Sports

Buddy Streeper matches sprint mushing great Doc Lombard by winning his 8th Rondy title


Buddy Streeper added to the lore and legend of the Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship on Sunday, and he was left speechless in the process.

Streeper captured his eighth title to match the number of championships won by Roland “Doc” Lombard, Rondy’s second-winningest musher and one of sprint mushing’s great dog drivers.

Lombard and rival George Attla were the stars of Rondy in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Open World Championship was one of Alaska’s biggest sporting events. Attla is the king of Rondy with 10 championships.

Streeper, of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, capped a strong three-day effort with a speedy 25-mile run on the streets and trails of Anchorage on Sunday to overwhelm the competition.

After driving his team of 12 huskies across the Fourth Avenue finish line, Streeper spoke about matching Lombard’s eight victories.

“Oh wow, yeah, that’s incredible,” he said. “Those are the icons, those are the, uh, the, uh — I don’t have the words.

“Between him and Attla and Gareth Wright, those are the icons, they’re like the Mount Rushmore of sled dog racing. I don’t even know if I can put my name into the hat with Doc Lombard, but I’m really happy to have won this race and really thrilled to be here.”

Streeper and a lead dog named Elvis won their third straight championship on the strength of dominant runs in Friday’s and Sunday’s heats.

Streeper won Friday’s heat by more than two minutes and Sunday’s by more than three minutes. On Saturday, he had the second-best run, just 20 seconds off the top pace.

All of that added up to a three-day, 75-mile total time of 4 hours, 30 minutes, 4 seconds.

Streeper finished more than six minutes ahead of runner-up Greg Taylor of Fairbanks, a huge margin of victory in a three-day sprint race.

Taylor won Saturday’s heat and was second Sunday for his second runner-up finish; he also placed second to Streeper in the 2018 race. Third place went to rookie Mya Hartum of Tofield, Alberta.

The top three finishers show the ageless nature of sled dog racing. Streeper is 38, Taylor is 61 and Hartum is 18.

Taylor is part of a well-known mushing family that includes brother Ricky and their dad, Bill Taylor, who died in 2007.

He provides a direct link between past and present Rondy royalty. When Taylor made his Open World Championship debut in 1976, the field included Attla, who won the race, and Lombard.

Lombard was a veterinarian from Massachusetts who become the first non-Alaskan to win both the Open World Championship in Anchorage and the North American Open in Fairbanks, a race he won six times. Besides his championships, Lombard was known for impacting dog-care standards for Alaska’s sled dogs. He died in 1991.

Streeper was born in 1982, right about the time when Lombard’s career was winding down. He said his dad, Terry Streeper, and his uncle, two-time Rondy winner Eddie Streeper, both raced against Lombard.

“They would’ve been starting their careers right when he was finishing his,” Streeper said.

Overnight snow and a light snowfall during Sunday’s race made the trail softer and a little slower than it was for the first two heats, Taylor said.

“I liked it,” he said. “I just like a slow trail. It’s easier on the dogs.”

Hartum said the combination of new snow and temperatures in the 30s made her dogs work a little harder.

“But my dogs still pushed through at the end and brought me down the street at a good pace,” she said.

Hartum took a gap year between high school and college so she could spend the year training and running dogs. One of her main leaders is a dog named Vail, who came from Streeper’s kennel.

Hartum was one of 10 Rondy rookies in the race. Among them was four-time Yukon Quest champion Hans Gatt of Whitehorse, who moved up in the standings every day and wound up placing 13th among 21 finishers. A field of 26 started the race Friday.

Final results

1) Buddy Streeper, Fort Nelson, B.C., 4 hours, 30 minutes, 4 seconds(1:30:33 3rd day, 1:26:18 2nd day, 1:33:13 1st day)

2) Greg Taylor, Fairbanks, 4:36:35 (1:30:13, 1:29:27, 1:36:55

3) Mya Hartum (rookie), Tofield, Alberta, 4:39:54 (1:31:46, 1:30:59, 1:37:09)

4) Jeffrey Conn, Ester, 4:42:20 (1:32:26, 1:32:39, 1:37:15)

5) Alix Crittenden (rookie), Bondurant, Wyoming 4:44:01 (1:32:41, 1:33:12, 1:38:08)

6) Marvin Kokrine, North Pole, 4:44:30 (1:32:11, 1:29:54, 1:42:25)

7) Guy Girard, Quebec 4:44:56 (1:38:06, 1:29:51, 1:36:59)

8) Michael Tetzner, Burg, Germany, 4:45:02 (1:35:27, 1:31:45, 1:37:50)

9) Gary Markley, Salcha, 4:46:05 (1:35:23, 1:31:58, 1:38:44)

10) Don Cousins, Crooked Creek, Alberta, 4:46:22 (1:34:01, 1:31:42, 1:40:39)

11) Brent Beck, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, 4:52:16 (1:37:25, 1:34:22, 1:40:29)

12) Bruce Magnusson (rookie), Newberry, Michigan, 4:54:27 (1:37:12, 1:35:23, 1:41:52)

13) Hans Gatt (rookie), Whitehorse, 4:55:55 (1:35:45, 1:38:50, 1:41:20)

14) Armin Johnson, Whitehorse, 4:56:33 (1:38:16, 1:34:40, 1:43:37)

15) Wendy Callis, Fairbanks, 4:57:30 (1:37:18, 1:38:42, 1:41:30)

16) Rejean Therrien (rookie), St-Emile, Quebec, 5:02:28 (1:37:07, 1:37:01, 1:48:20)

17) Frank Habermann (rookie), Clam Gulch, 5:03:15 (1:40:13, 1:36:38, 1:46:24)

18) Eli Campbell (rookie), Fairbanks, 5:10:10 (1:39:10, 1:45:04, 1:45:56)

19) Danny Beck, Yellowknife, 5:10:51 (1:40:27, 1:37:37, 1:52:47)

20) Thad McCracken (rookie), Mosier, Oregon, 5:13:41 (1:44:07, 1:42:34, 1:47:00)

21) Todd Whitcomb, Wasilla, 5:29:22 (1:48:33, 1:47:24, 1:53:25)

Scratched -- Amy Dunlap, Salcha; Kourosh Partow, Chugiak; Lance Mackey, Fairbanks; Erick LaForce (rookie), Lanoraie, Quebec; Tony Blanford, Anchorage.

Rondy’s winningest mushers

George Attla, 10 (1958, 1962, 1968, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982)

Roland “Doc” Lombard, 8 (1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1974)

Buddy Streeper, 8 (2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2018, 2019, 2020)

Egil Ellis, 5 (1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2011)

Roxy Wright, 4 (1989, 1992, 1993, 2017)

Charlie Champaine, 4 (1984, 1988, 1990, 1991)

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