- Nicolas Petit says dogs stopped after he shouted at them
- Petit also lost lead last year after getting lost in blizzard
Musher Nicolas Petit lost a huge lead in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Monday when his dog team refused to keep going after he yelled at one of the animals. A dog named Joey had been fighting with a younger dog on the team during a break on the way to the Bering Sea checkpoint of Koyuk when Petit stepped in.
“Joey was behind him, and he’s been kind of picking on him most of the trip, and he got a hold of him at one point … I yelled at Joey, and everybody heard the yelling, and that doesn’t happen,” Petit told the Iditarod Insider website. “And then they wouldn’t go anymore. Anywhere. So we camped here.”
Several mushers passed Petit’s team on the trail, erasing his five-hour lead in the race. Pete Kaiser of Alaska was the first musher into Koyuk, followed 11 minutes later by defending champion Joar Ulsom of Norway. The checkpoint is 827 miles into the 1,000-mile race across Alaska.
Petit said his dogs are well-fed and there’s no medical issue keeping them from getting up and running. “It’s just a head thing,” he said. “We’ll see if one of these dog teams coming by will wake them up at all.”
For Petit, it’s another bad memory from the stretch between the Shaktoolik and Koyuk checkpoints. He was in command of last year’s race when he got off trail during a blizzard and lost the lead. He wound up finishing second behind Ulsom. “Something about right here, huh?” he said.
The race started on 2 March in Willow, just north of Anchorage. The course through the Alaska wilderness took mushers over two mountain ranges and the frozen Yukon River before they reached the Bering Sea coast. The winner is expected to come off the sea ice and mush down Nome’s main street to the finish line sometime in the middle of the week.