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Mike Williams, Jr. Wins in Close Finish at The Season Opener

Attentive Kuskokwim mushing fans may recall that in the final race of the 2020-21 season, Greg Larson passed Mike Williams, Jr. in the final mile to nab a narrow victory. Today the tides turned as Williams edged out Larson by just 3 seconds for victory in the first race of the 2021-22 season. For the win Williams took home a prize of $2,430.

As we reported last night, 25 teams signed up for the event but several withdrew at the last minute. 19 teams participated with the top 15 finishers splitting a total purse of $18,000. Full results below. If you missed them, check out the livestream videos of the start and of the first few finishers at It was a beautiful and exciting day of racing and we now look forward to the next one: The Holiday Classic on December 18th!

We need to recognize the remarkable efforts of some volunteers and one racer on the trail today. On their way out, our trailbreaking crew (Jen Peeks, Alec Toney and Ben Kuntz) witnessed a snow machine accident. They stopped and aided an injured person who had been riding alone when they crashed. The volunteers called for help and stayed with the injured rider until emergency responders made it to the scene and could transport them to a location where they would receive the care they required. While they waited for help to arrive, musher (and nurse) Twyla Elhardt came upon the scene. She stopped her team (for at least an hour) and was able to provide some medical care to the injured snow machine rider while they continued to wait for emergency responders to arrive. Elhardt then went on to finish the race despite having fallen far behind the last place team. Thank you Twyla for sacrificing your race and going so far above and beyond today. Thanks as well to our volunteers, Bethel Search and Rescue, Atmautluak Search and Rescue, Alaska State Troopers and the numerous travelers who stopped to offer assistance. The injured rider was safely transported to a nearby clinic for evaluation and treatment.


Mike Williams, Jr., with a narrow lead over Greg Larson as they approach the finish, kicked his way to victory.

Photo by Gabby Hiestand Salgado

Greg Larson being congratulated by a loved one.

Photo by Olivia Ebertz

Jason Pavila all smiles after a strong 3rd place finish

Photo by Olivia Ebertz

Kennel owner John Snyder congratulates his son Kenneth on a 6th place finish.

Photo by Olivia Ebertz

Nate DeHaan at the finish line.

Photo by Olivia Ebertz

Rookie Spencer Wilson at the finish line.

Photo by Olivia Ebertz


Photo by Gabby Hiestand Salgado

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