Nenana Ice Classic

In this screenshot of the Nenana Ice Classic cam taken Friday, April 30, 2021, you can see a lead has opened on the Tanana River. That was enough to move the tripod, which triggered the clock. 

Through careful research, luck, or a combination of the two, 12 individuals correctly predicted the precise date and time the Tanana River ice would go out at Nenana this spring.

The dozen bettors who guessed the clock would stop at 12:50 p.m. on Friday, April 30, were declared 2021 Nenana Ice Classic winners on Tuesday.

The purse this year was $233,591, so each winner will receive $19,465.92, according to Nenana Ice Classic Manager Cherrie Forness.

The number of winners is higher than last year’s five, but not unheard of.

“There’s no such thing as normal,” Forness said. She added that the number of correct guesses has ranged from one to about 40. Forness said the organization is still in the process of notifying winners, so no names can be released. However, winning tickets came from across the state, from King Salmon and Sitka to North Pole. A total of 22,704 tickets were purchased this year.

This year, Alaska’s hottest ice competition ended with a twist. Earlier in the day on April 30, a large lead opened up on the Tanana River between the railroad bridge and the highway bridge. The rising water caused the ice to shift, which pulled the rope taut and triggered the mechanism stopping the clock. The tripod was still standing, however, which caused some confusion.

It is possible that the winners looked back at the record books: April 30 has historically been a popular day for the ice to go out, but the range spans from April 20 to May 20. In terms of time of day, afternoons are usually a good bet: the heat of the day often causes the ice to go out between noon and 5 p.m. 

Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.