Kenai couple wins Nenana Ice Classic

ANCHORAGE — A retired peace officer and his paramedic-firefighter wife are the sole winners of Alaska’s biggest guessing game.


Warren and Yvonne Snow, of Kenai, had the closest guess of when the ice would go out on the Tanana River in Nenana, which happened at 3:41 p.m. Monday. The game officially uses standard time, not daylight time, so the winning time is listed as 2:41 p.m. Monday.

No one guessed that exact time, but the Snows were only a minute off. Their guess of 2:40 p.m. will net them $318,500 before taxes as winners of the Nenana Ice Classic.

“It is kind of a shot in the dark, isn’t it?” Warren, 50, said by phone Monday afternoon.

He said they enter several guesses every year, spanning the entire range of possible dates.

“For whatever reason, I picked a later date,” he said.

That reason must have had something to do with Alaska’s weather this year.

This was the longest breakup on record for the 97-year-old guessing game, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. It was three hours longer than the previous record set in 1964, when the ice went out at 11:41 a.m. May 20.

“It’s been cold everywhere in Alaska, and we’re down here on the Kenai Peninsula and it’s still cold,” he said for his rationale for the later guess.

Breakup occurs usually during the last few days of April and first week of May.

Yvonne, 42, still works for the borough, but he retired after serving 22 years with the Department of Corrections as a prisoner transport officer.

He said they will use the money to look outside Alaska for retirement.

“This should at least buy the plane ticket,” he joked.

It’s the second time they’ve won a share of money in the classic.

“We won in ‘05 along with 40 some odd other winners,” he said. “It was quite a few people.”

That year, all the winners split the jackpot, and the Snows wound up with about $6,200 before taxes.

The Classic started in 1917 when a group of bored railroad workers decided to fight a case of cabin fever by erecting a tripod to guess when breakup would happen.


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