Buddy Streeper’s bid to sweep this year’s major titles in sprint mushing got off to a good start Friday in balmy Fairbanks.
With the sun shining and temperatures in the low 40s, Streeper and his team of 16 dogs seized the first-day lead in the Open North American Championship. They covered the 20.3-mile course in 68 minutes, 40.5 seconds.
Streeper was 96 seconds faster than the No. 2 musher, Anny Malo of Saint Zenon, Quebec. Malo is a North American rookie but a proven competitor — she won this year’s Wyoming Stage Stop race.
Streeper, of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, is coming off a convincing win in last month’s Open World Championship Sled Dog Race at Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage.
He has won the Fur Rondy race seven times, and now he’s chasing his sixth Open North American title and his fourth in five years. Only three other mushers have won more titles in the 74-year history of the North American — Egil Ellis (12), George Attla (9) and Roland Lombard (6).
Action continues Saturday and Sunday at the Jeff Studdert Race Grounds in Fairbanks. Eighteen mushers are competing, eight of them from Canada.
Friday’s top 5
1) Buddy Streeper, Fort Nelson, British Columbia, 65:40.5.
2) Anny Malo, Saint Zenon, Quebec, 67:16.7.
3) Ricky Taylor, Fairbanks, 67:42.6
4) Lina Streeper, Fort Nelson, British Columbia, 68:01.2
5) Ken Chezik, Fife, Michigan, 68:04.9.