Buddy Streeper claims 7th ONAC title by just seconds for a historic finish to the historic race
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The 75th running of the Open North American Championships was worth the wait. After the storied race was canceled last year just days before hitching the sleds, the Alaska Dog Mushers Association made an effort to host the event in 2021 by any means necessary. They pulled it off and it was something to write home about.
After three days and over 200 minutes on one of the fasted trails in the sport, the race was determined by 1.7 seconds - the closest margin in history - and it took a record-breaking performance to do so.
“We didn’t know, nobody knew,” said ADMA Board Member Jennifer Probert-Erhart said of organization tallying up the times.
Canadian musher Buddy Streeper (219:47.7) won his 7th ONAC title by setting a new track record for the Day 3 29.7-mile course, edging fellow Canadian Anny Malo (219:49.3) by a hair. Three-peating as the world’s top sprint musher, Streeper needed to gain 47 seconds on Malo heading into the final day, but couldn’t be caught watching the timers for too long.
“Win lose or draw, I wanted to be able to finish that finish and say ‘I did it, I did what I wanted to do,’ and let the chips and cards lay where they do and that’s all you can do,” said Streeper, who first ran the ONAC in at 16-years old in 1998. “This was a coin flip at the finish line or we would have been over there talking to [Malo} right now, but I told her I am very proud of her team and her program and congratulated her for a heck of a dog race.”
This was Streeper’s 7th ONAC title, earning victories in 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
Leading the ONAC until literally the last second before Streeper snatched away the crown, Malo is already eyeing the 76th edition of the race.
“I was third in 2019, second this year, so I will be back next year,” Malo said with a laugh at the award ceremonies.
Known as ‘the granddaddy of them all’, there is no question the Open North American Championships are important, not just to the local community, but internationally, which made last year’s cancellation a tough pill to swallow.
“Worldwide, this is a huge attraction,” added Probert-Erhart. “Locally and to our Native community, it is a deep, deep part of our culture. You have seen a lot of our Native community; Doyan, Limited, Tanana Chiefs [Conference] and [Fairbanks Native Association] are huge supporters of this event. I can’t even come up with words, it is another one of those things that even thinking about it starts to get me chocked up about how important it is.”
While travel restrictions made for a smaller field than in years past, the event still featured the world’s fastest teams, while welcoming out-of-staters like Michael Tetzner of Burg, Germany, Jake Robinson of Bemidji, Minnesota, 17-year-old Abigail Fox of Greenville, Pennsylvania, as well as a trio of Canadians who swept the top three spots in the standings.
2021 Open North American Championship Results
|1||Blayne “Buddy” Streeper||Fort Nelson, B.C., Canada||219:47.7|
|2||Anny Malo||Saint Zenon, Quebec, Canada||219:49.3|
|3||Eric LaForce (R)||Lanoraie, Quebec, Canada||222:19.5|
|4||Jake Robinson (R)||Bemidji, MN||232:46.0|
|5||Michael Tetzner||Burg, Germany||234:32.2|
|6||Ricky Taylor||Fairbanks, AK||234:44.1|
|7||Marvin Kokrine||North Pole, AK||240:21.8|
|8||Abigail Fox (R)||Greenville, PA||241:25.2|
|9||Beth Callis (R)||Two Rivers, AK||242:39.3|
|10||Eddy Dayton||Big Lake, AK||246:31.0|
|11||Tony Blanford (R)||Anchorage, AK||247:53.4|
|12||Tom Huntington (R)||North Pole, AK||251:23.5|
|13||Frank Habermann (R)||Kasilof, AK||255:14.7|
|14||Andi Huetten||Nenana, AK||260:18.4|
|15||Dave Turner||Fairbanks, AK||263:54.2|
|DQ||Nikki Seo||South Korea/Salcha, AK||DQ|
After claiming his 7th Open North American Championship, Streeper shared a story about one of his dogs:
“That leader that leader that I used today was the first time I have ever raced him in lead, his name is Timber. Coming up four years ago in April, he was birthed. I was the one in his house when his mom was birthing and he came out cold. He wasn’t going to make it. I removed the sac from him and got the blood flowing and I removed the umbilical cord. I rubbed him, I put my energy into him and I saved his life is what I did. I kissed him on the head and I knew that was going to be the ‘T’ litter, that group of dogs was going to be the letter ‘T’, that litter. I named him Timberwolf because it took strength from that. My wife went to sleep last night, we weren’t sure what we were going to do today, we didn’t have my best performance happening, I didn’t know who I was going to use in lead. Lina said ‘I had a dream that you used Timber,’ and I said ‘you know, I think he is ready’. So we ran Timber today, and he just rocked it.”
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