Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Iditarod Nitpick: What's With the ADN?

Malcontent's note: I started this post several days ago, but decided it was overly bitchy and held it. Then I read this morning's Iditarod coverage and rolled my eyes nearly to the point of injury.

What's with the reporters on the Iditarod trail putting less than shocking temperatures in the lead? Three examples of stories incorporating pretty normal weather in the first sentence like it is some kind of big deal.
"ANVIK -- Eight hours to the minute after finishing the seven-course meal that greets the first musher to reach the Yukon River during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, race leader Martin Buser was headed into the cold again with his dogs, battling north into zero-degree temperatures and a bitter headwind toward a tiny outpost called Eagle Island." - Kevin Klott, the Anchorage Daily Snooze
"The leaders in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race were charging through minus-10-degree cold toward the halfway point in the ghost town of Iditarod on Wednesday as some of the key contenders in The Last Great Race appeared to be settling in for their mandatory 24-hour breaks." - Craig Medred, the Anchorage Daily Snooze
"PUNTILLA LAKE -- As the wind chill dipped to minus 37 and a ground storm pounded dogs resting on straw beds here, rookie musher Andy Angstman emerged from the direction of Rainy Pass in a cloud of blowing snow." Kevin Klott, the Anchorage Daily Snooze
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I want to be spending an entire day outside with a windchill like that. Not fun. One of the reasons Interior cold is not so bad, really, even if it is -45, is because we rarely have wind. Wind makes takes a situation from cold to miserable pretty quick. But -10? Zero? That's perfect mushing weather. For some dogs, it's a little warm.

Granted, later on in Klott's story, he mentions the grounds storms and wind chills the mushers were enduring which definitely qualify as miserable. You want to tell readers about what a tough experience the race is, tell them about ground storms and wind chills; you can have a pretty decent temperature, but add a little wind and you're looking at a totally different experience.

On a final note, if the front runners remain close, I think the musher with dogs that are used to wind will have the edge on the final push up the coast. I don't remember if Mackey had to deal with wind (though he dealt with some major cold) in the Quest - but if his dogs have only trained her in the Interior, that will be a factor.

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