Sunday, February 2, 2014
John Schandelmeier is no stranger to the Yukon Quest trail. A two-time champion, Schandelmeier has finished the race 16 times.
Needless to say, he wasn’t displaying any signs of nervousness as he set off from downtown Fairbanks Saturday. He wasn’t worried about the recent warm weather wreaking havoc on the trail, although he spoke about the difficulty of Eagle Summit when the snowpack is hard.
“If there’s no soft snow, it could be difficult coming off the back side.”
Schandelmeier made it over the summit with seeming ease, arriving in Central at 12:27 this afternoon, three and a half hours after leaving Mile 101. He also had all 14 dogs with him, which is his main goal this year.
“I would love to get all 14 of them to Whitehorse. I’ve gotten my whole team to Whitehorse three times in the past, and got them to the last checkpoint three other times. I hope I can do right by them.”
Schandelmeier and his wife, Zoya, rescue rehabilitation dogs, and have been doing so since the late 1990s. After winning the Yukon Quest in 1992 and 1996, Schandelmeier says his results started falling when he raced rescue dogs – but insists it wasn’t their fault.
“I feel it wasn’t a product of the dogs. It was a product of my lack of training ability. I feel like I’ve learned something about dog training now. I feel I can do a little better by them. It isn’t the dog himself, it’s how he’s handled.”
The team has mostly been training together since September, although there were a couple of recent adds. While he doesn’t expect them to win the race, he describes them as a very nice, smooth team.
“Certain dog teams perform well on different types of terrain. This team, I think will give me their best performance between Dawson and Pelly.”
Schandelmeier is happy to be back on the Yukon Quest trail after a six-year absence. He says the trail format of the race lets you get your dogs into a routine or rhythm that you can’t do in other races.
“I think for a dog, that bodes quite well.”
Schandelmeier left Central – with all 14 dogs leading the way – Sunday evening en route to Circle. He was in 7th position. He believes defending champion Allen Moore is still the man to beat.
“Allen has a real nice dog team. Who’s going to challenge him? I don’t know.”
Article shared from the Yukon Quest website