READY TO RUMBLE: Steve Parsons and John O’Daniel pose with the Skagway Alpine Club canoe for the Yukon River Quest. JB

Alpine Club sends O’Daniel, Parsons down the river

By JEFF BRADY
John D. O’Daniel and Steve Parsons commanded the Skagway Alpine Club canoe from Whitehorse at the start of the Yukon River Quest at 12:15 p.m. Thursday.
They hope to reach Dawson City 72 hours later, but their “official goal” is to get there before the awards ceremony on Monday afternoon.
At a send-off for the pair at the Red Onion on Monday, O’Daniel and Parsons bragged about last week’s practice run on Lake Laberge, in which they tried out their spray skirt, and went “submarining” through lake swells.
They survived this exploit, but the trip’s tune box took a bath.
The team will regroup with a water tight selection of rock, blues, reggae, and classic rock on an MP3 player. Their primary fuel – jalapeno poppers and several varieties of hot sauce.
The Skagway team hopes to be competitive. “Although, tonight we hope not to embarrass ourselves,” Parsons said.
Parsons competed in short races during his college days in North Carolina, and O’Daniel has some northern river experience. He is known as a Skagway mountain grunt from his days leading trips over the Chilkoot in the early 1970s and is glad to take orders in the bow.
“Steve is so comfortable in the stern, and we are closely matched in strength, music and temperament,” O’Daniel said. “I am the log coordinator, in charge of keeping us from hitting logs.”
“I’m the nut coordinator,” Parsons added. “In charge of fruit, nuts and gorp.”
A 460-mile river race, the longest in the world, will be a test of wills and endurance, but the fear factor is gone.
“When I signed up to do this, the feeling was about 75 percent terror,” O’Daniel said. “Now it’s almost down to nil, and will blink out of sight as soon as this (packing) list is complete.”
His list includes 13 meals and 13 snacks – from pizza slices to power bars, two sets of clothes, and lots of extras – from batteries to bug dope.
And an American flag on the bow. “We want people to know where we’re from,” O’Daniel said.
The team played “We Are the Champions” as it paddled out of Whitehorse Thursday.
This is the first year in the race for the Skagway Alpine Club canoe, but it has race experience. Thanks to donations from Alaska Power & Telephone, Red Onion Saloon, Skagway True Value Hardware, The Skagway News Co., Wells Fargo Bank Alaska, and White Pass and Yukon Route, the club was able to purchase a Clipper Jensen racing canoe that was used by Terry Jacobsen and Paul Wheeler of Haines in the 1998 Dyea to Dawson Centennial Race to the Klondike.
Thirty-six teams registered for the fourth annual Yukon River Quest, which emerged as a water-only event following the centennials. Follow the race at: www.polarcom.com/~riverquest.

International Softball tourney next weekend
Skagway’s International Softball Tournament will be held the weekend of July 5-7, not this weekend as had been posted on a lot of schedules.
Two or three Skagway teams will be in the field, said tourney director Cindy O’Daniel, as well as two teams from Juneau and at least three teams from the Yukon.
O’Daniel has stepped down as league commissioner, handing over the reins to David Mielke.
The Skagway Coed League is off to a great start, with a record 10 teams on the field, Mielke said.
Games are played on Monday and Friday nights at 7 and 8:30 p.m.

SKAGWAY COED LEAGUE STANDINGS
(thru June 24)

Red Onion 7-1
Hambones 6-1
Jackasses 6-2
Vigilantes 4-3
Brewing Co. 4-3
Chilkat Guides 3-4
Moe’s 3-4
Smith’s Muggers 2-5
Gray Line 1-6
North Country 0-7 are from Whitehorse, with some coming from as far away as Anchorage.

Race results will be available later this week at HainesAK.com/bikerelay