nordman. “At the witching hour, 3 o’clock in the morning, things get confusing.”

Nordman explained that the Iditarod Trail Committee’s trailbreakers had put lath out on the trail to direct the dog teams, but the conditions likely made visibility poor.

Nordman, a former Iditarod musher himself, explained how tough it is to navigate on the Bering Sea coast when a storm hits: “Anything from a telephone pole down to the ground you can see very little of.” He described that mushers can sometimes only see the first few dogs in front of their sled with their leaders effectively being invisible.

The race director explained another reason for the confusion may have been that ITC put a new trail in closer to the shore for the 2018 race due to the shifting nature of the sea ice.

[Ulsom passes Petit on the way to Koyuk]

Nordman said that it now appeared that race leaders Nicolas Petit, Mitch Seavey and Joar Ulsom are back on track. He said that we’ll have a better idea of what’s happening when the leaders all arrive in Koyuk, the next checkpoint in the race.

“The playing field has evened out now,” said Nordman as the three race leaders are neck-and-neck heading up the coast.

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