After trying for 20 years, Jean-Phillipe Lacasse of Gaspe Quebec won the 10 dog Saskatchewan Challenge race at the Prince Albert Winter Festival.
Lacasse credited an improved final run on Sunday for the victory, after a less than perfect performance the day before. Regardless of how it happened, Lacasse said he was just happy to win.
“It was my first time winning the race in 20 years. It was not my plan before coming here and I am very happy to win,” he said. “My family and my friends they texted me yesterday night ‘I would like to see you finish in the top one tomorrow’ and it was so nice.”
Lacasse raised his arms in excitement as he crossed the finish line. He said he made some adjustments with his dog Slam on Sunday that helped with the improved performance.
‘My leader, I put at left, (and) right (dog) at left,” he explained. “I switch the leader for today. Yesterday we run all of the time in the centre in the soft trail.”
He also gave all of the credit to Slam.
“This one is very good. I think this is my best dog ever,” he said.
Lacasse has been traveling the west to race this winter. Last weekend he was in The Pas, Man. where he finished second. Since 2018, he and a friend have raced in Meadow Lake, The Pas, and Porcupine Plain, among others.
Lacasse said that he likes the mass start format that the Saskatchewan Challenge has because he can see the other people and the dogs are very excited. He added that he likes to finish a winter of racing with all of his dogs safe.
Lacasse finished first with an aggregate time of 74 minutes and 43.94 seconds. Carl Knudson was second and Rachel Courtney was third in the 10 dog race. Knudson had won the 10 dog race four previous years before cancellations due to weather and COVID-19.
Knudson finished with an aggregate time of 77 minutes and 23.31 seconds.
In the six-dog race, Tony Pratte was first, Knudson was second and Mandy Johnson was third.
In the four-dog race Mandy Johnson from Whitehorse finished first, Tammy McGunigal from MacDowall finished second and Jessica Joyal finished third.
It was a clean sweep for the Johnson family in the one dog race with Bode Johnson finishing first, Lana Johnson finishing second and Heidi Johnson finishing third. The Johnson family traveled from the Yukon to compete. They also finished in the same order in the three-dog race.
Prince Albert Winter Festival 2022 10-Dog Results
1. Jean-Philippe Lacasse (76:43:94)
2. Carl Knudson (77:23:31)
3. Rachel Courtney (78:11:67)
4. Armin Johnson (78:13:39)
5. Laura Montrager (80:08:82
6. Charlie Connor (81:00:10)
7. Bruce Magnusson (81:36:88)
8. Murray McGunigal (82:23:17)
9. Todd Sinclair (83:04:82)
10. Danielle McGunigal (83:57:85)
11. Mandy Johnson (84:27:77)
12. Kelvin Hall (84:54:88)
13. Clifford Smith (85:24:78)