Sass makes it 6 as Yukon Quest victory aims him at Iditarod

Brent Sass
Six-time Yukon Quest victor Brent Sass poses with his lead dogs, Slater (left) and Ace. (Dan Bross/KUAC)

Eureka musher Brent Sass and his 14-dog team won the Yukon Quest 300 Monday morning in Central. Sass’s dominating performance in his sixth Quest victory has him optimistic about next month’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

“My confidence level went up quite a bit in the last 48 hours and having all 14 of them here, I’m real excited about it,” he said.

Sass crossed the Quest 300 finish line in Central shortly before 10 a.m. Monday. This year’s race runs from Fairbanks to Central and Circle, and then back to Central. Sass completed the race in just under two days, without dropping a dog.

“I mean, they’re tired,” Sass said. “They just ran 300 miles in 47 hours or whatever, but I had 14 dogs pulling hard the whole way – so that’s all you can ask for.”

The weather for this year’s Quest has been on the cold side with low temperatures from 30 to 50 degrees below zero, but Sass said it didn’t affect him too much.

“I never really got cold – I froze my finger once, but I stayed warm the whole time,” he said. “I did a lot of kicking and ski poling, mainly just to keep myself warm. These guys had plenty of power.”

Sass highlighted his lead dogs, Slater and Ace.

“Ace is the apprentice to Slater,” he said. “Slater is an 8-year-old; he’s like my main man. And Ace is the up-and-coming super star, so they both lead the whole way. It was awesome.”

Sass said he maximized the dogs’ power with a new superlight sled.

“It was literally the first run I did was when I left the start chute, so I never even test-drove it,” he said. “It came fresh off the plane from Austria two days ago, so it’s been great.”

Second-place musher Eddie Burke Jr. arrived late Monday afternoon, followed by Josi Thyr in third place.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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