For the first time in five years, there will be a new face at the helm when mushers hit the start line of the Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race.
Fabian Schmitz has been selected as Race Marshal for the 2017 Yukon Quest, taking the reins from long-time marshal Doug Grilliot. Schmitz served as a Race Judge in 2015 and 2016, and has completed several mid-distance races as a musher, including the YQ300. He also worked as Yukon Quest Operations Manager in the Yukon office for two years.
Schmitz hopes to bring strong problem solving skills and a good sense of teamwork to the race, as well as his understanding of how the Yukon Quest operates.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge of being Yukon Quest Race Marshal,” stated Schmitz. “I’m very familiar with all aspects of the race, and I’ve formed good relationships with the staff, mushers, and additional members of the race team. I know that fairness means equal treatment for all participants, and I value the safety of both mushers and dogs as the most important aspect of the Yukon Quest.”
Schmitz will be joined on the race team by Dr. Cristina (Nina) Hansen, who returns for her third year as Head Veterinarian, Race Manager Alex Olesen, and Assistant Race Manager Briana Mackay.
Prior to her time as head vet, Dr. Hansen was the Assistant Head Veterinarian for two years and a trail veterinarian for three, meaning she’s been involved with the Yukon Quest for more than seven years. Dr. Hansen says she’s looking forward to seeing new and old friends on the trail, and of course working with the amazing canine athletes.
“I began volunteering because I wanted to see more of the North and work with world-class canine athletes. I keep coming back because I enjoy all of the dogs and people that I get to see along the trail every year. Additionally, the Yukon Quest is a challenge for me, and I like a good challenge.”
This will be the fifth straight year as Race Manager for past board member Olesen, who’s unmatched logistical experience is a huge asset in ensuring the Yukon Quest runs smoothly. Mackay is back for her second year as Assistant Race Manager, after two years as a checkpoint volunteer. She has also served on the Yukon Quest Board of Directors.
Media interested in attending or covering the 2017 Yukon Quest are invited to register for accreditation by visiting the media page.