Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Musher Central

If you like dogsled race data, or are a mushing trivia fan, you'll enjoy the website, "Musher Central," quite a bit.  They've consolidated a lot of data about a few of the major distance races, in one place, and have aggregated some of it to provide interesting overviews.  For example, if you go to the summary page on our favorite race, the Yukon Quest, you'll find not just the most wins and most top-ten finishes, but also most starts without a win, most scratches, and other fun information.  There are summaries for individual runnings of the race, and summary pages for individual mushers.

There are really only two drawbacks.  One is that the site is kind of ugly (friends don't let friends use Javascript unless they're trained professionals working together with someone who's got a clue about user interfaces) and doesn't provide a way to link to individual race runnings (see previous comment about friends and Javascript).  The other is that the data are a little incomplete and occasionally surprising (for example, he's got data for the Minto race but not the Copper Basin, and nothing at all for the Kusko or Tustumena or a few other major races), and most of the races only have data for last year.  But it's a hard slog to put this kind of thing together and Jeff deserves both kudos and support for putting up this website.  I hope he's able to find the resources to continue to build his database, go further back on the races he's already got, and include more races.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

IFSS Distance "World Championship" participation

There's much that can (and should) be said about the IFSS, its drive to get mushing adopted as an Olympic sport, and its insane and dog-hostile anti-doping rules, but that's probably got to wait until dust settles and we get a clearer picture of what's going to happen with the North Pole championships.  In the meantime, what we know for certain is that the distance "championships" will be held while Iditarod is underway.  What does this mean?  It means that the "Distance World Championship" will be held without the participation of the following mushers:

  • Ken Anderson
  • Aaron Burmeister
  • John Baker
  • Jake Berkowitz
  • Martin Buser
  • Paul Gebhardt
  • Pete Kaiser
  • Jeff King
  • Lance Mackey
  • Allen Moore
  • Dallas Seavey
  • Mitch Seavey
  • Cim Smyth
  • Ramey Smith
  • Gerry Willomitzer
  • Aliy Zirkle
As well as top-level purebred mushers Mike Ellis and Karen Ramstead.

So.  I wonder how on earth a "world championship" that excludes 4-time Iditarod champions and consistent top performers can possibly considered a "world championship."  This would seem to be an enormous marketing error on the side of IFSS (and possibly MUSA), but perhaps not a surprise given the lack of distance mushing experts in the IFSS and MUSA processes.