FAIRBANKS — Normally the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race awards its sportsmanship award at the finish banquet at the end of the race. It’s one of a handful of awards that are given out at banquet and the only award selected by other mushers.
But this year wasn’t normal. Mushers forgot to vote at the end of their mandatory finishers meeting the day of the banquet. With everyone leaving Whitehorse the next morning, finisher’s club president Dave Dalton said the award would instead be voted on via email.
That winner was announced Friday as Paige Drobny. The Fairbanks musher finished in 14th place in 11 days, 21 hours and 26 minutes. Along the way she traveled with a pack that included fellow rookies Trent Herbst, Gus Guenther and Yuka Honda.
Drobny was surprised and humbled to be the recipient of the 2012 award. She said she wasn’t sure why she was selected by her peers. The 2012 Yukon Quest will go down in history for its relative calm. Mushers enjoyed mild weather and solid trail conditions for most of the 1,000 miles from Fairbanks to Whitehorse.
“I had fun on the trail,” Drobny said. “We helped each other when they need it.”
Drobny said the group traded advice on the trail, most of it coming from Iditarod veterans Guenther and Herbst.
“We all came with different strengths and helped each other in particular ways,” she said.
As the winner, Drobny was awarded a beaver fur trapper hat made by Suz-Custom Furrier in Fairbanks.
Drobny, known for her upbeat attitude on the trail and in checkpoints, was asked if she wanted the hat sent from Whitehorse to Fairbanks via rush delivery. She declined, instead opting for someone to bring the hat with them when they travel from Whitehorse to Fairbanks next month.
Contact features editor Suzanna Caldwell at 459-7504.