Butteri holds lead in Yukon Quest, another dog dies on trail

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2002

CARMACKS (AP) -- Peter Butteri of Tok held onto his lead in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race Tuesday.

Butteri was the first musher to leave the Carmacks checkpoint for the 80-mile run to Braeburn, just 100 miles from the finish line in Whitehorse.

Butteri left Carmacks at 7:57 a.m. Joran Freeman of Two Rivers followed him out at 9:35 a.m. Canadian contender Hans Gatt pulled out of Carmacks at 10:17 a.m.

Twenty-eight mushers remain in the 1,000-mile race from Fairbanks to the Yukon Territory. Thirteen have scratched.

Gatt, of Atlin, B.C., said he can't catch Butteri this late in the race unless the leader makes a major mistake.

''He has too big of a lead,'' Gatt said.

Butteri, speaking at Pelly Crossing, said he must not ignore those running behind him.

''With Hans' reputation back there, I have got no illusions that I've got the fastest dog team at this point in the race. I've got a little bit of a lead, I've got 10 healthy dogs and I hope to be able to maintain both of them to the end.''

Freeman and Gatt both have eight-dog teams.

David Monson of Fairbanks, the 1988 champion, and William Kleedehn of Carcross, left the Carmacks checkpoint Tuesday afternoon within two minutes of each other.

Meanwhile, another dog has died on the Yukon Quest trail. Two Rivers musher Christopher Knott saw one of his dogs collapse on the way into Pelly Crossing. Knott was carrying the dead dog in his sled when he pulled into Pelly Crossing at 12:27 a.m. Tuesday.

''He explained that he was five miles out of Pelly when this dog suddenly tipped over; an instant death,'' race marshal Mark Lindstrom said Tuesday morning.

Head vet Margy Terhar said there was no apparent cause of death. The dog will be sent to Fairbanks for a necropsy. The dog, a male named Viper, twice finished the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

It was second dog death this race. Colorado musher Bill Pinkham lost his dog, Friendly, Feb. 10 near Central when he lost control of his sled and it flipped over. The musher was able to right the sled, but two of his dogs were tangled up in the line. Pinkham freed one of the dogs, but the second one was hurt.

Pinkham tried to resuscitate the injured animal but after about five minutes realized it was dead.

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